Sunday, March 25, 2007



How do you say "happy birthday" in 23 languages?

Today, March 25th, is the 50th birthday of the European Union. Fifty years ago today, the representatives of six nations - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - signed the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Economic Community. It was a small start, but fifty years later, the seed sown by that community has grown into an economic and political union stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Baltic states, from the icy forests of Finland to the Greek islands, encompassing 27 countries and 23 official languages. It has brought freedom of travel and trade, it has brought democracy and human rights, but most of all it has brought peace. By binding France and Germany together in a common project, it has effectively ended war in Europe. And that is something well worth celebrating.

8 comments:

You're right. The EU, for all its faults, is a wonderful institution. By achieving free trade within Europe, it has eliminated the risk of war among European powers. Now are you ready to post that when the world achieves free trade through the WTO negotiations, war will be ended globally? If not, why not?

Posted by Anonymous : 3/26/2007 12:55:00 AM

just as long as the WTO follows up economic union with political union.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 3/26/2007 07:10:00 AM

" By binding France and Germany together in a common project, it has effectively ended war in Europe."

Amen to that, but it's not so long since this well-intentioned (and not a little smug) complacency was shattered by the horrible drawn-out disembowelment of the former Yugoslavia.

Wealthy nations that continue to exploit their former colonial possessions are unlikely prototypes for a new and more equitable world order.

Posted by woppo : 3/26/2007 10:02:00 AM

"Now are you ready to post that when the world achieves free trade through the WTO negotiations, war will be ended globally? If not, why not? " by anonymous

The WTO is hardly designed for mutual benefit though, is it?

Posted by Anonymous : 3/26/2007 10:03:00 AM

"Saluton" would be a good answer. 23 official languages is quite unworkable; translating all EU business from each native language to all of the other 22 is a ridiculous amount of work. Using Esperanto as the working language for the EU would be far more practical.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/26/2007 12:59:00 PM

When is New Zealand finally going to join?

Posted by Uroskin : 3/28/2007 02:13:00 PM

"it has brought democracy and human rights"

Utter nonsense! That was brought in 1945 by the victory of the Western allies over Nazi Germany, and the determination of UK and US forces to liberate as much of Europe as possible before meeting the Red Army - it took very very careful negotiations over Austria and Finland to secure their freedom from Soviet imperialism.

Human rights and democracy were secured in most of Western Europe by a combination of the Marshall Plan and GATT saving their economies, and NATO deterring Stalin's ambitions to push eastwards of which the blockade of West Berlin was the most obvious. Spain, Portugal and Greece were all late on this front, and they didn't change because of Brussels - they changed because internally (and under much Western pressure).

The EU and its predecessors DID provide the framework for Franco-West German peace, but don't forget Germany was occupied, divided and became the frontline between freedom and tyranny. All of the wartime allies (including the USSR) wanted Germany unable to start war ever again.

What went on in Brussels did nothing to support this. The Helsinki Accords in the 1970s sowed the seeds for the ultimate downfall of the Soviet empire.

"By binding France and Germany together in a common project, it has effectively ended war in Europe."

As has been pointed out before, the former Yugoslavia, and indeed Cyprus and Ireland mean that is not strictly true - and war in Europe was only avoided because nuclear deterrence kept Stalin at bay.

Posted by libertyscott : 3/28/2007 11:33:00 PM

Hmmm, somebody anonymous asks:

"Now are you ready to post that when the world achieves free trade through the WTO negotiations, war will be ended globally? If not, why not?"

Well, I'd assume that Idiot/Savant would hold back from endorsing a WTO-sponsored worldwide free trade agreement for one very salient reason: it would be mostly a cover for those huge state-like companies to rachet up the depletion of the world's fast dwindling natural resources and push the planet well beyond its carrying capacity, as is most probably already the case. Once the tipping point is inevitably reached and the earth's eco-system goes into a permanent nose-dive then Anonymous can't expect a sudden outbreak of peace and love around the world as peoples and nations struggle to grab the very last pieces of the planet's pie. The earth will regenerate, of course, but just not with us. Anybody seen Children of Men yet? Great scene when the main protagonist visits his cousin, a government minister surrounded by incredible wealth and luxury while the planet around him is in freefall. He's asked why he bothers to hoard such wealth when humanity will die out within a hundred years, and he answers:
"I just don't think about it". Sums up mankind today.

By the way, Happy Birthday in Czech is "Vsechno narozeninam" ;)

Posted by By George! : 3/29/2007 10:42:00 AM