When in 1981 Greece joined the EU perhaps there was a whoop of joy from the office of the then MEP Jacques Delors, 'another one in the bag'. A long time ago getting countries to join in this grand plan was akin to a child collecting Dinky toys, the more the merrier. It was the same when later on the single currency was created; problems? Oh never mind! We will sort those out later. It was always principle first practicalities later.
The euphoria, a good word to describe the creation of anything related to the EU, was apparent. So a long list of weak and dodgy countries some unable to meet important criteria, others unwilling and some both, made up the numbers. Only recently did Delors say what he thought about it all. But not a peep from him or any of the other euphoric people, the motley crew who without question support the EU, at the time all this was happening. Did they know and keep quiet or did they not understand? This is important. For the study of history, you would have thought, is only worthwhile if you can learn from it so as not to repeat mistakes.
Which brings us bang up to date. What mistakes have been made in the last few days by the EU leaders?
They thought it was all over. The photographs from the EU summit on the euro crisis told it all. Puffy eyed and puffed up at their 'success' the EU elite posed for the camera. However, as expected, Nicholas Sarkozy got the best shot with his theatrical snub of David Cameron who, if he had any sense at all, must now wonder at the merit of sharing aircraft carriers with the French. The EU leaders enjoyed it, they may even have thought this moment would last forever. But no, for the EU elite has only touched the symptoms, the cure for the ills of the single currency are beyond their grasp and understanding. That is done by splitting up the eurozone, this they cannot contemplate for they are no more than Witch Doctors.
By contrast, for another group of stupid people it's already over but they have failed to spot this. The people involved with the protest camp at St Paul's Cathedral, both sides that is, seem unaware this sort of thing is now so dated that even the resignation of two of the clerical staff won't warm it it up to a palatable level. As the EU folk get more publicity than is good for them we will start with the Cathedral people.
The war, actually it would be churlish not to mention it as so many people have put so much effort onto it! But not in the case of Angela Merkel, her effort has gone into staying out of it. Although she does this for the same reason as Nicholas Sarkozy who is desperate to play Napoleon and lead the willing. Both have a domestic agenda. Both see the Libyan crisis as an opportunity to tip the polls in their favour. So that's a united EU then! By contrast Barack Obama seems to have dithered and then been engulfed by events. Even though US forces are dominant, so far, it still makes him look more foolish than wise. The final big name in this is David Cameron. He does not have elections at home looming, thus so far has fared better than others in the, sadly, all important image stakes as it would seem his motives on trying to establish a NFZ are less complicated. Even so he has made the odd mistake. For example saying that Libya is "not another Iraq", how does he know that?
But back again to Merkel, she's tried all sorts of things, like creative accounting to inflate the German economy. This involved the German government borrowing money from German banks then passing off these transactions as evidence of how well Germany was doing! She has declared that multiculturalism has failed.
The metaphor to describe the inner workings of the EU and where it gets most of its motive power, the Franco-German motor or, the Franco-German alliance, is common enough. So is the criticism of it. In the Economist is a list of complaints about the way the EU is run and written from the point of view of the old Eastern Europe.
Complaints of this sort are a ritual and we can either conclude that they will go on forever, as some hope the EU will, or that one day the EU will fall apart just like the old Soviet Empire; which, as we are talking about the old Eastern Europe, takes us full circle.