I believe in Europe

I believe in the European Union as a great positive in our lives because it is in the process of minimising two things – roaming charges for mobile phones and war in western Europe.

And a whole lot more of course too. But that seems to encapsulate why I care about Europe. I want forms of good governance which can benefit the citizens of these countries and I also want these countries, which have historically been at war to put that behind them and live at peace.

Now, in saying that I want good governance in Europe, I’m not of a belief that we’ve got that right yet. (Nor am I of the belief that government at Holyrood or Westminster is perfect either). It seems clear that there will, for a long time, be the need for reform of the European institutions. However, that is a process that is not merely worth being a half-hearted part of but worth making commitments to, in order to be able to shape and mould things as they change.

I’ve been wrong about some things in Europe. I thought the Euro was a good idea and though I still like the notion of a single currency, I’ve also seen very clearly that independent nations cannot realistically share their money without having a common economic policy. Having seen it go spectacularly wrong in Europe, it seems obvious to me that the same mistakes can’t be allowed to come to pass within these islands. States which have economic independence need their own currency for their own good.

However, I’m suspicious of the nation state itself. It seems to me to be a positive good that the nation state (The United Kingdom) that I live in, is part of a multiple set of identities in which British nationalism is compromised from both within and without. Nationalisms frighten me. I want them to be compromised by other commitments.

So, I’ve voted in the European Election. (I had a postal vote this time). That I had some enthusiasm for voting was tempered a little by my having little enthusiasm for any of the options on the ballot paper. I did manage to cast a vote and I think that it is important to do so even if one has to hold one’s nose whilst voting, either metaphorically or physically.

I believe in Europe and Europe needs us to believe in it. It isn’t just mobile phone charges that matter, of course. Things like global warming need much stronger action than they are currently getting and a European Parliament can and should be one focus for working to make the planet work. And our continent is far from free from conflict either. However the structures of the EU are part of a political settlement, unsure and vulnerable though it is, which have prevented the horrors of all out war that directly affected my parents and grandparents.

Vive L´Europe! Long live the European Union!