Quentin Letts

A speech for Europe

What the EU president should have said in his 'State of the Union' address

A speech for Europe
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On Wednesday the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, gave a ‘State of the Union’ address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Here is the text of the speech Senhor Barroso did not give:

Amigos! Citoyens! You there! This is my State of the Union address. Our European Union is, after all, in a right old state so I thought I would make a speech about it. Anything Mr Obama can do, your unelected president José Manuel Barroso can do better.

It has been another magnificent year. Borders have crumbled. National sovereignty has shrivelled. As you can see, all is going according to plan. Here on the mothership, even we have been surprised at how fast things have developed. There have been days when my special advisers have been so overcome by the news from corners of the empire that they have had to retire to five-star restaurants for lunchtime consultation sessions. Their professionalism has been an example to us all.

Sim! Our historic mission to unite the continent of Europe marches ever onwards. We are closer to achieving our goals than since the days the great Bonaparte, guiding light of our movement, was crowned King of Italy.

Europe in 2012 is united — united in crisis, united in financial disarray. Every day, the vaults of Paris and Berlin resemble more closely the exhausted coffers of Athens and Madrid. As a European of Portuguese descent, it has been a source of special pride to me that Lisbon has been right up there at the front of the peloton of bankrupts. The traders of Frankfurt once smirked up their sleeves at the lads in Milan but now even the Germans are looking peaky. This proves the brilliance of our stratagems. To quote another forefather of the Brussels project, Musketeer D’Artagnan, ‘one for all and all for one’. When we examine euro coins, we can draw satisfaction from knowing that those minted in northern Europe are every bit as dodgy as those minted on the shores of the Mediterranean. For years we have spoken of harmonisation. It is coming, mes braves. Higher taxes for one and all. The spirit of D’Artagnan burns bright in the Berlaymont.

For years we have dreamed of a Europe with level economies, a Europe with equality of outcomes. Our patience will soon have its reward, for all our economies will soon be equally knackered. Our Union thus becomes truly egalitarian. Let us salute the blue stars on our federal flag. Let us hum Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Hum it, indeed, for unfortunately there is no money to pay for an orchestra.

At 23 per cent, youth unemployment is high, but it affects youngsters from Brno to Brest. Government debt in the European Union may have risen by €620 billion but the problem exists from Valladoil to Vilnius, from Timisoara to Tipperary. And still Croatia is happy to join our great enterprise. Suckers!

No more the hierarchy of nations. No more the bitterness of seeing neighbours prosper while we decline. It is a triumph. As those strange British Conservatives like to say, we are all in this together. Has social cohesion ever been more evident? Whole populations have come together to riot in the streets. Have the people of Italy ever felt such solidarity with citizens who live on the Iberian peninsula? Can we not admire the candour with which Greeks now feel able to speak to their brothers and sisters in Germany?

Meanwhile, our outreach programmes burgeon. I know that I speak for my colleagues at the European Commission when I say how delighted I am that we now employ 39 staff at the EC offices in Barbados. And who among us can fail to be proud of the progress of our high representative Lady Ashton and her European External Action Service? We regret that we were able to increase its £383 million budget by only 5 per cent this year but we are confident that every centime was spent with the very best of intentions.

Europe has long been a crucible for political ideas. This continues to be evident in the way we have finessed the outmoded notion of ‘national parliamentary democracy’. We were able to donate our expertise to the people of Greece and Italy in choosing for them their new heads of government. In the process, money was saved which would otherwise have been wasted on ‘general elections’.

Meanwhile, our chief banker, Mario Draghi, announces that the euro has been saved. He has done this by borrowing more money. It will be a success. The much-respected Stephanie Flanders of our British Broacasting Corporation has said so. Citizen Flanders is never wrong. It is therefore unimaginable that international currency traders will dare to doubt the euro’s continued existence.

Our power will prevail. Our world is safe. There is much to celebrate. Now. Did someone mention dinner?