Alex Massie

Europe: A British Victory?

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Timothy Garton Ash's piece recalling his adventures in central and eastern europe for this magazine is just as enjoyable as you would expect. Which is to say that it's very enjoyable. But, mischievously, he ends with a provocative question:

Now, 20 years on, the enlargement of the European Union to include most of the post-communist democracies of central and Eastern Europe, a logical (though not inevitable) conclusion of revolutions that were conducted under the motto of ‘the return to Europe’, has made the dreaded federal superstate of Eurosceptic nightmare a sheer impossibility. It is simply not going to happen, in any foreseeable future, and even Germany, once the motor of federalism, no longer wants it. Indeed, French and Belgian federalists complain sourly that enlargement has given us, increasingly, a Europe à l’Anglaise, a ‘British Europe’. Why is it only the British who can’t see this?

I suspect many readers will not agree with this interpretation. But, nevertheless, there are plenty of people on the continent who would agree with TGA here. Are they all wrong? Further englargement - first Zagreb then, eventually, Belgrade and, yes, Ankara too - will only make it more difficult for there to be a proper federal super-state. This is a perspective that's often missing from our "debate" on europe.

Eventually, I suspect, europe will do great damage to David Cameron. Yesterday's manoeuvres were, I thought, an attempt, as James put it, to kick the can down the road and make sure that reckoning comes in a putative second term, not his first.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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