United Kingdom: Those Britons who love Europe
30 April 2010
Although the continent is still not short of beer-drinking, Daily Mail/Express-reading, Europhobic Britons forever perplexed by foreign ways, a new generation, more in tune with other European social attitudes, is coming to the fore, argues Mary Dejevsky.
New Europe was the neat formula coined by Donald Rumsfeld in aid of the Bush administration's war effort. The "old Europeans" disliked and derided it, as it suggested that Europe was more divided over the Iraq invasion than it actually was. But they could never deny its grain of truth. There was indeed a split between those who signed up to the Bush crusade for democracy in foreign parts – not least because of their recent history – and those who saw the same campaign as a misuse of military might.
But that was then. Now that Poland and Russia are making up, East and Central Europe have lost their appetite for fighting US wars, and the Obama administration is eschewing the whole idea of special relationships, it could be time to lay this irritating concept to rest. Six years after the European Union completed its greatest single expansion, the divisions are neither as sharp nor as resentful as they were.
Even as "new" Europe blends with the old, however, could it be that a new breed of rather different "new" Europeans may be arising in that least likely of places, here in Britain? There are reasons to doubt, but suddenly, too – for us pro-European dinosaurs – to hope.
Not so long ago, I was lamenting what seemed an immutable layering of British foreign policy interests by age. There were those who remembered the Second World War and saw fascism in its various guises as the greatest threat. There were those who grew up in the darkest shadow of that war – who became doughty cold warriors, looking across the Atlantic and clinging to the shelter of Nato. Then came what might be called the first Europeans – we who had the freedom of at least half the Continent rolled out before us, who travelled ever more adventurously across its vanishing borders, who holidayed in Spain, bought second homes in France, tramped the ancient sites of Italy and Greece, and generally revelled in the sights, sounds and culinary delights of somewhere else so close to home. Read full article in The Independent...