The EU in concept is about safety. At the gut level before higher order considerations come into the reckoning the EU is about the safety and security of European families.
In the immediate history prior to the creation of a unified Europe we had two devastating world wars. Both wars, although European in origin went on to engulf the entire world. Few nations were left unscathed. Each war and all the previous wars in Europe created disputed borders which laid the basis of future wars.
The EU ensued in an era of peace. It also ensued in an era of prosperity. The main theory being proposed here is that at base the EU is about the safety of European families.
Safety in the first instance is about protection from death, disease and war. Safety on the other hand is about the creation of secure employment for families. This in turn is intimately bound up with profitable trading between nations. In this its secondary aim, Europe has been spectacularly successful. So successful has it been as a model in fact that the original six nations have now become twenty seven.
Barriers to the movement of goods, capital and labour have been removed. It is virtually impossible to go to war with profound trading partners. One simple incidence of this has been the development of the Mosel River in the 60’s. It was developed then to move French steel through the Mosel into the Rhine and so on to the international Port at Rotterdam. Here we had the French trusting the Germans in a manner undreamed of before the EU.
When I was thinking about what Europe really meant to the bulk of its people, I thought that the following phrase captured what it was about:
"Safety for all European families in a voluntary family of European nations".
The development of Europe has created a 480m block of persons. Interestingly Europe has mirrored what has happened in China and India in that all three are giant trading blocks in the world. The missing one from the above is the United States. So as the world has, with technology, travel and the internet become a global village the big trading blocks look after the interests of their families in a new way never seen in history before. It is not that self interest has been replaced as a driving human trait, it is rather that the self interests of every block have been both given expression and been kept in check by the other blocks.
The reinvention of Europe over the last sixty years has had a dramatic effect on in particular a small nation like Ireland. Ireland is in many ways a symbol of what Europe can do for a small isolated resource poor country. Ireland exists by trading. The sum of its exports and imports amount to 140% of its GDP. This is in part due to the injection of 73Bn Euro in direct aid and CAP support. The wealth of the Irish people has been moved from 80% of the European average to 130%. Safety and security of Irish families now has a new meaning. In our next Blog, I intend to deal with the most important aspect of the Lisbon Treaty and that is how Europe deals with the biggest crisis facing humanity which is the energy one.