But the Union’s greatest failing is that after decades of regulations of every possible kind it has not brought the nations of the Continent closer together. Day by day Italians are told whether their government’s economic policy has been accepted or rejected by Berlin, but about the Germans they know little or nothing. In each country, we follow our own national news media and are locked into the agendas of our own political systems. We are separate nations but not sovereign nations. We obey the dictates of Brussels and read Jonathan Franzen and “Harry Potter.” We watch American films and follow the American elections far more closely than those of any other country in the European Union. Is this a community?
The middle classes, the cultured elite, love the idea that they are taking part in a historic project that will bring peace and prosperity to the Continent, put an end to war, take steps to defend the environment, protect Europeans from superpower ambitions and multinational depredations, etc., etc. I love this idea, too. Like so many others, I take comfort in this noble enterprise.
But when the project does not bring prosperity, when it does not do enough to protect the environment, when its protectionist trading policies systematically damage the economies of the third world, I, like everyone else, don’t want to think about it; we prefer to close our eyes. This is not the narrative we like to believe we live in.