3. Europe 15

Spanish youth unemployment stands at 55%. Ouch!

Europe 15 is shorthand for the countries of western Europe, ie the members for the EU before the 2004 intake plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

Euro crisis. Most of these lands are EU members. The idea of having a prosperous Europe at peace is great but it does not have to bow to the dominance of the “Market” as it does at present. It is not the only way to live happily together and the current set-up is under terrific strain at the moment with the southern states looking as if they may leave the Euro and develop outside the restrictions of the ECB regime.It’s hard to grasp how the whole thing works, what the right solution is, how to get there and the costs. It needs clear thinking but the confusion about banks and money creation muddles the issue and stops citizens forming an opinion.

I was brought with the fun and fascination of happy childhood continental camping holidays and with sisters whose prowess in French far exceeded mine. I have always been captivated by the romance of being able to converse with other Europeans even though without notable success. I muddle through in French and falter with a little knowledge of German and very little Italian …. all of which I could master if I put my mind to it.

Trips to the continent are a tonic and a salutary rebuke since many continentals do things much better than we do. The streets are clean (except in Naples) and things work!!

Flying across the plains of northern France at around 160 mph only to grind to a halt amid piles of rubbish and discarded shopping trolleys in London’s suburbs, followed by filthy toilets at Victoria Station left a deep impression. I still feel the national disgrace.

The history is a bit scary of both 20th century Germany and 18th/ 19th century France and when it comes to the crunch our island nation has acquitted itself well. But in ordinary times we let things slip.

I am sorry about the current European tensions because it really does matter that we live happily together and prosper and do good in the world together, after all that our continent’s people have been through. (and I write this on Remembrance Day).

There are a lot of good people out there “on the continent”. We should get to know them and their languages and their insights and forge ourselves into a happy society and a happy team. The imperative of economic growth strains our relationships and will continue to do so if we chose to remain slaves to the current dominant interpretation of how one must live to keep the “Market” happy. The market is only us and we should settle down to a less stressful life with more poise and more of a long view of what is good for us and for our influence in the world.

States should be allowed to do more. The market and finance  mustn’t be allowed to rule unchallenged.

I am sorry that sounds hopelessly vague but there’s sense in there somewhere.

We want to enjoy German diligence and live and work with them as friends a colleagues.

We should learn from the strong social ethic of belonging together that inspires life in Scandinavia.

Southern Europe and Ireland. I feel sorry for them. Nobody really knows what to do but I am uncomfortable about it all be driven by anonymous unaccountable creditors that we have to keep happy.

I think monetary reform has a vital part to play in the answer (video on banks) and it is gradually becoming a bit clearer.

Above all we should get on with the job of building a political community across the EU. If we are to be a political unit we need to know and understand each other and work together on political issues in the world beyond our collective border. So if anyone out there on the continent is interested in working together on issues within Europe and outside Europe let’s get together and start work. Perhaps the Common Good should be the first pan-European political party. It is well suited to the job since it seeks to rise above the issues in a statesmanlike fashion. It’s a huge job and I’d have to improve my European languages to make it possible. BUT I would love to hear from you if that appeals.