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Swamp

Confessions of an Academic Pseudo-Giraffe
25.5.04  
This scenario of gargantuan ambition that people call the EU never ceases to amaze anyone who likes to observe how international politics (refuse to) work. We have 25 countries, several of them with marked inner divisions, with relatively few common interests, and decision making is still supposed to be based on some kind of consensus. Now that the constitution is being negotiated on, several Catholic countries insist on a reference to God in the text, while most Protestants would rather just keep church and politics apart. And if Turkey ever comes along, a constitution leaning on Christianity will produce a lot of trouble.

Of course, religious issues are merely one part of Europe's major dividing forces. Mediterraneans think that the North is cold, dull, and tasteless. Northern Europeans think that in the South people have neither a sense of moral backbone nor awareness of what goes on in the world. There was an excellent little playful article in the monthly magazine of Helsingin Sanomat, titled "Reasonable Union", suggesting that a group of northern countries ("only the Protestant countries of efficacy and discipline") form a union of their own: one where things work. Some translations:

This new union would naturally comprise the Nordic Countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Germany of course. Although half of the Dutch are Catholic, the neat and punctual clog people could perhaps be allowed in. [...]
It is a pity that the solemn Calvinist of Switzerland, with their banks, are impossible to persuade into joining. They would fit in well in this group of reasonable nations. [...]
The Protestant Union is a union of sausages, beer, butter-fried food, and symphony music. It is tidy, and everything's in order. [...]
Individuals are responsible for their actions, as Luther taught; there's no need for Popes and saints. [...]
We will produce the necessary number of children and divorce if we feel like it.
Football is played with integrity. Crybabies and divers remain on the other side of the border. 0-0 equals shame for both teams. [...]
The meter shows the price of the taxi ride.
The waiter returns tips. [...]
Short and brisk meetings, clear schedules. Stick to them. Away with chitchat and trifles.
We want a world where, upon an emergency, we can call 112 [=911], not our cousin's ambulance firm.

Old Ones
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