do not mention the war

European Conceptions

In History, Identity on May 11, 2011 at 11:27

There is widespread fear that Britain might become too closely engaged in European affairs.

A section in the guardian newspaper is titled World under which there are more subsections. One of them carries the title Europe. It is the conception of Europe within the mainstream English media, that the UK is not a part of the EU and of Europe as a continent. Given the flaws built in the EU constitution this seems rather logic. However, there still linger some suspicion that the British are rather quite pleased that they are living on an island just off the coast of mainland Europe. Just so they can tell themselves that they are not a part of this funny old continent.

From the beginning when Britain initially began thinking about joining the then European Economic Community (EEC) in the 1960s the application has been denied by Charles de Gaulle on grounds of fear that alongside the British, NATO would gain influence in Europe, which was not what France wished to happen. On top of that it was the fear of Americanization that France was worried about. The special relationship the UK ans the US had and possibly still have stopped them from joining with Europe. Personal animosities may have played their role, too.

This separation went even as far as football where it was considered in England that the British style of play was superior to the style of play of the Continentals. That dream lasted until 25 November 1953 when Hungary beat England 6-3 at Wembley. It was further questioned by match reports, that compared West Germany and England as playing a similar style: very physical, fast with hard tackling being the best known ingredients. And for a long time, both teams indeed have played rather similar. Outside football the British and particularly the English beg to differ when it comes to European matters.

In the most negative days of Thatcher, the EU was seen as a German vehicle to dominate Europe; in other words to finish off the work Hitler began some forty years earlier. The Beef War at the beginning of the 1990s served as a prime example of British/English fears of another German European domination. Of course Thatcher and her aides could not have been more wrong in their anxiety and their misjudgment of the Germans. If it did anything, it further estranged Britain from Europe and left the relationship in a bad state, to say the least.


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