A cruise ship full of English, French, Germans and Italians, started sinking in the middle of the Med. The captain radioed for help, but the ship was sinking fast meaning passengers would have to jump into the sea and wait to be picked up. As he grappled with the impending disaster, he sent his Second in Command to give the passengers the instructions. Five minutes later he came back looking anxious. "What's wrong?" the Captain asked. "They all refused to listen" replied the Second. So the Captain went off to do it himself. He came back five minutes later. “Ok, done!” he stated. "How did you do that?" exclaimed the bewildered Second. "Well..." started the Captain "...I told the British it was traditional, I told the French it was fashionable, I told the Germans it was an order and I told the Italians it was forbidden!"
I like this joke. It certainly raises a laugh in Brussels. Perhaps what makes it so entertaining is the underlying truth in the words, a truth that underlines why a fiscal and federal union in Europe will never work.
Nevertheless, the EU remains unfailingly committed to their project. The ongoing crisis in the Eurozone is indicative of that. Greece should have been allowed to leave a year ago. The calls for the Commission to follow this course of action are getting louder and louder. Greece are set to default on repayments. Portugal needs a second bail out and has just discovered a €2 billion black hole left by the outgoing Government. The new leader Pedro Passos Coelho has told the nation that his government will not tolerate any interference by Europe. Italy are teetering on the edge of oblivion, their Minister of Finance stating rather emphatically that “If I fall, Italy falls as well…If Italy, a country too big to be rescued, falls, then the euro falls too!” Spain is also on the brink of collapse meaning the Eurozone’s third and fourth largest economies are set to go bust, which would surely cast the rest of the world back into recession. It’s no laughing matter. The only thing that stands between the Europe and solvency is EU vanity. Under no circumstances will the Commission admit the common currency has flunked or permit a return to former domestic currencies. There is a saying in Brussels that the EU has decided it is no longer correct to "spend a penny" - the new expression is to "Euronate."
Over the summer I will be taking time to get around as many fairs as possible to listen to people’s grievances. As always, I am especially keen to hear from farmers of their concerns about forthcoming changes in the Common Agricultural Policy. With compulsory greening of policy bound to bring a more red tape and a baseline freeze that will stop subsidies keeping up with inflation, farmers are right to be very concerned. To many people not in the agricultural sector, it’s hard to understand the broad impact European policy has. Hold on a minute, there’s another joke to explain:
You have two cows. Socialism: The state takes one and gives it to someone else. Communism: The state takes them both and gives you the milk. Fascism: The state takes both and sells you the milk. Capitalism: You sell one and buy a bull. European Federalism: You have two cows which you can’t afford to keep as milk is imported from member states with cheaper labour. You apply for EU aid to subsidise your cows and are given just enough to keep them. You sell your milk back to a government owned distributor who then puts it on the market at the low price that drove you to need subsidies in the first place.
One thing that can cheer us up this summer is looking forward to Wales having a football team in the Premier League. Whoever you support, Swansea’s promotion is fantastic for the country as a whole. There are also hints that Cardiff City Stadium, Parc Y Scarlets and Rodney Parade, as well as Liberty Stadium, could be full of stars. No, Malky Mackay has not signed Ronaldo, nor has Nigel Davies or Darren Edwards coaxed Dan Carter to play fly half. Sports grounds and team kits across Wales will all have to be adorned with the EU ring of stars if the Commission gets their way. Sadly however it’s not a joke, although I’d very much like it to be.