What great thinkers and colour­ful char­ac­ters have said about Europe

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - 60 YEARS OF EUROPEAN UNITY - JOHN DALY

When are they ready to leave the nest? In Ire­land, the av­er­age age for young peo­ple to move out of the fam­ily home is 26.3 – that’s right in line with the EU av­er­age, with the ages rang­ing from a low of 19.7 in Swe­den to a high of over 31 in Croa­tia and Malta

Ever since the idea of a United Europe first emerged as a gleam in the eye of the post-First World War gen­er­a­tions, it has ex­cited the ob­ser­va­tions of many — both ap­prov­ing and crit­i­cal.

When Ire­land joined what was then the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity in 1973, it re­sulted in a so­cial and eco­nomic im­pact that few of its most ar­dent sup­port­ers could have prop­erly fore­told.

The sec­ond smallest of the seven con­ti­nents cover­ing roughly 2% of the Earth’s sur­face, Europe has ex­pe­ri­enced war, pesti­lence, po­lit­i­cal in­trigue, and enor­mous wealth cre­ation across the cen­turies.

Al­ways ca­pa­ble of prompt­ing deep di­vi­sions, even among its mem­ber states, the EU in 2017 re­mains an idea as con­tro­ver­sial as it is com­fort­ing, as di­vi­sive as it is uni­fy­ing.

On old joke on the Euro­pean def­i­ni­tion of heaven and hell un­der­lines its of­ten chaotic core: In heaven, the cooks are French, the bankers are Swiss, the lovers are Ital­ian, the po­lice­men are English, and the me­chan­ics are Ger­man. In hell, how­ever, all the bankers are Ital­ian, the cooks are English, the lovers are Swiss, and the po­lice are French.

Europe is not based on a com­mon lan­guage, cul­ture and values. It is, in fact, a clas­sic utopian project, a mon­u­ment to the van­ity of in­tel­lec­tu­als, a pro­gramme whose in­evitable des­tiny is fail­ure; only the scale of the fi­nal dam­age done is in doubt

— Mar­garet Thatcher

‘I couldn’t feel more Euro­pean than when I see Swedish peo­ple, Ger­man peo­ple, Bri­tish peo­ple, ob­vi­ously Span­ish peo­ple, Ital­ians, cheer­ing for me. I mean, you can’t feel more Euro­pean than that. I think that when ev­ery­body comes to­gether and cheers for one, for the same cause, it doesn’t mat­ter where you’re from. I think that’s the ul­ti­mate Euro­pean feel­ing’ — Ry­der Cup star Ser­gio Gar­cia.

‘It will not be any Euro­pean states­man who will unite Europe: Europe will be united by the Chi­nese’ — French pres­i­dent Charles De Gaulle ( who also re­marked, ‘ How can you gov­ern a coun­try that has 246 va­ri­eties of cheese?’)

‘We hope to see a E u r o p e where men o f ev­ery coun­try will think of be­ing a Euro­pean as of be­long­ing to their na­tive l a n d , a place where they will feel, “Here I am a t home” wher­ever they go in this wide do­main.’ — Win­ston Churchill

‘ They’re Ger­mans; don’t men­tion the war’— John Cleese in the most pop­u­lar ‘ Fawlty Tow­ers’ episode. When the out­raged Ger­man asks him to stop talk­ing about the war, Cleese says, ‘ Well you started it, you in­vaded Poland.’

‘There’s a l w a y s been some­thing fishy about the French’ — Noel Coward (who added, ‘I only travel on Ital­ian ships. In the event of sink­ing, there’s none of that “women and chil­dren first” non­sense.’

‘In Europe one gets used to do­ing noth­ing. You sit on your ass and whine a l l day. You get con­tam­i­nated. You rot’ — Henry Miller, who wrote his novel, Tropic of Can­cer, while liv­ing in Paris.

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