What great thinkers and colourful characters have said about Europe
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.