ramblings of an aimless mind

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Euro-logy

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I have been learning a lot about Europe lately, thanks to a few very simple facts…

1. I have been in Paris for the last 2 months
2. I dont know enough French to plunge headlong into French cinema/serials etc
3. The only english channel I get on the TV is BBC
4. BBC is screening a host of Europe-centric programs lately.

But I always found Europe to be a fascinating place, mainly because of its huge diversity, not only in language, food and social mores, but even in the more "un-emotional" aspects such as economic models, laws, and social structures. Other nations like India and the US are also amazingly diverse, but the fact that they are centrally governed takes care of the elimination of the legal and economic diversity.

"Just one tiny little moment", I hear just about everyone who bothers to read this blog say. They would then go ahead to point out the very obvious flaw in the above comparison, that I am comparing a whole continent with just one country. The right comparison would be one between Europe and Asia or Europe and the Americas, in which case a more logical picture would emerges…

…and that brings me to that facet of Europe that I find most appreciable and laudable.

It is truly a success story that the European nations have managed to get quite a large chunk of the world to think of them as "Europe" rather than individual nation states. At a time when we see most countries with peaceful pasts tearing themselves apart, it is refreshing to have one example of a group of nations, with a history that can hardly be called harmonious, driving towards integration. They have been quite successful too, tearing down many a barrier against movement of goods, services and people within the EU, adopting a single currency, abiding by common industrial standards and in general projecting the feeling of it being one country rather a collection of many. Add to that the superb transport and communication links that make international transport within the continent akin to a train ride elsewhere and we have even closer integration.

The arrangement is still far from being harmonious and a lot of coutries have objections with what the others are doing. From what I learn from the BBC, there are huge differences between the member states on how the economies should be run, how the social service should be strutured and a zillion other issues, but they all staunchly stay "member states" of the Union, trying forever to overcome these differences and reach a consensus, aware that it is in their interest to co-operate. From my extremely lay-man view of economics, this seems to be a precursor to a the much touted "global economy" where there are minimum barriers to exchange of goods/services/people. A sudden introduction of such a system today would probably be catastrophic, with hordes of people moving from the poorer parts of the world to the more fortunate ones in search of a better life. But maybe sometime in the future, if most countries of the world settle at more or the less the same economic prosperity, then the tendency would be to stay in a place one prefers, rather than to be driven around by the lure of more money, a bigger house or a faster car. It is in such a case that the borders could be opened without the accompanying deluge and we would be truly global.

I feel Europe is a smaller model of such an economy, there are a huge number of people who commute between France and UK or France and Germany/Belgium, but at the end of the day they come back home. Not for them is the idea of being uprooted from one country, flying halway across the globe, moulding oneself completely to suit another way of life and then spending half of ones time reminiscing about home while sticking on in a foreign land.

I dont really know how far the Europeans are from their one-country-continent, but I sure wish them luck and will be watching as closely as I can.

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Written by clueso

May 11, 2006 at 10:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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