Monday, September 24, 2012

The European Union seen from Brighton

Hi there, or should I say "Saluton"? (= "hello" in Esperanto)

One of the fields I'm most interested in is the European Union, a topic that is getting more and more interesting as the crisis goes on. It is also particularly interesting for me because I have the opportunity to see how two different nations (Italy and the United Kingdom) cope with it. That's one of the reasons I've recently started to engage with the notions of identity, in such a vast reality and diverse as the EU undoubtedly is.

Italian people are generally quite happy with the EU. No, they are not necessarily happy, but they acknowledge it as an important part of the identity. It's always been there, for better or for worse (and, generally, it's been for better, though not always). Italians ALWAYS complain, about everything, and they obviously complain about the EU, too. But they complain about it as a teenager would complain about his parents: they don't leave him the freedom he would like, but deep inside he still loves them and generally does what they say. A look at the Eurobarometers can easily show this inclination.

The UK, on the other hand, is the total opposite. British people not only dislike the EU for what they feel are its "impositions", but they don't even acknowledge being part of Europe. I know not all British are like this, but that's the feeling I get when talking to many of my fellow students, even those who study Politics with me. Speaking metaphorically again, it's a bit like the EU was a distant relative that has the habit of always come into your house and criticize you. Your parents keep telling you that you have to put up with him, so you do, but if it was for you'd lock him out of the house and never let him in again. It's really, really weird for me, because it's a conception of the EU that doesn't make sense.

What's the perception of the EU in your country, if you are from a EU country? Do you think the UK will ever feel European, or do you think they'll keep on feeling almost like another continent?


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