Saturday, 18 May 2013

Fiddling while Rome burns

Open any British news website and you'll see headlines fuming over a new European Commission directive banning the use of refillable olive oil jugs in restaurants. Predictably, this proved instantly invidious - even this Reuters article is seething. Most reports boil down to "Are they joking? Can you BELIEVE what they've done now? Don't they REALISE..?"  

The immediate reaction of an avid European such as myself is "Hooray, the British press has found another teacup to pour their anti-EU vitriol into. Storm ahoy." And I'm sure Mail columnists will be only too happy to stir as if their ever-outraged lives depended on it. 

One wonders that the Commission doesn't know better. Supporters of European unity already have their work cut out. The Euro is on life support, in Britain a dedicated anti-EU party is surging; the Franco-German alliance is strained and confusion is everywhere to be found. 

Thus it seems mad for the EC to use their scant time & influence attacking a much-loved denizen of the European dining table. The EU is being attacked from left and right as undemocratic, meddling, damaging to Europe's competitiveness…. and whilst much of this vitriol is unwarranted, they are doing their best to justify every accusation levelled against them at once.

Well, hopefully this time the teacup-storm of Britain's press (and similar tumult in the wine-glasses of Italy and paella-pans of Spain) will get the message through to Europe's legislators: hearts and minds must be won if European unity is to really happen.

To end where I began (in burning Rome), commissioners should be fighting back the flames of anti-EU sentiment, European decline and the woes of southern states. Instead they seem content to play discordant melodies on their burning fiddle, heating the unfortunate thing up ever more as they play.

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