William Cash has recently published a good book on the evolution of the EU, entitled From Brussels with love. With his co author Radomir Tylecote he charts the rise of the idea of a political union in Europe from its origins just after the end of the 2 nd World War. He also delves much deeper into German history and thought to establish the origins of Germany’s idea of technocratic government, on very different lines to the Anglo Saxon impulse to democratic and majoritarian rule.
It is a useful source book to understand why Germany twice tried to create a wider united Europe by force. It shows how the peaceful bureaucratic approach to European Union shares some of the same aims but seeks to achieve it by very different means. The emphasis is on the elite class of politicians, senior officials, leading business people, leading academics and opinion formers coming to an agreed view of the world and ensuring it prevails. The peaceful version of this that underlies the EU rewards all those well educated and insider people who are willing to go along with the group think and are prepared to promote a wider Union.
Reading the book reminded me of the frequent conversations and meetings I used to have to have with Germans in the run up to the creation of the Euro. They were quite sure they could persuade me of the wisdom of the scheme, as they hoped I was intelligent and well educated like them so would be able to see it from their point of view. I always seemed to disappoint them. They never engaged in trying to understand the very grave reservations I had about the wisdom of embarking on a single currency without a political union to back it up. On one occasion when I argued that a large majority of the German people wanted to keep the Deutschemark, they summed up the attitude Bill describes. They told me the polling of the business and government elites showed 70% support for the Euro scheme, so it would go ahead regardless of the 70% of the German voters who disagreed.
Bill’s book offers many useful insights into the longer term history of the EU project. It also reveals much about the German governing mind, and its different approach to our democratic clash of opinions.