A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[LINK] “I’ve found a perfect new member for the EU. If only it were in Europe”

Back in June 2006 and over at his Comment is free blog hosted by The Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash proposed that Canada would make an excellent new member-state for the European Union.

In most respects it would be a much easier fit than Ukraine, let alone Turkey. It effortlessly meets the EU’s so-called Copenhagen criteria for membership, including democratic government, the rule of law, a well-regulated market economy and respect for minority rights (Canada’s a world-leader on that). Canada is rich, so would be a much-needed net contributor to the European budget at a time when the EU has been taking in lots of poorer states. One of Europe’s besetting weaknesses is disagreement between the British and the French, but on this the two historic rivals would instantly agree. English-speaking Canada would strengthen the Anglophone group in the EU, Quebec the Francophone.

Take the list of things that many Europeans consider to be most characteristic of us – by contrast with the United States. We Europeans believe that the free market should be tamed by values of social justice, solidarity and inclusiveness, realised through a strong welfare state. We don’t have capital punishment. We believe that military force should only be used as a last resort and with the sanction of international law. We support international organisations. We love multilateralism and abhor unilateralism. We tend to think that men and women should be able to live more or less as they please with whomever they please, irrespective of gender and sexual orientation. We pride ourselves on our diversity. Check, check, check. Welcome to Canada.

From here, Ash goes on to argue that the values described as “European” (Nordic, Rhineland or Mediterranean models of capitalism, say, or certain kinds of social liberalism) are not exclusively Europeans, and are in fact shared by many people around the world, including “Americans in the liberal blue states of the US.” After criticizing Canadians and Europeans alike for their alleged “obsession with the United States, and [their] distinguishing themselves from it, often by crude stereotyping,” Ash goes on to suggest that non-American democracies should get their act together, stop punching below their weight, and start promoting the good elements of their social models, preferably in concert with other democracies. Whatever similarities exist with his arguments in his 2006 book Free World are probably quite intentional.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 29, 2008 at 10:28 pm

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