The crisis in Europe has shown just how badly the French model is broken. The single currency is stuttering, its stability pact broken, its members busting their budgets in competitive borrowing. The economy is not up to the challenges it faces from the US, China and India. The ludicrous CAP — which gets German taxpayers to fund French landscape management — is held together by the French veto. The Common Fisheries Policy has succeeded in simultaneously destroying both Europe’s fish stocks and its fishing communities. The EU loses credibility because its parliament has to pay tribute to French pride by decamping to Strasbourg every month. The EU has not just lost the support of its citizens but is destroying support for European co-operation.

The ‘old Europe’ model worked wonders in the fractured post-war world, but it is still fighting the last battle, unfit for the challenges of the 21st century. There is clearly a need for an EU — just not this EU. In a dense patchwork of countries, so close that if one sneezes another gets sneezed on, there is a need for rules to ensure good neighbourliness. With such intertwined economies, ensuring open borders and common standards makes us all better off. Working together, we can often achieve far greater things — such as compelling Microsoft to stop abusing its near monopoly, or enticing Ukraine out of the grip of Russia — than any country could do by itself. ~Anthony Browne, The Spectator (subscription required)

Mr. Browne’s basically Europhile attack on the absurdity of the European Union was an interesting one, and it was as revealing in some ways about the Europhile mentality as it was brilliantly scathing in its attacks on “the French model.” Notice the two examples of “great things” that European cooperation can accomplish that Mr. Browne thought worthy of mention: regulating Microsoft and “enticing Ukraine out of the grip of Russia.” Of course, economically Ukraine is still in the grip of Russia, and Europe had very little to do with the outcome in Kiev. Today the Ukrainian elites are apparently so enamoured of their version of the “French model” that they are engaging in wholesale statism after the brief honeymoon of economic growth under the much-despised, corrupt, but evidently more competent Kuchma and Yanukovych.

But note that the two “great things” that European unity can accomplish are interfering in the market and meddling in the affairs of other nations. Perhaps Mr. Browne sees Washington doing these two things and so believes them to be the natural functions of any continental government. This reveals, to my mind, the impetus behind most projects of European unity, namely to create a larger, more intrusive continental government with aspirations to be an anti-Russian force.

Such European unity will prove to be an auxiliary support to American hegemony, to the detriment of Europeans and wrecking the prospects of ending that hegemony, as both hegemonists and Eurocrats are interested in the same goals in the east. Even if arranged on a federal basis at first, the consolidation of power in one center is inevitable. If the Europeans feel the need to have some international convention or forum where they can sort out disputes between states, that seems sensible, but what is the need for political consolidation of any kind?