C Shannon


A Canadian writing on European affairs. This immediately strikes me as bizarre, but here we are. This week I’m starting a series on Federalism, in particular on European Federalism. I won’t leave you hanging in mystery, I’m for it. You might expect my sensibilities and sympathies to align with the UK, and they do, to some degree. I’m a staunch Royalist and believe very firmly in the relationship between Commonwealth members. This relationship has also informed my preference for a United Europe.

Canada retains some of that 1930’s British optimism about the importance of “the Empire”. This was the point at which we significantly diverged from the UK’s domestic development. This is not to say I want to glorify the abuses against many colonial subjects of the Empire. Those abuses were horrible and should be remembered as such. However, Anglo-Canada wasn’t a colonial population, we were an Imperial population. We were subjects of the crown who set forth to tame new lands in the name of the crown. This will be forever imprinted on our culture as a people, though we tend to turn a blind-eye to it.

Now, my little hypothesis about the nature of the Canadian mentality is interesting. However, it means little if I can’t tie it back to Europe. Context isn’t bad, but it’s time we got this show on the road.

As a Canadian, I will forever look at grand political constructions with awe. A United Europe promises a higher GDP and population than the US, with a fresh moral outlook and proven global leadership in areas, such as climate change. As a country who is on the forefront moral applications of foreign policy, how can a Canadian not get giddy at the prospect of a moral superpower? (Answer: By not being an Academic) Not that I would see such a Europe as an antagonist to the US, but rather a partner in upholding the values we deem to be universal. This is the chief reason I support it. I hold a almost 19th century optimism for the future, like the writings of Jules Verne. A united Europe could be a real force for good in the world, in a way that a semi-divided Europe may have the will or inclination, but lacks the power.

This European goodness, I believe is rooted in its people and its diversity of people. Europe has passionate and vocal populations who push their governments to lead the world in terms of environmental policy and, despite recent setbacks, humanitarianism. I must have said this a thousand times here, so what’s changed? The real value of this isn’t in domestic policy, but in the oft-touted soft power of the EU. If Europe can show that green and humane societies are a viable and successful alternative, it can hope to achieve some of the good, its people enjoy within its border, from without its borders.

For me, someone who lives outside looking in, obviously, I’m going to emphasize the EU’s role in the wider world. That’s inescapable. Acknowledging this, I think a united EU is important for broadcasting the European message abroad and I think more Europe is something the world desperately needs right now, especially in the face of the discussion on climate change. Impotent morality means nothing. There is strength in unity and we need to be strong now more than ever.

Next week’s instalment of this series will deal with my suggestions for a federal Europe with lessons learned from Canadian federalism.

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