The best metaphor to describe Europe actual stand is a nightclub. At least that’s what occurred to me after reading articles on the current Euro(pean) crisis. Let’s see:
The EU started by being a very small, restrict club. Given the post-war context, we cannot describe the founding countries as “a group of friends that decided to open up a bar”, but still. It was a tiny space that used to play not the usual “music for the masses”, but rather a very unique sound. The space, to some extent, had its own mystic, if not even its own values. With time, though, that club became more and more popular. When the original owners realized that, they got a bigger space for their club. It became commercial (in this metaphor’s context, this expression assumes a particularly curious duality). Meanwhile all this, it lost some of the values that used to characterized the mystic of the club, keeping some others that for being so vague in order to please everybody, nobody knows no longer in what exactly consists that “mystic”.
This is the history of our club – meaning, the history of the European Union until its current crisis. Let’s now analyse some of the characters that are a part of it:
Let’s start by the DJ, which is the President of the European Commission, Mr. Barroso – or DJ Barroso. Now, this DJ gets one or two tracks right. He’s bearable. He’s far (far, far away) from genius, but at least he doesn’t play any track that will make the crowd boo at him. Still, he’s not able to create an atmosphere, like the good old DJ Delors managed to do. In a last analysis, he’s even a bit mediocre, but he always plays safe and gives the crowd the tracks they want to hear.
The European Central Bank manages the bar. Despite having a strict and even tedious barman that is always telling its customers when he thinks they’re getting drunk, he always serves them what he’s asked to, despite asking different prices for the same drink.
Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton – now those are two people really difficult to put in a metaphor. I’d maybe say they (especially Ashton, though) are some of those useless PR every club has but that no one ever sees and when they speak no one listens. Nor anyone wants to.
Let’s now analyse the Member States. These may be split into two groups, rather asymmetric as to their size: the crowd and the securities. The Member states are all but two a part of the crowd. The exceptions are Germany and France.
In the midst of the crowd, we find many different types of people: in the very first row, almost “attached” to the sound system since the beginning of the night, are Portuguese, Italians, Greeks (lots of them), several drunk Irish and one or two Spanish that also went nuts. The rumour had it they wanted to drink until they pass out and then go straight to the hospital without paying the check. When the owner of the place became aware of this, we gave them their check. It was a mess. The Greeks had stolen bottles from the bar and hidden them; the Portuguese had simply drunk too much for what they could afford. The Irish had throw up to their wallets; it was really embarrassing for them, too. The Spanish needed to go get the money they saved for the taxi. The Italians…cried.
Next are the Eastern countries. They love the concept of the club despite it is long distorted. When they didn’t have the age to get in, they have heard a lot about this place and now they’re thrilled they finally got in.
In the middle of the crowd there are the Central and Northern countries. They like the space as well, as they find it very trendy. Every now and then, there’s one or two of them that drinks a bit too much, but nothing particularly serious. Lately, though, they have beginning drinking less and they’re starting to get annoyed at the people in the front row, especially the Greek and the Portuguese. The Greek are too loud and the Portuguese are irritating because they think they’re familiar with the DJ and keep asking him to play this and that track.
Stuck in a corner, usually sitting on a couch, without talking to anyone but really aggressive if he’s approached (and listening to his own music with sound-proof headphones), there’s the UK. Nobody understands why he didn’t go home already, but no one wants to tell him this. The rumour has it he likes to appear on the family photos.
Now, let’s consider the two guys of the security staff. They have rather distinct roles: the German security watches the inside of the space, always looking for someone smoking indoors or sniffing a line in the bathroom. Every time the German security guard finds the minimum of confusion, she threatens to kick out the ones involved and sometimes seems to abuse their power. Due to her dimension, however, no one wants to argue with her.
As to the French security, their favourite spo(r)t is by the entrance, allowing or blocking folks from getting in. He’s rather small, but he loves his power. To some, he criticises the way they wear. To some others, he says they’re not fulfilling the gender quotas. To the most, however, he just throws them the classic “Entrance fee: 350 euros”. And the guys wanting to enter, who kept raising the money to get the 20 euros to get in, walk away. For now, at least. Maybe they’ll be back in a few hours, when the club is about to close and it isn’t that demanding anymore.
There’s a special case within the people blocked at the entrance: since a long, long time ago, there was a man who really wanted to enter and every other day he would make his way to the beginning of the row. But the security at the entrance, unmoving, would always make him higher demands. At first, the entrance fee for this man was 80 euros. When he raised the 80, the security decided to ask 140 euros. The man protested, but eventually came back with that money in his hand – and the security decided to raise the entrance fee even more. The man, tired of being barred so many times, got tired of it and never appeared there again. In the meanwhile, it is heard he decided himself to open up a bar – and his life is going better than ever.