Sun, Jan 27, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Macron and Merkel are trying to safeguard Europe, not dominate it

For all its flaws, a new friendship treaty sees a bigger picture that is lost on Britain’s small-minded leaders

By Simon Tisdall  /  The Guardian

The ensuing partnership was a crucial cornerstone in the construction of the EU, still by far the world’s most successful model of interstate collaboration. It helped bring unprecedented peace, security and prosperity to Europe.

“Seventy-four years, a single human lifetime, after the end of World War II, what seems self-evident is being called into question again,” Merkel said on signing the treaty. “That’s why, first of all, there needs to be a new commitment toward our responsibility within the EU, a responsibility held by Germany and France.”

Second, by reaffirming their partnership, France and Germany are not seeking to dominate, but to safeguard those hard-won gains in the face of a dangerous pan-European upsurge in nationalist sentiment, divisive rightwing demagoguery, and out-and-out racism and xenophobia.

They are seeking to compensate for the damaging loss of Britain as an active partner in that ongoing fight. It is to Britain’s great collective shame that it appears set on abandoning the field and retreating into delusional nostalgia for an imagined past at the very moment when the forces of reaction are gathering new strength.

Last, Macron and Merkel are doing what any British leader worth their salt should instinctively be doing, too. They are reinforcing Europe’s defenses against the depredations, current and future, of a US that is increasingly intent on exploiting the privileges conferred by global leadership, while rejecting the accompanying responsibilities; and against the rise of a ruthless new superpower, China, whose authoritarian, anti-democratic practices fundamentally challenge European values of independence, freedom of action and individual rights.

For all their faults and weaknesses, Macron and Merkel can still see the bigger picture. These days, Britain’s small-minded leaders cannot see beyond their rather stuck-up noses.

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