‘Europe’ is to have a commissioner to ensure a homogenous way of life
We cannot find anyone who has produced a description, let alone a definition, of the British way of life. This is probably because there are too many variable ways in which Britons live to support a description that would meet widespread approval. The diversity includes issues such as: ethnicity, religion, regional origin and location, wealth, gender, age, political orientation. And many more.
Yet we are expected to take seriously the claim that the European Union represents, promotes and supports ‘the European way of life’ (not ‘a’ way of life). What are the fundamental differences between the European way of life and those of the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand? How about Singapore, Japan or Malaysia? What are the ingredients of a ‘way-of-life’? Is there more democracy, less corruption, greater cultural or racial tolerance. Or is it more state welfare, greater care of less fortunate peoples (the US has the biggest aid spend and the UK leads in Europe despite being relatively unenthusiastic about the EU’s ‘way of life’)? What are the contrasting ways in which other countries (Russia, India, Mexico, Greenland) reveal themselves?
The title chosen by Ursula von der Leyen for a new vice-president of the European Commission is “Protecting the European way of life” (EWOL anyone?). Many groups, even within the EU, have criticised the title and its underlying meaning. But some on the far right link the expression to migration, arguing that what it means is to limit the inward migration of people of different colour or religion. Marine Le Pen has hailed the title as an “ideological victory”.
Manfred Weber, who was ambitious to become the next President of the European Commission, has defended the title, arguing that the political right should not “hijack the European way of life…I want to live the European way of life, with solidarity, with democracy, with protecting human rights, especially when it is about migrants”. It is immediately clear that within the EU even these few characteristics are not held uniformly; Hungary chooses to exclude all migrants, Poland is at odds with the EU over matters of law, and democracy, as understood elsewhere, is not a feature of the EU. As for solidarity, no one seems to agree about the proposed EU budget. But Weber had talked about “defending the European way of life” in his election campaign and we have not found anyone who challenged him on that claim.
So both the next president and a wannabe president want us to accept that there is such a thing as ‘the European way of life’. Even some of those opposed to the title for the new post appear to accept that there is such a thing. Speaking of Hungary, Phillipe Lamberts, co-Chair of the Green Party, said that, “They tried to imprison kids as long as they are migrants, they put up barbed wire, is this the European way of life? I happen to be European and this is not my way of life“.
Margaritis Schinas, a former spokesperson for the Commission and the proposed Vice-President for Protecting the European Way of Life, defended the title, insisting that protection is indeed needed from people who want to destroy the European way of life. We don’t know whether he meant migrants, Victor Orban or British leavers.
Weber goes further and seems to believe that every continent has a way of life: “Is there someone…who wants to live the Chinese way of life, the African way of life or the American way of life? Talk of an “African way of life?” Talk of an “African way of life” points up the silliness of the notion because from Mauritania to Madagascar and from Tunisia to South Africa the variety of life is apparent? (Or is he implying that Africa needs a commissar to oversee homogeneity across the continent). But is he attempting to define crucial characteristics of the EWOL by attributing solidarity, democracy and protecting human rights to the EU? It doesn’t take much to show that these three elements are missing from the EU, let alone from Europe as a whole.  Weber has said that he doesn’t see the problem with the job title, or presumably with the notion of EWOL. Has no one pointed out the problem to him in simple terms; that Europe is wider than the EU and if the notion withstands definition it likely refers to something that does not exist?
Is it possible to imagine a time when ‘Europe’ and ‘the European Union’ really will mean the same thing? And will there come a time when it is possible to define reliably a European way of life? Will, for example, those disagreeable East Europeans see the light eventually through the example of their ‘nicer’ neighbours now that both are controlled by the federal arrangement rather than the Slavic bullies on the opposite front? Together will we reach the zenith of benevolent cooperation and integration, making the EU a beacon of good behaviour to guide the rest of the world?
The concept of an EWOL is nebulous as well as smug, so why do senior (important?) people in the Union promote the idea? What would the EU gain if a majority of its citizens accepted that they live a European way of life, distinct from other ways of life? The most likely explanation is that such acceptance would help to consolidate the much less nebulous notion of ‘ever closer union’.  This is characteristic of the EU; it attempts to hide its true agenda by disguising it under alternative ‘values’.  We will pick this up soon in another post on EU propaganda.