If no longer -- thank goodness -- the geo-political cockpit of Europe (caught between rival ideologies in the civil war era), Spain cannot be dismissed as a periphery or marginal country out of step with the European project. Spain has all the features of a highly efficient and accountable country, from its ability to produce majority governments from both the respectable left and right, its elaborate system of federalism, and its increased multicultural identity.
The irony of Germany's loss to Italy in the Euro 2012 cup will not be lost on those who have been watching the Eurozone financial crisis play out in recent weeks. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has been steadfast in her opposition to a plan for a common debt issuance program (so-called "euro bonds"), while her electorate have turned up their collective noses to calls for additional handouts to the problem centres like Greece.
A couple of days ago, a friend sent me a video of Nigel Farage speaking at the European Parliament. I hit "play" expecting the general "as polls show..." but before Farage was half-way through his speech, my sides were splitting. It was the greatest and most eloquent utterance on the topic of the EU I have heard from any British public figure since Sir Jimmy Goldsmith spoke at a conference in 1996.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has just floated a proposal to subject all Union members -- not just eurozone members -- to more rigorous budget scrutiny by Union organs. The move is so contrary to the Union treaties and its scope so overreaching to the current eurozone debt crisis that it is doomed to fail.
There already are two currencies: the "Lutheran Euro," characterized by countries that are based on Protestant work ethic, discipline and thrift. Then there is the "Latin Euro," where style is often more important than substance. The euro crisis is this: The "Lutherans" are balking at bailing out the "Latins."