The Vatican has approved a decree declaring the “heroic virtues” of Robert Schuman, one of the EU’s founding fathers, meaning he can be called “venerable” by the Catholic faithful – a step along the path to possible sainthood.
On 9 May 1950, Schuman, a French prime minister, finance minister and foreign minister, gave a landmark speech proposing economic convergence between European nations – especially France and Germany – to help prevent another war. His was a profoundly European story. Born German in Luxembourg, to a father born French who became German in 1871, when Lorraine was annexed by Germany. When it returned to France after the first world war, Schuman’s father became French again – as did Schuman. Elected a French MP in 1919, he was arrested for “acts of resistance” in 1940 and narrowly escaped being sent to Dachau. It was to avoid further such “unending clashes of nationalities and nationalisms” that he foresaw “a great experiment”:
"Our century must succeed in reconciling nations in a supranational association … safeguarding the diversities and aspirations of each nation while coordinating them in the same manner as the regions are coordinated within the unity of the nation"
Europe as an entity is ancient and shrouded in the mists of time, mythology and longevity. The exact etymology of the word Europe is not certain.
Europe existed as a conceptual construct long before geographers began arguing whether there are seven continents or six (the latter model considers Europe and Asia to be a single continent). The ancient Greeks divided the world into three major units: Europe, Asia, and Libya, the last of which referred to the known northern portion of Africa. Those were the divisions that Ptolemy used when he laid out his map of the world in the Guide to Geography (Geōgraphikē hyphēgēsis) in the 2nd century CE. So the notion of Europe is very old, but where does the name come from?
The origin for the name ‘Europe’ can be found in the Semitic Akkadian language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The Akkadian word ‘erebu’, meaning ‘sunset’ from the Mesopotamian perspective is where the western-setting sun descended. As a corollary, they cite the Akkadian word for sunrise, ‘asu’, from which they believe the name ‘Asia’ is derived. From a Mesopotamian ground zero, the eastern-rising sun would have ascended from Asia.
For the Phoenicians, Europe was the land where the sun set; everywhere west of them. The Phoenician culture originated in the Eastern Mediterranean region of the Levant (Southern Syria, Lebanon and Northern Israel) in the 2nd millennium BCE, although this area had been settled since the Neolithic period. The Phoenicians founded the coastal city-states of Byblos, Sidon and Tyre (ancient Canaan).
Linguistically, parsing the roots of ‘Europe’ by combining‘eurys’, meaning ‘wide’, and ‘ops’, meaning ‘face’ or ‘eye’, to arrive at ‘wide-gazing’ makes an appropriate description of Europe’s broad shoreline as seen from the shipboard perspective of the maritime Greeks. By extension, it is believedthis phrase also connotes ‘mainland’. Adventurous travellers who got closer to the northern lands reported the existence of mountain systems and river basins that were much larger than those of the Mediterranean region, along with climates that were very different from those the Greeks experienced, not to mention expansive primeval forests and sweeping steppes.
The eponym for Europe is based upon the mythology of the Greek goddess Europa some of which date back millennia. One of the oldest versions identifies Europa as one of the Oceanides, the 3,000 sea nymphs who occupied a lower tier in the hierarchy of Greek mythology. Europa was one of only 41 of these minor deities who were thought worthy of naming. Other versions link Europa with Demeter, the goddess of earth and agriculture. Although it is not certain which name came first, it has been presumed that Europa was a local pre-Greek name for an earth goddess, whereas Demeter is a Greek or Greek-derived name for a more regional deity. In the best-known version of the Europa myth, Europa, the daughter either of Phoenix or of Agenor, king of Phoenicia, was abducted by Zeus, who had disguised himself as a white bull. Zeus spirited her away from Phoenicia to Crete, where she bore him three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon.
No one knows for sure the origin of Europe’s name, but it has certainly stuck.
During the Neolithic era(starting circa 7000 BC) and the time of the Indo-European (starting circa 4000 BC) Europe saw massive migrations from the east and south-east which also brought agriculture, new technologies, and the Indo-European languages, primarily through the areas of the Balkan peninsula and the Black Sea region.
The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations of late prehistoric Europe which flourished during the Bronze Age collapsed in a short period of time around 1200 BC.
The period known as classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of Ancient Greece. After ultimately checking the Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian in the 5th century BC, Greek influence reached its zenith under the expansive empire of Alexander the Great, spreading throughout Asia, Africa, and other parts of Europe. The Thracians, their powerful Odrysian kingdom, distinct culture and architecture were long present in Southeast Europe.
The Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin. By 300 AD the Roman Empire was divided into the Western and Eastern empires. During the 4th and 5th centuries, the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe, pressed by the Huns, grew in strength and led repeated attacks that resulted in the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Western empire's collapse in AD 476 traditionally marks the end of the classical period and the start of the Middle Ages.
In Western Europe, Germanic peoples became more powerful in the remnants of the former Western Roman Empire and established kingdoms and empires of their own. Of all of the Germanic peoples, the Franks would rise to a position of hegemony over Western Europe, the Frankish Empire reaching its peak under Charlemagne around 800. This empire was later divided into several parts; West Francia would evolve into the Kingdom of France, while East Francia would evolve into the Holy Roman Empire, a precursor to modern Germany and Italy. The British Isles were the site of several large-scale migrations.
The Byzantine Empire, the eastern part of the Roman Empire, with its capital Constantinople now Istanbul), survived for the next 1000 years. During most of its existence, the empire was the most dominant empire, also most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. The powerful and long lived Bulgarian Empire was its main competitor in the region of Southeast Europe for centuries. Byzantine art, architecture, political dominance, and Bulgarian cultural and linguistic achievements left great legacy in Orthodox ad Slavic Europe and beyond through the Middle Ages to this day.
The Viking Age, a period of migrations of Scandinavian peoples, occurred from the late 8th century to the middle 11th century. The Normans, descendants of the Vikings who settled in Northern France, had a significant impact on many parts of Europe, from the Norman conquest of England to Sicily. The Rus’ people founded Kievan Rus’', which evolved into Russia. After 1000 the Crusades were a series of religiously motivated military expeditions originally intended to bring the Levant back under Christian rule. The Crusaders opened trade routes which enabled the merchant republics of Genoa and Venice to become major economic powers. The Reconquista, a related movement, worked to reconquer Iberia for Christendom.
Eastern Europe in the High Middle Ages was dominated by the rise and fall of the Mongol Empire. Led by Genghis Khan, the Mongols were a group of steppe nomads who established a decentralized empire which, at its height, extended from China in the east to the Black and Baltic Seas in Europe. As Mongol power waned towards the Late Middle Ages, the Grand Duchy of Moscow rose to become the strongest of the numerous Russian principalities and republics and would grow into the Tsardom of Russian 1547. The Late Middle Ages represented a period of upheaval in Europe. The epidemic known as the Black Death and an associated famine caused demographic catastrophe in Europe as the population plummeted. Dynastic struggles and wars of conquest kept many of the states of Europe at war for much of the period. In Scandinavia, the Kalmar Union dominated the political landscape, while England fought with Scotland in the Wars of Scottish Independence and with France in the Hundred Years’ War. In Central Europe, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth became a large territorial empire, while the Holy Roman Empire, which was an elective monarchy, came to be dominated for centuries by the House of Hapsburg. Russia continued to expand southward and eastward into former Mongol lands. In the Balkans, the Ottoman Empire overran Byzantine lands, culminating in the fall of Constantinople in 1453, which historians mark as the end of the Middle Ages.
Beginning in the 14th century in Florence and later spreading through Europe, a Renaissance of knowledge challenged traditional doctrines in science and theology. The rediscovery of classical Greek and Roman knowledge had an enormous liberating effect on intellectuals. Simultaneously, the Protestant Reformation under German Martin Luther questioned Papal authority. Henry VIII seized control of the English Church and its lands. The European religious wars were fought between German and Spanish rulers. The Reconquista ended Muslim rule in Iberia. By the 1490s a series of oceanic explorations marked the age of discovery, establishing direct links with Africa, the Americas and Asia. Religious wars continued to be fought in Europe, until the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. The Spanish crown maintained its hegemony in Europe and was the leading power on the continent until the signing of the treaty of the Pyrenees, which ended a conflict between Spain and France that had begun during the Thirty Years War. An unprecedented series of major wars and political revolutions took place around Europe and the world in the period between 1610 and 1700.
The Industrial Revolution began in Britain, based on coal, steam, and textile mills. Political change in continental Europe was spurred by the French Revolution under the motto ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’. Napoleon Bonaparte took control, made many reforms inside France, and transformed Western Europe. But his rise stimulated both nationalism and reaction and he was defeated in 1814–15 as the old royal conservatives returned to power.
The period between 1815 and 1871 saw revolutionary attempts in much of Europe (apart from Britain). They all failed however. As industrial work forces grew in Western Europe, socialism and trade union activity developed. The last vestiges of serfdom were abolished in Russia in 1861. Greece and the other Balkan nations began a long slow road to independence from the Ottoman Empire, starting in the 1820s. Italy was unified in its Risorgimento in 1860. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, Otto von Bismarck unified the German states into an empire that was politically and militarily dominant until 1914. Most of Europe scrambled for imperial colonies in Africa and Asia in the age of Empire. Britain and France built the largest empires, while diplomats ensured there were no major wars in Europe, apart from the Crimean War of the 1850s.
The outbreak of the World War I in 1914 was precipitated by the rise of nationalism in South-eastern Europe as the Great Powers took sides. The 1917 October Revolution led the Russian Empire to become the world's first communist state, the Soviet Union. The Allies, led by Britain, France, and the United States, defeated the Central Powers, led by the German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1918. During the Paris Peace Conference, the Big Four imposed their terms in a series of treaties, especially the Treaty of Versailles. The war's human and material devastation was unprecedented. Germany lost its overseas empire and several provinces, had to pay large reparations, and was humiliated by the victors. They in turn had large debts to the United States.
The 1920s were prosperous until 1929 when the Great Depression broke out, which led to the collapse of democracy in many European states. The Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, rearmed Germany, and along with Mussolini's Italy sought to assert themselves on the continent. Other nations, who had not taken to the attractions of fascism, sought to avoid conflict. They set boundaries of appeasement, which Hitler ignored. World War II began. The war ended with the defeat of the Axis Powers but the threat of more conflict was recognised before the war's end. Many from the US were suspicious of how the USSR would treat the peace. In the USSR there was paranoia at US forces in Europe. Eastern/Western Front meetings among leaders were inconclusive. In the closing months of the war there was a race to the finish. The territories liberated from the Nazis by troops from the USSR found they had exchanged fascism for communism. The USSR, however, would not leave those territories for forty years. The USSR claimed they needed buffer states between them and the nascent NATO. In the west, the term Iron Curtain entered the language. The United States launched the Marshall Plan from 1948 to 1951 and NATO from 1949, and rebuilt industrial economies that all were thriving by the 1950s. France and West Germany took the lead in forming the European Economic Community, which eventually became the European Union (EU). Secularization saw the weakening of Protestant and Catholic churches across most of Europe, except where they were symbols of reaction, as in Poland. The Counter Revolutions of 1989 brought an end to both Soviet hegemony and communism Eastern Europe. Germany was reunited, Europe’s integration deepened, and both NATO and the EU expanded to the east. The EU expanded until 2016 when the UK left the Union.
Would it be a shock to British Citizens to discover that the level of protection afforded to them by the British Government wherever they are in the world is of minimal value. It is a well kept secret in fact that the dear old UK is not the great industrial power it once believed itself to be, and that this belief would protect British Citizens.
With the mobilisation of Brexit and the UK withdrawal from its European allies, business, welfare and security partners, certain anomalies have raised their hard-edged truths. One of which is the abandonment of several million UK citizens, who are living, working, studying, and growing up in European countries other than the UK for a multitude of reasons. This appears to be of little concern for the present Govt. The abandonment may mean the loss of a job, the removal of UK banking and credit facilities, the removal of funds to continue studies, the removal of UK / European businesses trading with the UK. the removal of the right to vote for your protection in the European country in which you reside, as well as in some cases having lost the right to vote in the UK. The right to have a say in your means of habituation is a human right but taken without any thought or maybe care by the present Govt. In fact there is no champion for anybody living outside of the UK. This does not bode well for the slogan make the UK great again.
However, coming over the hill is a group of Cross Party MEPS, working with the European Citizens rights Involvement and Trust Foundation (ECIT Foundation ) who see the injustice in the abandonment of UK citizens in Europe and who are making a very bold and caring move to have the European Nationality returned to the these citizens to provide them with a level of security and protection, the UK Govt did not feel they warranted.
It is proposed that under the draft copy of the Statute of European Citizenship article 2 " Persons from third countries (UK included) who are legally resident in the European Union should be given the opportunity to obtain the nationality of their host Member State, and therefore become European citizens. This can be a costly and arduous process especially for the aging UK citizens, living in Europe, However, this has been noted by the ECIT, The important section follows. Prior to obtaining Member State nationality, they should enjoy a set of European rights equivalent to those of European citizens". .
This proposal will shortly start the process of discussion through the European parliamentary system and is deserving of the support of the UK Citizens living in European countries other than the UK.
Well another Fez Noz ruined because of the rain and lack of visitors, we are all too used to staying at home I think. An article in Connections today highlighted the difference in treatment to us expats living in Europe to the Blackshirt treatment of EU's living in the UK, and the stress being felt by expats in case the situation should be reversed. It appears that all that I was taught as a child about the human decency in the UK seems to have gone awry due to the poor high level of second and thirders presently residing in HM Govt, who do not seem to be bringing anything of class to the top table, a racist statement if ever I heard one. The worst of it is the great British decency I knew and loved, seems to have been mothballed till the younger/ next generation grows into it.
I was thinking of entering my chickens into the Japanese Olympics freestyle swimming event, but not even sure if that is going to happen, and I dont want to stress the girls any further, no eggs for a fortnight I suspect. Mind you the slugs are having a field day on my young shoots, is napalm allowed in France do you know.
Gone are the days when I used to think there is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it is just another locomotive bearing down on us at an even faster pace. I think it is about time they made cannabis legal tender just to have something to look forward to!!!!!!!.
A fest-noz (plural festoù-noz) is a traditional dance festival in Brittany. Most Breton dances are social dances, in a group. Currently, many festoù-noz are also held outside Brittany within diaspora, bringing the Breton culture to life outside Breton territory.
In the global village, climate continues to change with planetary and human activity. Deserts have become irrigated agricultural factories to feed the world. Instead of cities, 3D printed dwellings fill the habitable landscape. In uninhabitable areas natural resources have been stripped. Like erstwhile village greens or commons, the oceans or global commons have been annexed by regional powers. Space is a whirling mass of junk from unregulated commerce. Globalisation is becoming Extra-Planetary Development.
The petty squabbles of the early 21stcentury have been regulated and are managed by continental powers; the Americas (North and South), Europe, including western Russia, Africa and Asia (dominated by China but including Australia and New Zealand) along with inbetweeners such as now ice-free Antarctica, the oil-exhausted Middle East, the scattered islands and other vestiges of forgotten Empires, … and the British Isles.
English exceptionalism pervades; both as the arrogance of empire and the humiliation of not being able to answer the questions; Where am I? Who am I? What the Hell do I do next? It doesn’t have to be like that, it really doesn’t.
There is no British Empire. Its legacy, the Commonwealth, is now a club for the clubbable who drop in or out, more or less at will. The Overseas Territories are merely tax-havens and money-laundromats, the permanent seat on the UN Security Council is an anachronism. Trident and tanks are costly panaceas. The UK is pulling itself apart. Brought into being by a series of historical accidents and aggressions, it is held together by a hotchpotch of conventions, treaties, and traditions, all of which are ignored by the present Government. Unlike all but a very few other states in the world, it has no encoded protection of the citizen or restraint on the power of the state.
What remains is a ruin whose very foundations have been eroded. Corruption and incompetence are everywhere. Hope struggles in the face of the daily soap opera that lurches between Alice in Wonderland and Orwellian nightmares. While crooks and charlatans pose as saviours, the band plays on – the UK still has20 military bands – music for the lumbering dance of the Court Jester, our Prime Minister.
The 40 year flirtation with the real world ended in tears when fantasy hit reality and the UK departed from its nearest neighbours and partners on the sole grounds of post-imperial nostalgia. Time to grow up? Abandon the past? Accept reality? Time to put the house in order. Here are some initiatives that could be planned for the next 20 years.
Shake off the imperial past and give up the Commonwealth and Overseas Territories. Take a step towards a more effective UN by resigning the UK’spermanent seat on the Security Council. Set an example by cancelling Trident’s successor and begin to revive the United Kingdom by recognizing its strengths – its peoples. Strength and hope emerge from empowering individuals and communities. The plan is Constitutional renewal, the goal a new British Isles, where, step by step Ireland is reunited as one Republic, Wales cedes its role as a principality and gains independence and Scotland abandons its union with England. England now has some tough decisions for its survival and sustainable future. The myriad of election systems, but especially the first past the post system, are to be replaced by more representative elections leading to strong regional governments across the country, e.g. London (inside the M25), South East, South West, East Anglia, Northumbria, Midlands etc. All details to be decided. The Nations and Regions have the opportunity to join and unite in the modernised European Union of the Regions, a balanced and democratic choice.
The basis of this change is democratic constitutional renewal; not reform, renewal.