Updated: May 9
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The Mechanisms and Function of the European Union Going Forward into the 21st Century or Quid Pro Euro? - This is a European Videos Production.
We're nearly at the end of 1995. A year for the history books! But what's next for the EU when we leave this decade, this century, and this thousandry? In this series, we’re going to find out. Today: Fish.
When you picture the Atlantic ocean, what do you see? You see turquoise waters under an egg-yolk sunrise. You see warm lapping wavelets. You see a horizon you could lick.
But if you dip beneath the surface, you’ll find a darker story. As you snorkel over an ocean floor criss-crossed with the scars of years of violence, you could be forgiven for ignoring the rubble and focusing instead on evidence of everyday life. Here, a bream swimming with its family. There, an eel buying a pain au chocolat. Or there, a school of haddock.
These mundanities are in stark contrast to the fallen coral, the water raid sirens, and the fear of stepping on a bit of sand which hides a sea urchin. Here comes a cautious ambulance driven by emergency mackerel technicians.
Though most of us go through our lives knowing nothing of it, the Atlantic ocean bed is the field of the European Union’s longest and bloodiest war. This is UnderWaterloo.
On the one side, a rag-tag guerrilla army of squid. There’s fewer of them, their flesh is soft, and their training happens in the field. But they know the landscape better than anyone, using this patch of sand or that bubble as extraordinary camouflage. Their numbers dwindle every day but the squid don’t surrender.
On the other side, across the ocean floor stretches out the serried ranks of shellfish. The alliance of prawns, shrimps, lobsters, langoustines, mussels, winkles, cockles, clams, whelks, crabs, and slices of lemon fights like a mallet: methodical, repeated and crushing. Their numbers grow daily. Raised on a diet of fear and propaganda, the crustacean hatred of the squid boils through the waters.
On the other side of the Union, a small fishing boat chugs to the centre of Lake Geneva, the stormy freshwater lake. Freshwater is created when clouds fall in love. Like these ones in the sky. They laugh and dance and rain. Around and through the happy clouds glides the pulsing head of Barracuda. He dives with joy as he patrols the skies of Switzerland, the newest member of the European Union.
Switzerland has joined the European Union because it asked nicely.
Actually, it hasn’t fully joined yet. We need to finish the paperwork. The European Union loves paperwork and therefore so does Switzerland. This fishing boat has a precious cargo: admin.
Here’s the hold: full of paper. And the galley? Full of paper. And the berths? Full of paper. And the captain? The captain is so full of paper, there are documents poking out of his eye sockets where his eyes should be. Paper is calming.
And who’s this in the forward cabin, sandwiched between three folders of appendices and a printer? Is it a negotiator? Yes! This person is a skilled negotiator. Is it an official negotiator? Yes! This is the second most official person in the European Union. Is it… little him? It’s little him! Little him is the European Union’s chief negotiator and favourite thirteen year old: Silver Fox!
Silver Fox was always fascinated by the sea. When not boarding at his Swiss private school learning private school subjects like violin, etiquette and governance, Barracuda’s youngest child loved to spend time on his own floating satellite array in the middle of the sea, where hundreds of giant satellite discs were pointed toward the water in search of intelligent life.
One time, Silver Fox held his birthday party on the floating giant satellite array in the sea and as they were leaving, all his friends were given 40 cl of saltwater in a party bag. Saltwater is created when clouds fight.
In the Atlantic ocean, in a command tent made of out sea cucumbers, a large Zelande mussel readjusts sardine models of his forces around a sea-sponge map when the news is brought in by two small grey shrimps. The little shrimps only signed up last month. They tremble with excitement to bring such a message. It seems the squid are in retreat.
The old mussel tugs at his beard, then relays his order: it is time to bring in the crabs. The young grey shrimps leave to tell them.
Silver Fox’s boat clips along the lake through the growing waves. The clouds are getting darker. The rain is growing heavier.
His destination is this island which is home only to an abandoned warehouse from some past misadventure, and a small native colony of penguins.
In the warehouse sits a representative of the Swiss government. She passes the time by turning the lights on and off. In this building, at this table, Silver Fox and the Swiss Representative will together sign the European Union’s most sacred document, the one which binds us all together: The Common Fisheries Policy.
Skimming over the limpid Atlantic waves, this bright red ship is the shellfish’s heaviest weapon. Sixty two metres long and ten high of tightly packed military grade crabs, the corvette is pulled through the waves by a pack of dolphins. The crabs keep formation by clutching pincers.
On deck, lobsters scuttle to the attack. Lobsters are natural sailors. Depth charge whelk shells are dropped through the water to explode onto the retreating squid.
The lobsters cheer for their victory.
Sitting on the floor in the fishing boat on lake Geneva, despite the thrill of soon signing an addendum to the Common Fisheries Policy, Silver Fox is distracted. His mind, as ever, is below the waves. He dwells on a time, some years ago, when he descended underneath his satellite disc array in a bathysphere right to the bottom of the ocean. Little is known of his adventure although it is famous for preoccupying him. Did he find life? Did he speak to a creature which lives differently in space-time? Did he meet himself coming up the other way? Silver Fox will not say.
The boat slows as it approaches the newly christened Jean Monnet Island, named after one of the founding fathers of the European Union’s artistic legacy: Claude Monet.
In the placid Atlantic ocean, the red ship thunders. But it isn’t alone. What’s that coming through the sky? Grey and black and flying straight for the ship?
It’s a helicopter made from octopuses. This one sits upside down at the top to provide tentacle propellers. This cuttlefish is in the cockpit, steering. This one is at the open door, firing high velocity ink from an octopus machine gun. This third one is hanging from a rope ladder, screaming obscenities. The crabs are now so slippery they are losing grip. The ship gives a shudder, a judder, it loses its rudder, and the crabs fall away. Here is the deck caving in. Now the hull breaks apart. The dolphins flee. Some of the crabs are isolated and therefore explode. Others remain clinging together in makeshift rafts which are now home to a few desperate lobsters. They float away waving their little sailors hats.
The squid have earned a reprieve. For now. But the shellfish forces will be back. Whatever can they do?
On Jean Monnet Island, Silver Fox, several thousand kilograms of Common Fisheries Policy, and a ballpoint pen have disembarked. Not too far away, the representative of the Swiss government, who is also thirteen years old and who goes to the same school as Silver Fox, stands ready at the door wearing her official Eastpak. And high above, the zeppelin head of Silver Fox’s adoring father, Barracuda, whirls with joy.
A couple of penguins have arrived to watch.
Do you think that’s a strange look on Silver Fox’ face? Almost fearful. Perhaps he doesn’t like storms, it’s really pelting down! Look, those penguins are sharing an umbrella. Silver Fox and the Swiss Representative stare stiffly at each other, no doubt thinking about the awful weather. Look, those penguins have put on K-Ways. Silver Fox pulls out the first sheet to be signed, walks up to his counterpart and … tears the page in two? What? Oh no. Oh dear.
It seems that Silver Fox has no intention of making the Swiss Representative sign his papers. Perhaps it was a mistake to send him to private school in Switzerland. The European Union’s favourite child is about to betray the European Union. Poor fool, Silver Fox, what do you think can come of this? Think of the coal. Won’t you please think of the coal?
From the skies, a roar of rage. Lightning strikes. Wind whips. His father has seen what’s going on and he is angry. The wind grows as the sheet-like head of Barracuda pummels down with eyes reflecting the storm.
But wait, what’s that object? A dot on the Western horizon growing and growing and -
From the direction of the Atlantic ocean, it’s a helicopter made of octopuses. The cuttlefish gunner fires high velocity ink at the island. The one hanging from the rope ladder screams defiance and, caught up in the moment, accidentally picks up a penguin which immediately puts on a bandana. The ink peppers the mass of unloaded paperwork …. Which explodes. Silver Fox must have promised the squid to help them in their war against the shellfish in exchange for backing him up in his betrayal. How awful!
And now, from the East, what’s this? Is it a thundercloud? It’s not a thundercloud. Thunderclouds don’t have large beautiful brown eyes brimming with angry tears. Is it a warship? It’s not a warship. Warships don’t chew cigars and cry with rage. Is it… him? It’s him. Him is the furious leader of Europe, riding the stormy winds and flinging himself at his treacherous son, Barracuda. Barracuda, whose album of lounge covers sits at the top of every CD stack in the Union; Barracuda, who saved the economy of Isle of Mann by renaming it the Isle of Mansions; Barracuda, who was once just a simple boy playing in the cobbled streets of his native country, Esperanza, and asking the bigger children if they would like to earn a few square meals by protecting him from those who wanted to do him harm; the Barracuda whose head is the shape of every door knocker in Europe, who smiles at us from cans of delicious fizzy Barra-Cola, who reads us bedtime stories over the radio, Barracuda the leader of the European Union howls, his mouth open and ready to bite down on the son he loves and who would act so evilly and who is, at the same moment, emptying the ballpoint pen and chewing a torn half page of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Silver Fox slots the moist pellet in the empty biro, aims the peashooter at his approaching father and just as the jaws close over him, fires.
Barracuda is dead.
In the twenty-first century, anything could happen. It’s all uncertain. With one exception: the new hobby of Europe is working together to rewrite and digitise the Common Fisheries Policy.
This has been a European Videos Production.