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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: Energy.

This is an oven. The dial is set to one hundred and eighty degrees. There is a tray of vegetables on the top shelf and a tray of shoes on the bottom, there to purge the devil. The oven creates heat to soften the vegetables and light to incinerate Satan. A common sight everywhere from Helsinki to Malaga (everywhere apart of course from Turin which at the last census was majority Satanist). But what powers the heat and light?


Energy is how the European Union gets things done. It’s your morning cappuccino. It’s a dressing down from your parents. It’s a toothy grin from your bus driver. Without Energy, much more than ovens would stop working. Energy powers industrial washer-dryers, meat freezers, lorry drivers’ lorries, masons’ hammers, carpenters’ saws, dentists’ x-rays, musicians’ synthesizers, the council repainting the road, the council annexing Geneva, bicycles, cars, boats, trains, trams, supertrams, megatrams, hypertrams, hypnotrams, power stations and wolves.

The European Union was founded in 1951 as the European Coal and Steel Community. Today, we rely on coal more than ever.

Here is a river in Oxfordshire. It looks like any other European waterway, overflowing with water, and fish! Too much fish. Far too much fish! What a dangerous river. This is Colin MacOnion. He is a fisherman. Let’s get to know him. Colin is forty six, twice divorced, and believes that if he’d been born with the right opportunities he would have made a good spy or cowboy. But. Colin MacOnion the fisherman is not a fish fisherman. Oh no. Colin the fisherman is fishing for something far more valuable to the European Union, it’s C-O-A-L: coal. The original Black Beauty. How’s he doing? He’s frowning. He’s harrumphing. He’s wearing a baseball cap. Oh dear. Don’t worry, Mr MacOnion, I’m sure there will be a gap in all those fish soon so that you can get at some good freshwater coal.

Freshwater coal cannot live in the sea, it goes there to die. Dead coal is not useful to the Union. Colin MacOnion, you’re a hero.

It is the aim of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Good Lighting to increase coal and steel production by 30% by the year 2000. But what of other sources of Energy? Is there a world beyond coal or is that so much Jules Vernery? What about nuclear and Becky? Here’s the nuclear. Here’s Becky. Warm enough, Becky? Good. What about renewables? Can we rely on them? Well no, not to look after your sandwhich! But perhaps we can for a little more Energy.

This is a lighting shop in Ghent. A bright building! Far too bright. And with such a variety of lamps. Art nouveau. Art deco. Floral patterns. Geometric. Here are some lamps made in the eighteen eighties. Here are some made in the nineteen twenties. And here’s a special section for newly made lamps in a turn of the century style. It really is far too bright. The shop is so bright it is impossible to visit or even walk past, and every other business on the street has failed. But what powers it? Or who? Or whom?

It’s: who.

And it’s: her.

Her is Francesca Palazzi. Mrs Palazzi is fifty nine, likes modernist art, and on weekends drives a vintage Citroen up and down her street. She used to be a professional long-distance cyclist. Here at a generator near Brussels, she puts her old job to good use. Yes of course, Mrs Palazzi goes through all the rigmarole of an employee of the European Union: signing paperwork, reading memos, attending meetings, siesta, Christmas parties, whip-rounds, whippings, bring your child to work and swap it, and so on. But she doesn’t do all that from a desk, she does it from this bicycle which is connected to this generator, which is connected to many many lamp shops. The everyday lights can go out and plunge us into darkness but lamp shops across the Union will shine on: too bright to reach? Maybe. A comforting sight in the inky distance? Certainly.

Let’s check in on Mr MacOnion. Any coal? Hmm, that fishing scuttle looks empty to me. And you’ve put on a second baseball cap over the first. Grim.

The European Commission is terrified that we may one day run out of coal and long-distance cyclists and has prepared a number of backup options.

County Kerry, named after one of the founding father of the European Union: Jean Monnet, is just such an option. You might have visited County Kerry, you probably know somebody who has! It’s no stranger to tourists. They come from all over the union to admire the landscape. I went to County Kerry after my first child was born and I needed a really good think. But if you’re thinking of visiting, be ready for strong winds! County Kerry is famous for them. You’ll have read about it in the brochure… if you manage to hold on to it.

Here is some wind. Here is some more wind. Here is a pig falling over. And here is a wind… farm. By harnessing wind, we may one day decrease our reliance on coal. In this wind farm north of Killarney, Catriona the wind farmer is rounding up her flock of winds and a few baby gusts for the night and putting them back in their paddock, with a little help from Max. Good boy Max!

Back in Oxfordshire, what’s that coming down the river? More fish? It’s definitely a shoal. A shoal of coal. Get those nets ready, Colin! Although industrial coal fisheries exist on some of the larger freshwater bodies in the Union, for instance this one on Lake Geneva where the ugly Swiss flag is being painted over in beautiful bright blellow, individuals like Colin can make a good living coal fishing if they’re willing to be patient and cross their fingers.

Crossing fingers has brought luck since 1982 after a knife-edge vote by MEPs.

In the twenty first century, the European Union will want your help in supplying energy. What do you think of this device? It’s a one-person energy creator. For now only a prototype but one day mass produced. Simply slip it into your shoe and forget about it as you do your bit to power the union. So how does it work?

Here is a Citizen of the Future wearing battle-scarred denim and a MegaWalkman with has slots for both tapes and CDs. She heads down a normal street. What happens? Nothing. Here she is again, walking through a forest. But now her foot’s buzzing. Buzz buzz. What does it mean? It means she’s near some coal. Oh look, there it is, fighting a rabbit.

That’s all so much HG Wellacy... for now. Today we are dependent on Colin and his nets. Be careful though, Colin, the Common Fisheries Policy dictates that only fish fishermen maybe fish for fish. If Colin the coal fisherman catches anything but coal they’ll confiscate both his fishing licence and his uncle. So what have you got, Colin? Well done. A lovely big pile of coal and absolutely no fish. Oh no, there is something else? That could be serious. Sneeze. Oh dear, he’s caught: a cold. Time to head home and light the radiator.

Have you seen the European Union’s to-do list for the next five years? Probably not: it is classified. But we’re going to need a lot of Energy. And it looks like we’ll do just fine. Bing! Oh! There goes the oven. Eat your vegetables and put your shoes on.

This has been a European Videos Production.

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