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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: Foreign Policy.
This is Alf. Alf works in a supermarket in … where? Is it Greece? It’s not Greece. Is it Northern Greece? It’s not Northern Greece. Is it Thessaloniki, the largest Niki in Northern Greece? It’s not Thessaloniki, the largest Niki in Northern Greece. It’s not any Niki in Northern Greece. It’s a Niki in: somewhere else.
No! Not outside Europe. Strange as it may seem, not everywhere in Europe is a part of the European Union. That’s a difficult concept. I’ll say it again: not everywhere in Europe is a part of the European Union. So where does Alf work? Alf works in: Norway. That’s a country. This supermarket is in a quiet suburb of Trondheim, which is a Niki in Norway. Again, Norway is a country.
Where is Alf? Norway.
What is Norway? Norway is a country.
Is Norway a country in Europe? Yes, Norway is a country in Europe.
Is Norway a country in the European Union? No, Norway is not a country in the European Union.
Is Norway a synonym for “Northern Greece”? No, Norway has nothing to do with Greece. Why do you keep bringing up Greece?
Back to Alf, who works at the supermarket dolmades counter. What do you think about living and working in Norway, Alf? Hmm, he’s not happy. I wonder why. Let’s find out by going across the sea on the back of this albatross to: here:
Always thank your albatross. Thank you! So, where are we? We’re: here! What is here? Here is another country. Here is inside Europe but outside the Union. Inside Europe, outside the Union. Here is called: Iceland, named after Ingólfr Iceland. In a supermarket in Kópavogur, Freyja has just come on shift. She’s the general manager, she must be happy! Oh no, Freyja is wearing a baseball cap. What’s wrong, Freyja?
That wasn’t a real question. You’ve probably guessed, the clues are there. They both work in supermarkets. They’re both citizens of Europe but not the European Union. They both wear golden death masks over their faces. Freyja and Alf are married! But spending time with your spouse isn’t easy with albatross fares so high.
How did they even meet? Was it halfway across the sea? No. They met where all supermarket couples meet: an opera convention in Salzburg.
So how does the European Union relate to these strange and worrying countries? And is that going to change? And would those changes loosen our tightly run Union? And could we tighten it again with some metaphorical rope? And if we ran out of rope, could we use, for instance, a snake, one that you don’t need to tie into a knot like a boa constrictor? To answer these questions, let’s go to a jungle.
In this instance, “jungle” means “submarine”. The top of the submarine has been disguised to look like an island. And what do you get on an island? A jungle. The European Jungle Submarine Island is one of a fleet of disguised ships which ensure more peace, more coal, and more steel to the Union by patrolling our waters. At the time of filming, this jungle was moored just north of Bremen. When you’re watching: who knows? It could be in Spain, or Scotland, or just outside your front door.
Go on. Have a look.
I can wait. Press pause and have a look to see if there is a submarine disguised as an island with a jungle on top outside your front door.
Maybe it’s ringing the bell.
Maybe it can’t ring the bell and you should ring the bell for it.
Here’s another country. Inside Europe, outside the Union. Say it with me: Inside Europe, outside the Union. You’re getting the hang of this! This country is called Liechtenstein, named after Ingólfr Liechtenstein.
In a supermarket in Eastern Schaan, Noemi is packing shelves. She doesn’t look happy either. No wonder. Noemi is the daughter of Alf and Freyja; she was conceived at an opera convention for supermarket employees in Salzburg. But there are no albatrosses from Liechtenstein to Norway nor from Liechtenstein to Iceland. She has to make do with imagining her parents.
The five year old finishes restocking the high quality sparkling water in the Finnish foods aisle and takes up her position at the metals counter. Noemi, while you’re there, I’d like to demonstrate something: please can we have some steel? No? No. Of course not, we’re outside the European Union. There is no steel. Go on then, any metallic alloy is fine. Brass? Great. Why not. I’ll go make a pocket watch.
In the very depths of the jungle on top of the island on top of the submarine, someone is approaching. Is it this man? No, it’s not this man. This man is an explorer who is long dead. Is it this woman? No, it’s not this woman. This woman is a statue of a woman who is long dead. Is it… him? It’s him! Him is the adventurous jungle boss of Europe: Barracuda.
How does he do it? How does Barracuda wade through a jungle in a cream linen suit and panama hat without getting stained or eaten? Why do the panthers and creepers retreat when he arrives? Look: it is as if a tunnel is forming for him to walk through. Such wide shoulders for such thin legs!
Barracuda stops to light a cigar, then carries on his journey.
What do Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein have in common? They’re in Europe but not in the European Union. But they are in something like the European Union. It’s called: EFTA.
EFTA. E. F. T. A. The European Free Trade Something or Other. EFTA. Home of countries who think they’ve got a system. EFTA. Like if you described the European Union to someone but neither of you were very interested.
In the European Union, we can cross land borders freely. Like this one from France into Paris. In EFTA they technically can too. They can cross the land border from Norway to Iceland. Or the land border from Iceland to Liechtenstein. Uh oh. Do you see the problem? There are no land borders from Norway to Iceland. Nor from Iceland to Liechtenstein. And the land border from Liechtenstein to Norway is too narrow for a person. That, and the prohibitive cost of albatrosses, is why Alf, Freyja, and little Noemi can only see each other once a year during the Salzburg opera convention for supermarket employees.
Barracuda has come to this Submarine Island to discuss the EFTA situation with the European Union’s Spokesman for Foreign Affairs: it’s Barracuda’s youngest and best child, Silver Fox! Silver Fox wears his favourite spotty dungarees to wait for his dad while he finishes off his homework: colouring in a map of the conquests of Alexander the Great. The creative young man has chosen to show how he would have done it.
Silver Fox has been waiting a week in his official bivouac at the head of a long table, kept company by sixteen leopards wearing macintoshes and hats, and a rhinoceros dressed like Jean Monnet. Jean Monnet was named after one of the founding fathers of the European Union: Jean Monnet. Ah! Silver Fox’ father has arrived, the leopards are dismissed, and dinner is served by a bold hippopotamus.
Back in Norway, how does Alf feel? Does he still have faith that EFTA will solve his problems? No. Alf is all out of faith, that’s how he feels. Alf, put some clothes on for pity’s sake. See what you’ve done, EFTA? Broken families equals sad trading partners, and sad trading partners equals bad business. You can’t find a win-win outcome with someone more interested in saving their child than savouring your champagne. The solution is back in the jungle on the island on the submarine, the solution is Barracuda. It’s always Barracuda!
Oh dear, what’s going on? Trouble in the family? Barracuda and Silver Fox are arguing! Oh no, oh dear, oh dear me no, please, stop! What are they arguing about?
There’s one more member of EFTA we need to mention. It’s: Switzerland. Remember them? Silver Fox is at school in Geneva, home of the world’s highest education standards, prettiest classrooms and best stocked school vending machines. Here’s a young woman slotting in her two Swiss francs to buy: a baby goat! But it wouldn’t look good for the leader of Europe’s favourite son to be studying outside the Union! That’s why the European Union has conquered Geneva.
Now that part of Switzerland has entered the Union, Barracuda reasons that the rest of Switzerland should join it. Seems reasonable to you! He foresees a twenty-first century of many more member states brought in through the body which we try not to call the European Army so let’s just say ‘Diplomatic Core’.
But Silver Fox objects! He likes Switzerland! The child thinks that seven presidents is a fine way to run a country and that everyone should follow the Swiss example and do things just because they seem interesting.
It’s awful to see Europe’s favourite family at odds. Let’s give them some privacy.
Back in Trondheim: what do you think Alf? Is EFTA ready for one of its members to go to war with the European Union? How will Norway respond?
Alf has thrown a box of tortellini on the floor. He uses the pasta to create a picture of his daughter. Hmm, doesn’t look like her to me. The memory of her face has faded. Come on Alf, up you get. Let’s go to a cafe and have a nice cup of hot brass.
Just think, five years from now we could be looking at an expanded union of nineteen member states! What will we do with them all? Maybe we can persuade that opera convention to open its doors to people who don’t work in supermarkets. We can do anything we like if we believe in it!
Why not book your tickets, now? I’ll see you in the twenty-first century for a glass of sparkling Austrian steel while a cartoonist draws us dressed like Mozart and Bizet.
This has been a European Videos Production.