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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: Growth.
It is mid-afternoon in picturesque Basel. Here’s a teacher in a bread shop. Here’s a postal worker on a bench. Here’s a military helicopter at a traffic light.
The light turns green, and the helicopter is followed down the street by cheering loudspeakers.
Ever since a Swiss building company was discovered transmitting information out of Madrid, the European Diplomatic Core has been out in force with their best negotiating cannons. A topsy-turvy time for ordinary Swiss citizens! Let’s ask the young lady in this betting shop what she thinks of the EU’s decision to improve its policy of cheerful tolerance to one of loving invasion.
Switzerland is more than just laughter in a betting shop! In the southern half of the country, the Alps twinkle in the sky. These mountains are so high that the light reflected off their peaks takes a long time to reach us. Look up at an Alp and you are looking at the past. See, there, a Roman!
This is Stéphanie DuBois, an employee at InVin, the wine distribution company which was previously headquartered in Bordeaux but has taken advantage of an EU grant in order to move to a pretty residential district of Geneva. A trying time for Stéphanie! Not only does she have to get used to a new city, new country!, but she’s trying to do her work while the building’s previous tenants are ushered out of the door. Watch out for that painting! Oh dear.
It is EU companies like InVin which are helping to develop Switzerland and bring it into the 1990s!
Now on her lunch break, Stéphanie settles into the InVin canteen. What’s that you’re eating, a fondue? You are fitting in. What’s next: Swiss lessons?
Stéphanie’s new colleagues join her at the table. They’ve been brought in from InVin offices all over the European Union and are already making friends. There’s George from the Bristol office. George is an old hand at Switzerland, a stylish man in his white linen suit.
Hmm. Does Stéphanie seem reluctant to join them? She’s built a wall out of upended food trays surrounding her meal. You won’t make friends that way, Stéphanie.
On the southern border of Switzerland, this is Monte Rosa, an Alp. Monte Rosa is the highest peak in the country! Halfway up the mountain, the air is cleaner than at the base thanks to a strange local custom. Here is a group of Swiss natives giving the air its mid-morning clean by walking up and through it. It is believed that the Swiss practise of disturbing the air is performed to remove impurities. Fascinating!
Two hundred km away, in Zürich, this is Ludovic. Ludovic is a Danish antiques seller who has lived in the city for years. His life is a happy one now but he’s had to work for it.
You see, Ludovic is no ordinary antiques seller. He’s converted this ice cream van to take his antiques around the suburbs and sell them to the children. What’s that you’ve bought, young man? A 1940s modernist armchair and matching semi-automatic rifle. Very nice!
Very nice was named for one of the founding fathers of the European Union: Jean Monnet.
But now the hunger for seizing the day that drove the younger Ludovic’s heart has dwindled. He is turning his mind to his legacy. He knows that he won’t be around forever. That’s why he’s bought this fleet of ice cream vans.
At InVin, Stéphanie’s supervisor has called her in to have a word. That word is: sociable. Stéphanie is not sociable. She builds walls against her colleagues. But InVin is a sociable office.
Don’t worry about that, it’s just the downstairs neighbours being moved.
The important matter is that Stéphanie does not believe she has to be sociable. She has spent her life putting on a mask, one which smiles -
[argument gets louder]
- One which smiles at those she does not like. She is fed up with trying to fit in. She is only here to do a job. She has a fulfilling home life with enough friends to satisfy her.
[door slam, argument stops]
But InVin has a fantastic programme of employee activities. Her supervisor encourages her to join an InVin club. She could take up wine-tasting or visit a gallery on one of the office sponsored away days.
Stéphanie doesn’t want to visit a gallery. Why should she fit in?
Stéphanie is not a team player.
A few kilometres from the summit of Monte Rosa, what’s this? Something has passed by here recently. The path is much happier. Look, there’s a goat. What a happy goat.
In Zürich, at a car park that links his always-in-fashion brown furniture warehouse with his always-in-fashion grey munitions depot, Ludovic kicks the tires, polishes the mirrors, inspects the engines and checks the chimes. What do you think, Ludovic, do these vans pass muster? If they do, he’s going to approach some of his regular customers and ask whether they want a Saturday job. Small steps but ones that will ensure the growth of Ludovic’s Mobile Antiques and Miscellany for decades to come.
That’s the sigh of a satisfied man. Happy, Ludovic? Ludovic? Ludovic. What are you looking at?
Let’s swing the camera up.
There. In the sky. No, that’s the sun, next to the sun. Yes. Like another sun, but better. What could it be?
At InVin, the building has been cleared. Listen to that glorious silence.
Stéphanie is back in the office, determined to prove that she can be sociable on her own terms. That is why she’s paid for railway tickets for every person she knows and likes to join her in Switzerland, and sit with her inside the office at her desk, or as near as they can get, as well as their partners and pets.
What a lovely aquarium.
The top floor of the building now has no room for any of the other employees. Look, there they are, trying to squeeze out of the lift. George, take off your panama hat. Does that help?
The other employees take the lift back down. Well done Stéphanie, you looked at your difficulty working with colleagues squarely in the eye and learned how to overcome it. This is called: growth.
What’s that outside of the window? Growing in the sky? Pulsing in a really lovely way.
Do you see it, Stéphanie?
At the summit of Monte Rosa, what’s this? Is it a willow tree? No! It’s not a willow tree. At high altitude, willow trees get a headache and dissolve themselves in a glass of water. Is it a pillow tree? No! It’s not a pillow tree. Pillows don’t live on trees. They live on your bed and eat your dreams. Is it… him?
Him is the shimmering leader of Europe: Barracuda! These days, Barracuda is filled with so much love that his head has completely detached from his body. It drifts around the Swiss peak, hovering a metre from the ground, occasionally stopping to inspect an interesting flower. What a delighted flower!
Barracuda’s head swells a little more with every breath. Disembodied floating heads are luminescent which is why the ground is so well lit.
Near the bottom of Monte Rosa, Barracuda’s body, which these days is two two-metre high spider legs connected at the shoulders and wearing a three piece suit, sits patiently by a mountain stream with a flagon of wine and some cheese. Look, it’s rolled up its trousers and is paddling his pointy feet in the water. Even the separated body of the leader of Europe likes to take time off!
At the highest point of Switzerland, the air is thin. The snow is silky and thick. Distant peaks stand like frozen waves.
And above it all, the glowing head of Barracuda inhales and grows larger. And again. And again. The beautiful orb hovers over the mountain, visible from the base. From a Basel traffic light. A Zurich car park. A Genevan office and further afield, like this lake where a priest is distracted while baptising someone.
Oh dear, they’ve drowned.
Barracuda sees them. Every one. He surveys this troublesome pointy country. A country which is growing in stature as it enters the twenty first century. Barracuda smiles. And the country shines.
Welcome, Switzerland. Welcome to the European Union.