In this discussion thread many British World of Warcraft players want to be able to migrate their characters to US servers after Blizzard has effectively turned "English" servers into international ones where it’s OK to chat in any language. This translates into some servers being dominated by, say, Spaniards or Russians who seem to flood the general channels, insult English speakers or kick them out of groups. Not a nice customer experience and maybe Blizzard should be a little more proactive on this.
This is an interesting, real-world example of what’s wrong with ever-closer union within the EU and why I voted No to the European constitutional treaty (in the recent French referendum). Talk about putting the cart before the horse. By the way I voted from the French consulate in Lisbon since I’ve been living in Portugal for the last two years. My 4 1/2-year daughter is bilingual (well, she’s making progress in English too so she’ll be trilingual by age 6). Besides my native France I also lived in Germany and Italy in the past, and that leaves out tourism and business trips to England, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Russia.
Suffice it to say that people who assimilate the No vote with a protectionist, backwards, semi-illiterate knee-jerk reaction to history in the making, are poking their eye with a tree. Count me among those who simply want a Europe that works, because they actually know first-hand its shortcomings instead of just philosophizing about it in their native country which they hardly ever leave.
It’s true I voted No for reasons exactly opposite to most French voters, who found the tentative constitution too liberal. At 190+ pages, it’s sadly laughable to claim it’s liberal at all, to my libertarian despair. But we are many in Europe who don’t want more regulatory and freedom-constraining overhead from the Union, but expect the exact opposite from it. There’s the potential out there if the Brits and countries from Central Europe can shake up the French and German Axis of Socialism. That Tony Blair can be credibly pictured as a torchbearer for more freedom and less government tells you how bad it is.
I’ll consider further political integration within Europe when the promises made decades ago are fulfilled (wait, I’ll have moved to the US way before that happens). As things currently go, to give just one example, it’s hellish paperwork to get Portuguese car plates (necessary to obtain permanent local insurance) for a vehicle brought from another EU country, in blatant disregard to the basic freedom to move your goods around that’s at the core of the whole EU deal. Thousands of expats like me, in Portugal and elsewhere, keep their original plates and lie to insurers in their home country to avoid the hassle and cost.
Americans who are probably puzzled by the whole thing need to understand one simple thing: the EU is made of nation states with different cultures and languages, and no matter what you do, and whether you’re welcome or not (you often are), you’re still a foreigner when your relocate to another country, living in a weird state of semi-vacuum, in turns liberating and aggravating.
At the end of the day European federalists are delusional. The European Union is a technical construct that has no emotional or cultural appeal, and that delivers few tangible and visible benefits to most of "its" citizens. I’m convinced the power of nation states is waning, but even more centralization is definitely not the answer! Even the USA, a federation assembled under a strong, time tested constitution, whose citizens have a natural distrust of the federal government, is increasingly trampling on state rights. It’s hard to see how the EU is not going to turn into USSR-lite, minus gulags but with precious few economic opportunities and limited freedom of speech (effectively France but bigger). The lip service paid to subsidiarity in this weak, overlong treaty was far from enough of a safeguard against bureaucratic overreach. Even if for mixed, sometimes very bad reasons, it’s a very good thing that it’s now dead after the French and Dutch votes.