More from the European “Empire”

Posted by John Rosenthal

Apparently, the German Christian Democratic MEP Elmar Brok is not the only European politician or official who thinks that the EU is something like an empire. (See my earlier post here). The following is from a November 6 article in the Belgian daily Le Soir on the so-called European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and, more specifically, the EU’s relations with Egypt.

“We have drawn the lessons from the Roman Empire, which lived under the threat of the Barbarians,” a European source says, “This is the very idea behind the ENP: the more one provides aide, the more one helps oneself.”

Of course, the current president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has himself resorted to the “empire” metaphor – if it is a metaphor – to try to explain what the EU is. Less well known is the influence of an advocacy group like the Pan-European Union, whose former President and current honorary President, Otto von Habsburg, has long advocated “the idea of empire” – die Reichsidee – as a model for European union. Von Habsburg, the heir to the dissolved Habsburg monarchy, has even authored a book on the subject. The distinctively Germanic crown that illustrates the Amazon page for von Habsburg’s Die Reichsidee is highly appropriate. For it is not the ancient Roman Empire that Otto von Habsburg has in mind. It is rather the medieval “first German Reich”: a.k.a. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

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