Eurosceptics will tell you that there are millions of Europeans who spend every waking moment cursing the EU. It’s not true. They don’t praise it either, but instead just don’t really notice it. However, in times like this, it hovers into view, and it ain’t a pretty sight, and it is in times like this that it triggers that most basic of human urges: to run away. Since the beginning of time, when the first caveman with a problem wandered over the hill into the next guy’s valley, the reaction has been: “I have my own problems. Go away and sort your own out.” It’s that gut instinct, in the bellies of German and Finnish and Dutch voters, that they have enough problems making ends meet without Greeks wrecking the place. Let the Greeks just go away and be Greek on their own time and stop bothering us, we have to get the kids to school.
That’s the challenge there, and the euro exacerbates it, because so many Europeans think that if we didn’t have the euro we would not have these problems. They are right, to a degree. By having a common currency we have bound ourselves togther, warts and all. But even if we didn’t have a euro, given the amounts of money involved with French and German banks, we’d still be baling out each other. Having a European country go belly up with hundreds of billions of debt is not a euro problem, but a problem of the complex international finance system we have created to fund the consumer lifestyles we want.
The easy answer, turning our backs on European integration and retreating back behind our national borders, away from the crazy foreigners, will feel good. But it won’t solve our problems, because Europe is not the cause of our problems. Modern life is.