3 months ago
Ever since the Treaty of Rome - the founding document of the European Union's predecessor - was signed, politicians praised the union as the world's most effective peace project, reconciling age-old enemies for the mutual good. The Germans, Brits, French, Spaniards and Italians have become a happy family in their home, the European Union.
Later - when joining the land of glass-smooth motorways and honest-looking, bespectacled bureaucrats - we also believed this illusion, as did its founders. But the rock-steady monolith has only remained just that until troubles began. Some prefer to ascribe this to the emergence of nationalist-populist parties luring voters away with their lies from the decent parties running the show.
But the illusion will only hold as long as every member state gets its perceived dues in material wealth and influence. Once that ceases to be so, the illusion begins to fray, the star-studded banner rips apart and Flemish attack Walloons in the streets adjacent to the Grande Place to the greater joy of the Muslim "Belgians".
One state will interfere in the internal affairs of the other, Finnish representatives insist on having Nokia phones, the French president is driven around in a Citroën and the Portuguese head of state drinks port.
In reality, the oft-derided and initially belittled Visegrád Group is the one that has managed to bring along true pragmatism. Putting aside their - perceived or real - differences, these four nations managed to ally themselves along common interests.
We keep getting advice on how to conduct our affairs, whereas Budapest has never interfered with the internal affairs of another member state, questioned its election results, strong-armed Sweden into introducing the euro or cuddle the banking system.
We should also note that the very same Europe couldn't even figure out the legal status of Gibraltar for over three hundred years.