That’s what I mean, “Britain, [then] responsible for brokering a compromise.” Britain has been at the forefront of fixing the EU to be flexible enough to accommodate the great diversity that is Europe from the start. The harmonizing drive led by Germany, France and in no small part Belgium (which shares a capital with the EU in Brussels shares a culture of denial over Belgian unity as much as over European unity) is slightly obsessive and is the default momentum of the union. The EU needs countries more remote from this drive to keep watching interests and differences that the drive would steamroll over. The crisis in the Eurozone is example enough that rushing towards integration is in nobody’s ultimate interest.
Some continental Europeans may paint the British in the EU as intransigent but this is not the only perception. Many in Europe profoundly agree with British scepticism and wish to change the union. For them the role of Britain is a vital one.
The union is perhaps the most important political achievement by Europe ever. It has been instrumental in maintaining peace on a continent where war was default. Default now is negotiations and compromise. We need to keep it a place where we negotiate out of our own national self-interests in order to find compromises we can all live with, rather than become an ever more exclusive zone where members are pushed out of when they don’t want to compromise or no longer meet perhaps too strenuous criteria.
Let’s reign in the ambition and keep this union lean, healthy meaning representative of us all.