Erc, Jerry C, ProfC and many others,
First, I hope you all have a very enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration...........................
And to get you in the right mood, a short example of the type of dry humour I relish.
From yesterday's Financial Times:
"Advocates of a bigger EU budget have adapted their arguments to the circumstances. Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, claims the budget is no longer a butter mountain, or wine lake, but a 'catylyst for growth.'
To which one sceptical diplomat replied: ' Only if you're a cow'."
Good stuff ark, and we thought we Americans held the monopoly on budgeting shenigans. Corralling those 27 member states requires a true cat wrangler. Best wishes to your countryman, Mr. Cameron. But oh well, RG III has lead my Washington Redskins to a fabulous victory over the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys in what us colonialists call football, so Angela and her group aren't on the radar today - instead, I head out to Home Depot for my only Black Friday shopping event, the annual purchase of 99 cent poinsettias! Have a nice holiday season, and keep sending that European flavor our way.
Erc and others,
I trust you had a very good celebration - and a successful Black Friday.
"European flavour" - interestingly, some of the issues here are very similar to those on your side of the Atlantic. For example, size/cost of government and levels of taxation and government spending. Here the two issues comes together in one incendiary word - "Brussels": the HQ of the European Commission ( a body that is unelected, but wields great level of day-to-day power ) is seen by most of the "western" members to be too large, too expensive, too ineffective and generally self-serving. Heard those before? The problem - "eastern" members - all recent entrants, with high budget deficits, tend to think precisely the opposite.
In 2012, "austerity" and a fear of "relative economic/political"decline tends to make these issues more inflammatory. And it is far from clear that a return to conditions of stable economic growth (if this ever occurs) would lead to a return to "consensus" politics. Again, perhaps a parallel with yourselves.
The UK's position is perhaps the most complex - (not just because "I would say that, wouldn't?"). All of the historic and cultural legacy assumes a sharper, more divisive relief at a time when (a) it seems further and further away; (b) the UK itself is facing the possibility of political break-up; (c) the power of its strongest economic asset - the City - is seen to be under threat from competitors in Europe and bureaucrats in Brussels; and (d) the French, Germans, Italians and Spanish have much better soccer teams than ours! Now that is a problem than you don't have - at the moment.
None of this has much relevance to the travel issues that are, I believe, intended to be the staple diet of this site. Andy: my apologies in advance. So, in conclusion, a personal answer to two of the question that might most concern the potential visitor: No - the UK will not join the eurozone in its present form; No: UK will not break away from the EU, but the issue will continue to convulse the UK political debate for at least the next five years, Yes - London will remain one of the 5 most expensive cities in Europe - even without the Olympics.
Have a good week,