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Why the British are not Europeans Dr M Spiering Figure 1 The Independent 22 June 1996 The terms Europe and European commonly refer to a geographical area to a certain culture or to one or all of the post-war institutions of European cooperation In Britain however these terms may denote yet another entity There a statement like Im going to Europe for my holi days is perfectly acceptable whereas it would be deemed illogical in for instance France or Germany Europe in this case stands for an undifferentiated abroad lying over there on the other side of the Channel In the European Union debate too politicians and the media habitually refer to the Europeans as a people totally distinct from the British The Europeans have shorter working weeks longer holidays corrupt police but a better cuisine Outside Britain this lumping together of Dutch with Germans Danes and South Tiroleans raises eyebrows In Britain how ever statements about the collective characteristics of the European but non-British race al most always go unchallenged This article seeks to index some of these presumed European characteristics and with the help of electronic databases to explore when Europe and the Euro peans first gained this special status in the British national discourse On 1 November 1990 The Suns banner headline was Up Yours Delors clearly the editorial board had been unable to resist this golden rhyming opportunity The event which sparked this off was the publication of the Delors Report which anticipated a European Union with a single currency issued by an independent European Central Bank Lady Thatchers government strongly opposed these plans A European Central Bank would undermine British sovereignty and would moreover - though this fear was not publicly expressed - deprive the government at present able to lower interest rates shortly before an election of an important means of manipulation The Sun sympathised with Lady Thatchers doubts so the paper
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