With elections to the EU parliament drawing closer, expect to see the Verdun card being played to the max. The Verdun card? A grim warning that Europe will return to the warring ways of its bad old past if the process of building a superstate is stopped.
Here is a recent classic, quoted in La Libre Belgique, from Joseph Daul, the Frenchman who currently heads up the European Peoples Party, the main center-right bloc in the parliament.
“I am convinced,” he intoned, “that if Europe succumbs to the siren voices of populists and euroskeptics, there will be a turning back towards chaos and war.”
A firm believer in “ever closer union”, the principle, enshrined in the EU treaty, that drives the process of integration relentlessly forward, Daul warned that stopping this forward march would be a step back, and so would the creation of a ‘Europe of varying speeds’ (the idea that different countries—or groups of countries—could choose to go at their own pace towards closer integration). Such had been the approach, he claimed, adopted by the Great Powers that had led to catastrophe in 1914.
And no, the link to 1914 (so fashionable in its centenary year!) that Daul is trying to establish makes no logical sense at all, but, politically, he probably hoped that it could convey just enough extra menace to scare a few more gullible peons back into the federalist camp.
But the thought that Daul might actually believe this nonsense, now that is truly scary.