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The Missing Heart of Europe The Missing Heart of Europe
Does Britain hold the key to the future of the Continent?
by Thomas Kremer. £11.99
Paperback, 254pp
This stimulating book by a truly European businessman, takes the subject beyond the political dimension and shows the great diversity of Europe. A tour-de-force full of sharp insights and original ideas, the book highlights the values, traditions and uniqueness of Britain, so dangerously taken for granted.
Reviewer Ian Milne

[eurofacts (Vol 10 No 8) – 28th January 2005]

Mr Kremer’s father served as an officer in both the Hungarian Army and the Romanian one. His son, the author of this book, was born in Transylvania before the last war and has seen more of Europe, the worst and the best, than most. He escaped from Bergen-Belsen, fled to Switzerland, emigrated to Israel, studied in France, Scotland and England. His home has been in Britain for over fifty years. He is a professional inventor who discovered and made popular Rubik’s Cube. He writes very well.

Mr Kremer, like at least half of the British population, is deeply worried about the European “project”. His book, a series of essays exploring what it is to be British, and how we differ from the French, Germans, Italians and others, is a tour-de-force of sharp insight and original ideas. There are chapters on Authority and the Individual, Doing Business, Language, Philosophy, Sense of Humour, Superpower versus Sovereignty and much else. The point about the British, he says, is that, in different senses of the word, they’re “eccentric”- tending out of, or away from, a centre. The French and Germans on the other hand are “concentric” - tending towards a centre. Theirs is the project for a federal single European state: that is what they (or their leaders, anyway) want, deeply, sincerely and genuinely. Mr Kremer notes that most British politicians can’t or won’t admit that; hence the debilitating confusion into which politics has fallen not just in Britain, but, more generally, across the whole European continent.

Mr Kremer believes that only Britain can save Europe from its federalist folly. Europe can be “reclaimed”, he says, if Britain formulates and puts into place a “new European people’s agenda”. This would include: no Constitution; no European President; no European military body; no European police force. He then calls for the “reversal of the ongoing centrally directed process of standardisation”, the “gradual (his italics) elimination of all subsidies”, the “severe curtailing of Brussels….”, the “reform of the European Parliament” and so on. As a set of long-term aspirations, few in this country outside the Labour and Lib-Dem leadership would disagree.

He rejects the idea that Britain should simply leave the EU altogether, because he believes that the EU, left to itself, would collapse in chaos, and that that would be as bad for the UK as for the Continent. He proposes that this country should play the leadership role in reforming the EU from the inside. His view is therefore broadly that of the present Conservative Party, a view which, as readers of the Letters page of eurofacts know only too well, is emphatically not shared by many erstwhile Conservatives, let alone UKIP supporters. Mr Kremer, rightly, fears the consequences of what he believes is the inevitable collapse of the present European project: political crisis, perhaps worse, on the Continent. With his vast experience of matters European, and of the UK, it is flattering to find that he believes in the ability of this country to affect matters while remaining inside the EU - even, presumably, if we sign up to the Constitution. Sooner or later, we British are going to have to make up our minds whether “reforming from inside” or “pressing the ejector button” is the better course. Whichever way the decision goes, Pitt the Younger’s famous dictum, (which Mr Kremer quotes), will once again have to operate: England has saved herself by her exertions and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example.

the june press