Today I just met our new Sp483 EU policy class. I was a bit amazed to be honest that so many people turned up.
I ‘m intrigued people even want to study the EU these days, given that:
(a) It is so boring and complex at times
(b) Many Irish and other EU citizens blame the EU for pretty much everything, including an erosion of (perhaps notional) national sovereignty, and even indirectly our current economic woes (blaming the Euro, etc.).
Hopefully, everyone got an idea of what the course is supposed to do…although as usual it works out a bit different as we go along in terms of what crops up as the major themes and ideas.
I did mention by the way in the class, how China, or rather the Chinese governing elite, may view Europe, and that for them a centralised or even federalized EU seems rather obvious and sensible (but less so for us!). Differences between say the Irish and French seem all a bit obscure to them.
There has actually been quite a bit of academic research on this.
As a sampler, see:
Karine Lisbonne-de Vergeron for example for the semi-official British think-tank Chatham House did an interesting report Contemporary Chinese Views of Europe (available at http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/publications/papers/view/-/id/578/)
Her big and rather obvious findings are that most Chinese think Europe is rather too fragmented into puny little nation states and things would be more sensible if we just merged into one vast federal state……..eh…..okay….oh and the Euro…..they are aware of it and rate it…..which makes you wonder how much harm the current Euro crisis is causing…..and if the Euro fails…what lesson might this impart to Chinese watchers about the EU?
Of course critics of the entire EU could have a lot of fun with that observation flipped around…that the model for the EU is to become more authoritarian, centralized and pro-business just like China……..yet somehow I don’t think we’re at the stage of EU tanks trundling down O’Connell street to curb demonstrators……
A more speculative and fun view of what the Chinese government might make of the entire EU can be found at:
Of course I cannot resist wondering what the Chinese perception of Ireland may be. I would have assumed given recent events that Chinese words like ‘broke’, ‘insane’, ‘drunk’, ‘never to be trusted again’, would feature heavily.
But I was surprsied to learn then that Ireland was voted a hot tourist destination for 2011.
“Ireland has been voted “Most Popular Destination 2010” at a high profile awards ceremony in Shanghai. The annual awards, the SPECIAL TRIP: WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS, are organised by the Oriental Morning Post, a popular daily newspaper in Shanghai with about 400,000 readers.”
“In a recent survey carried out by Life Style, a leading Beijing newspaper with a circulation of about 300,000, Ireland was rated the “Destination with the Most Potential for 2011”.
Just when you think the world is weird enough, eh?
In fact this may be because Ireland is NOT part of Schengen common travel area (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area and see http://www.economist.com/node/17722582), which means Chinese tourists to Europe (and there are many now-easily over 2 m per annum) need a separate visa to visit the UK and Ireland….which is a lot of extra hassle. Many don’t bother.
So perhaps the reason they want to visit us is because they’ve never been here!
Time to join Schengen then?