[A]lthough Brexit dominates our politics our knowledge of European polities is near-zero, and certainly not strong enough to form obvious reference points. It’s not just the right that is guilty here. So are leftists. Whenever free marketeers propose reforming the NHS, they immediately invoke images of dystopian American healthcare rather than, say, the Swiss or German systems.
Our ignorance of Europe takes countless very sensible questions off the agenda such as: why is the Finnish education system so good? What can Norway’s experience tell us about the case for a sovereign wealth fund? Why do the Netherlands and Germany have such low youth unemployment? How might we improve vocational education or support SMEs? How best can we design a welfare state that minimizes poverty without greatly diminishing work incentives? And so on.
[O]nly a broad regional political settlement involving all of the powers conducting proxy wars on the territory of Syria will end this bloody civil war. Given the regional complexities and vested interests at stake, it will be difficult for Russia and the US to forge a deal bilaterally. A united Europe, speaking with one voice, could play an important role in steering a path to peace.
Not only does Europe have an overriding interest in securing its immediate neighbourhood, it has recent experience of helping to deliver a nuclear deal with Iran. The Iran nuclear deal showed what the European Union can achieve when it works together with one voice and engages other global powers.