Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. In its own terms, it is a great success. France and Germany, neighbouring but utterly unalike countries, have not had another war, whereas they had had three in the preceding 80 years. The deal was simple, as the best ideas are: France would retain all of her grandeur, at which she is very good, while Germany would be the boss, at which she is likewise very good.
The level of diplomatic integration would make war actually impossible, just as the integration of their respective coal and steel industries through the ECSC would. It has worked splendidly, to the utter satisfaction of both parties. Unlike the ECSC, it has nothing directly to do with the EU. It has an impact through the conduct of the two nations' business in the EU's institutions. But no more or less than it has through their conduct in a whole host of others.
To mark this happy day, however, Toby Young (who has taken over his spot on The Sun on Sunday, by the way?) has dragged up some piece of nonsense about EU-imposed national media regulators with powers to enforce conformity to "European values". There is an odd conceit on the British New Right that this is the only country where there is any kind of debate around the EU, mostly because this is the only country where the New Right is allowed to pretend to be against it while everyone who really is and always has been is treated as if they did not exist.
But even Toby Young, one of the people against whom his father tried to warn us, must be able to see that the likelihood of this scheme's making it to the Council of Ministers and then being passed by that body is fairly remote. The whole thing is an attempt to make it look as if the almost disappointingly innocuous Leveson Report is an imposition by the EU. In reality, both that enactment, and the repatriation of powers (which can be done by primary legislation, needing neither renegotiation nor referendum), are rapidly becoming points of consensus between Labour as a whole and much of the Conservative Party.
Both could in principle be done, not least as a shining light to neighbouring and nearby states, in the present Parliament. By amending the first available Government Bills against the wishes of the Prime Minister, who has never seen an interfering foreign power that he did not like: Brussels or Washington, Tel Aviv or Murdoch. Over to the Labour front bench to propose the necessary amendments.
In any case, what are "European values"? Social Democratic opposition to, or simple bafflement at the mere concept of, enforced State secularism. Conservatives who really are conservatives; during the furore over the nonissue of where and with whom Conservative MEPs were supposed to sit, the arch-libertarian Daniel Hannan read out on television some list of supposedly barking mad utterances by prominent Gaullists and Christian Democrats, only for his own readers on Telegraph Blogs to effuse most emphatically that they heartily approved of such sentiments and longed for British politicians to articulate them. Rooms-Rood-ery.
Together with the recognition that real agriculture is the mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare (leading to safe, healthy and inexpensive food) as against "factory farming", and that it is a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the "free" market. Farm subsidies, which this country had for 30 years before going into what was really always the EU, are a thoroughly excellent idea. Provided that we run them ourselves, and provided that we establish and enforce the principle that no one should own land other than in order to make use of it.
But the Johnny-come-latelies who have colonised the cause of opposition to the EU want to abolish them completely. An important reason why there is no hope from the Conservative Party, which only the farmers really own, with everyone else as guests, often very high-paying guests in more ways than one. If the farmers think that withdrawal from the EU would mean the end of farm subsidies, then they will block it through the Tory machine forever. Of course, it need not necessarily mean any such thing. On the contrary, it can only be brought about by a renewed British commitment to the independent embodiment of European values.