Originally posted by Rank outsider
I just can't see such disparate cultures and economies ever being able to agree to allow other countries to run their affairs in the way this demands.
The economies are disparate, but the cultures are not - not especially. From Dublin to Tallinn, from the Algarve to the Bosphorus, most people think, in the broadest possible sense, along similar lines about most substantive issues.
I don't mean of course that everyone has the same opinions. But there is a basic continental consensus about, say, the role of the state, the role of religion in society, the relation of the state to its citizens, the definition of individual freedom, which differs from the consensus reached in other regions. Europe is basically secular, social democratic, liberal and pragmatic; the politics of the left and right revolves around these basic poles.
In my opinion, the key function of the EU is and ought to be to provide a way of expressing that continental identity, and to put into practice the logical corollary that, since we share (in the broadest sense) these values, we ought to have institutions that express and defend them, and we ought to adopt, as far as possible, a common posture on the world stage. That is what the EU ought to be for. It would be a tragedy if a trivial matter like the failure of the single currency were to impede that project.