Education in Spain: It's good to see that Spain does well in an study of qualifications in nearly 61 countries. The winners are the usual suspects - Finland, Greece, Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands but Spain is a respectable 14th., preceded by the Philippines, Australia, Israel, Iceland, Ireland, Malaysia, Switzerland and Canada. The USA is 25th and the UK a poor 31st. Notwithstanding this ranking, the study authors write that despite Spain's high level of qualifications among the working age, very few have the 'competence and experience' needed to meet labour market demands. These are hard to get, of course, when youth unemployment stands at over 50%. More on this here.
The Moribund EU 1: It's hard not to see the ineptitude displayed over the migrants problem - particularly by Mrs Merkel - as further proof of my long-standing belief that the institution would eventually collapse under the weight of its internal incongruities. Here's what one British columnist said yesterday:- [The migrants issue] is a much bigger matter than closer EU integration or the organisation of the eurozone. It amounts to nothing less than the question: does Europe want popular democracy any more? Is it prepared to trust the people – or peoples – of the Continent to govern themselves? If the answer is “yes”, there is a lot of historical baggage that will have to be accommodated – and that might be a slow, sometimes unpalatable business involving a great deal of patient argument. There are centuries-old cultural differences and generations of suspicion that will have to be overcome. If, on the other hand, the philosopher-kings of the European Commission get their way, the final answer will be “no”, and the age of mass democracy is over. European attempts to make it work seem to have ended in one species of Terror after another. But that is not the British experience. This country has its own democratic history that is unbroken and unsullied. If the answer turns out to be “no”, then surely Britain and the EU must go their separate ways. More here. The charge against Mrs Merkel is, of course, that she has peremptorily taken action that has brought these 'centuries-old cultural differences' to the surface. Ironically while trying to paint modern Germany as the saint of Europe. If it weren't so serious, you'd have to laugh.
The Failing EU 2: An eminent British historian added yesterday that:- Europeans have to choose, and choose soon, which enlargement they would prefer: one that seeks to stabilise and improve neighbouring states; or one that leaves those states to fall apart, driving their populations into desperate flight. The phrase “somewhat looser union” does not have the same lofty ring as the “ever-closer union” visualised in the Treaty of Rome. But a somewhat looser union is surely preferable to a union that blows itself apart. . . . Centripetal forces are not necessarily better than centrifugal ones. In nuclear physics, fusion and fission are both explosive. The EU is an experiment in fusion that has gone wrong. It is time to halt the experiment before the laboratory is blown up. With which view, as I say, I've long concurred.
Finally . . . A Strange Language: Sitting in the sun in a café outside West Kirby station yesterday, I struggled to make out the lingo of a woman nearby talking to a friend. And then I realised it was Scouse. I'm losing it, folks.
And now I'm heading south for the boat to Santander, letting the expense go hang, as I don't really want another 3-day drive through France. If only because it's full of French folk. Hasta mañana.