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First in Europe?

As Britain takes over the presidency of the EU, its prospects in Europe look rosier than for 25 years. But, argues Timothy Garton Ash, the prospects for Europe itself are less encouraging. While one part of the continent wrestles with a single currency the other has unfinished business from the last century

You have to pinch yourself. Instead of Britain as eternal curmudgeon of the European Union, here is Britain acknowledged-even in France-as a constructive partner in leadership. Instead of reading about the British disease and the German model, we read about the British model and the German disease. And we read this not in Britain but in Germany. Britain leads the debate on subjects like “employability” and welfare reform. British diplomats in Bonn and Paris report an extraordinary change of atmosphere. “People return your calls,” says one, indicating how low we had sunk before. Continental media coverage of Britain has changed…

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