A quarter century on, who has reaped the benefits of the European dream?
Du pain, du vin, du Boursin: 25 years in Europe
Wednesday 22 January 1997
The same is true for all sorts of food, clothes, toys and other products such as computers, televisions and cameras whose instruction leaflets are in French, German, Italian and Spanish as well as English. The basics of shopping may not have changed enormously from 1972 to 1997, but the experience certainly feels more European.
t Many, probably most Britons still carry the stiff-backed black passport that was standard issue 25 years ago. However, it has become increasingly common in recent years to see the smaller, flexible, maroon-coloured European- style British passport whipped out at passenger control points. The newer passport, marked European Community on its cover and first page, does not transform a Briton into a "citizen of Europe" in any legal sense. But perhaps what matters most is the psychological effect. According to those who possess one, it alters one's sense of identity - by broadening it rather than by diluting it.
t Remember the old television advertisement of about 25 years ago that went "Beanz Meanz Heinz "? Today's equivalent is surely the one that goes "Du pain, du vin, du Boursin".
Commercials have been Europeanised, to the point where a few do not even bother to make their point in English. The use of sensual French actresses, majestic Italian music and romantic German scenery sends the message that Europe is sophisticated and so its products must be, too. Subliminally, such adverts are perhaps telling us something else: that Europe is home.
t Tastes in food and drink have shifted noticeably in a European direction.Britons drink more wine, more Continental-style lager, more cappuccino, more espresso. All sorts of cheeses, sausage, cold meats and pasta are found on British plates that would not have been there 25 years ago. Cities all over the country have restaurants, bars and cafes with European names. Quite a few have been opened by business people and restaurateurs from the Continent. Even in simple places, menus are set out in French, Italian or Spanish as well as English in a way that would have been difficult to imagine in 1972.
t Perhaps the biggest change of all: Britain is physically linked to the Continent through the Channel Tunnel. Travelling to the Continent, or at least the nearest bits such as northern France, Paris and Brussels, has been revolutionised by Le Shuttle and Eurostar.
Equally important is the flow of people in the other direction - it is much easier and quicker for other Europeans to get to London and the rest of Britain. In 1972, the old joke about "Fog in Channel: Continent Cut Off" could still be told. Not now.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Budget 2015: George Osborne to axe subsidies for higher income earners in social housing
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...