Letter: Foreign but familiar

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The Independent Online
Sir: Crossing the Channel used to be an adventure ("Europe may speak English but it remains foreign", 29 January). Everything on the other side looked different, smelled, tasted, sounded different from its English versions. Different crops with different methods of husbandry, some better, some worse. Different breeds of animal. Very different food and goods, some cheaper, some pricier; shopping for presents was one long treasure hunt.

The dead hand of the European Union has ironed out national variety. In the remotest village you find exactly the same range of goods as at home; no surprises, no regional specialities or holiday loot. Worst of all, most foreigners now speak English, thereby removing the last vestige of glamour from Continental travel.

So no more Channel crossing for me until we have restored Europe's national cultures in all their rich and quirky variety. Down with harmonisation and vive la difference!