The past is not another country, it is another world.
Remember all that strutting triumphalism of the EU enthusiasts? Remember their blustering certitude and stainless steel non-stick bravura? The European Union was unstoppable, invincible and the wave of the future. It was an historically-inevitable behemoth gearing up to straddle the globe and lock all of mankind into its eternal Bonapartist embrace.
Soon there would not be so much as a single molecule on the face of the earth that would not be regulated by Brussels. Resistance was futile and dissent was pointless. It was written in stone. The European union will conquer the known universe!
That was then.
This is now:
There is no doubt that 2004 ought to have been a great year, the year East Europeans became full members of a revived, streamlined and more democratised European Union. Instead, Europe is in its worst shape for years.
There is only so much battering, criticism and friendlessness any institution can take before it breaks. Europe is no different.
Victory is within sight. Just one, big, final push and we can send the whole rotten edifice crashing down.
[My thanks to Peter Briffa for the link.]