Yesterday (8th May) was a public holiday here in France: Victory Day, commemorating the end of WWII. Today is Europe Day, when we celebrate Robert Schuman's vision of a European Union arising out of the ruins of the Second World War. Unfortunately there didn't seem to be much celebrating here in France; nor in Italy where the train drivers chose the occasion to go on strike.
I was only made aware of the latter when we went this morning to Monaco. SNCF were very apologetic about the difficulties the strike was causing (a lot of the train services round here are cross-border so if the trains don't leave Italy it does reduces the service somewhat). But they got us to Monaco eventually and it was well worth the visit (just to breath the free air of a land where there is no income tax!)
It did though get me thinking about the forthcoming referendum in Ireland. I do find the hectoring style of the 'Yes' camp annoying - a touch too much of what did the Romans do for us about it as we are reminded over and over again about how much Ireland has gained from EU membership. As if guilt should be a good enough reason to vote yes. To be sure the people of Europe are not exactly holding their breath in anticipation of our decision next month. The French will go ahead and do whatever it is they want to do anyway (militarily as well as taxation wise), and as for the Italians - well they'll just keep on being Italians I guess. Somehow I think Victory Day will always loom larger in the French psyche than Europe Day.
So I am undecided about which way to vote in June: if I was thinking strategically I would probably vote yes; if I was thinking tactically I would probably vote no. The former is simply a recognition that much of the Lisbon Treaty is sensible 'house keeping' for a venture as big as the EU; the latter is mostly about showing La Grande Republique that La Petite Republique doesn't take too well to Gallic condescension.
I guess I've time to make up my mind yet.