If we have learned anything from the never-ending European crisis, it’s how much European countries dislike one another.
While many Americans may perceive Europeans as over-taxed, lazy, cultural snobs, the attitudes of many Europeans about their neighbors can be equally as harsh. And unfair.
Over the past five years there has been much name-calling and finger-pointing as the European Union, which is made up of 28 countries including Britain, sinks deeper and deeper into an economic quagmire.
The response to the crisis — or lack of — has exposed the deep cultural differences between the member states and, for many people, confirmed well-established stereotypes — many of them, not surprisingly, unfavorable — about particular countries.
It’s always helpful if you can blame someone else for your bad situation, particularly if you are a politician. Taking responsibility for a problem suggests you will fix it, and we haven’t seen much evidence of that in Europe.
“The prolonged economic crisis has created centrifugal forces that are pulling European public opinion apart, separating the French from the Germans and the Germans from everyone else,” Pew Research said in a global attitudes survey published last year.
“The southern nations of Spain, Italy and Greece are becoming ever more estranged as evidenced by their frustration with Brussels, Berlin and the perceived unfairness of the economic system.”
While seven out of the eight nations surveyed by Pew consider Germany, which has been leading the response to the crisis, as the “most trustworthy” country in Europe, it’s also perceived as being the least compassionate and most arrogant.
Greece ranked itself as the most trustworthy and Germany as the least trustworthy, which is laughable when you consider the tiny Mediterranean country’s significant role in triggering the crisis.
To better understand how Europeans perceive each other, cartoonist Aleix Salo created a hilarious animation that explains European and British stereotypes about countries in the north, south, east and west of the continent, as well as the UK.
According to Salo, Western Europe still associates Eastern Europe with its communist past. The economy is backward with decrepit infrastructure. The people are unemployed and alcoholics. Oh, and it’s cold.
Not surprisingly, Eastern Europeans have the polar-opposite view of their western neighbors, who they perceive as being over-sexed, under-worked and culturally elitist.
When Southern Europeans look north, they see over-controlling and excessively disciplined countries whose citizens behave like robots and are so bored they want to kill themselves. And they do.
The northern take on the south is pretty simple: A bunch of peasants sitting around yelling unintelligibly at each other.
When the UK looks across at Europe, it sees an over-taxed bureaucratic hell controlled by Brussels that is under the thumb of Russia.
Europeans see the UK as, well, complaining a lot as it threatens to exit the EU. And then doesn’t.
It doesn’t offer much hope for a quick resolution to the crisis.
By Allison Jackson, Global Post
This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.