I am reading David Nicholas, The Northern Lands – Germanic Europe, c. 1270-c. 1500 (2009). He writes about England, the Low Countries, Germany and Scandinavia.

England – in Nicholas’ view because it is smaller – gets an effective central state administration early. Apart from the capital, none of its towns is of economic importance. A single institution – Parliament – evolves early as a means for the nobles to manifest themselves relative to the Crown. Government is a negotiation between institutions at the same geographical level.

In the other realms – except Denmark at times – central government is weaker. In Flanders and the Baltic (the Hanse – which is how I got into this topic) towns are powerful. In the Empire, princes of medium and small territories are more powerful than the King. Government is a negotiation between small and big places that are not less or more important because of their size.

Do we Brits experience the EU differently because of this?

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Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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