I ve always been impressed by the Oxford Very Short Introduction series and this is no exception This book provides a succinct and fairly clear outline of the history and structure of the European Union in just under 200 pages, which is all I wanted.I was curious though, because despite all the snoozes occasioned by European Directives and eurocrats, the European Union is engaged in the most radical restructuring of the nation state in human history, and this book did nothing to dissuade me from that belief Part of the problem is that the Union itself tries to hide its creeping power under intentionally obfuscating names, acronyms, and policies For instance, under the Single Europe Act of 1987 the European Council of Ministers not to be confused with the European Council or the Council of Europe uses Qualified Majority Voting QMV for certain trade related legislation There are only 27 members states but there are 345 weighted votes somewhat dependent on population measures though each foreign minister only votes for his country once , of which 258 votes are needed to pass a bill These votes, however, must also contain 62% of all European Union population and at least a majority of countries voting This legislation, depending on its subject, then has to be approved either through co decision or cooperation with the European Parliament, which has been directly elected by European voters since 1979 Clearly this is all meant not just to confuse but to confound any average citizen trying to understand what the hell is happening in Brussels, but the upshot is amazing It means that for over 20 years European countries have given over significant aspects of their sovereignty to a multi national parliament over which they have only partial control This is truly a United States of Europe in vitro, just as Victor Hugo and Winston Churchill had hoped.So this book finally cleared away some of those mental cobwebs that had confused me for so long about what this thing actually did and how it did it Admittedly, it was written before the ratification of the Lisbon Reform treaty, but it contains an overview of those proposed changes that have since been implemented I highly recommend it. European Union is one of the most ambitious and expansive political projects in history Its ultimate goal, it is now quite clear, is the unification of almost all of Europe into a single political entity The project has grown from its rather modest origins from a purely economic organization into what is now one of the most important political and economic unions in the World However, both the path to this point and the future ahead are beset by numerous challenges I ve been eying this short introduction for a long time As someone who is originally from Europe and who still has the majority of the family members living there, I cannot really afford to be ignorant of the events on that continent and its political structure However, I am now glad that I ve waited to purchase this book in its third edition, since it now includes mentioning of Croatia Since I am now officially an EU citizen, I have evenreasons to try to understand it the best I can After reading this book I certainly have muchappreciation for all the intricacies of the EU s political mechanisms This is a very detailed book with a lot of information and facts strewn throughout its slim 150 pages It takes a largely chronological approach to the Europe s integration, and goes into some detail in explaining various policy decisions The book assumes a fairly neutral point of view, aiming to inform the reader rather than to shape his or her opinions The third edition is thoroughly updated and includes all the major developments up to 2013 However, as witnessed by the tumultuousness of the ongoing economic crisis, all of the European institutions are still in the state of flux, and it is very likely that the fourth edition of this book will be in order before too long Even though the book is well written and extremely informative, it is still a pretty dry read Various policies, political and economic maneuvers can feel rather esoteric, technical and opaque The book s view of EU is highly institutional, without much scope for deeper ideas or relevance to the daily lives of most Europeans This is probably the reflection of how most Eurocrats view their project as an ongoing bureaucratic venture that is almost an end in itself There might be many virtues to this attitude, but it sure doesn t manage to inspire. Over The Past Few Decades, The European Union Has Seen Many Great Changes Negotiations For The Accession Of Six New States Have Begun, And Membership, Which Already Covers Almost All Of Western Europe, Will Soon Extend To Most Of Central And Eastern Europe The Union S Institutions Have Been Reformed, And Its Powers May Soon Reach Beyond The Economy And The Environment Into The Fields Of Foreign Policy And Defense This Thorough Yet Succinct Introduction Has Been Completely Updated To Take The Many Recent Developments Into Account John Pinder Provides A Detailed And Coherent View Of The Evolution Of The European Union, And Investigates Its Future As Europe Thrives In The New Millennium The European Union A Very Short Introduction Very Short Introductions 36 , John PinderOver the past few decades, the European Union has seen many great changes Negotiations for the accession of six new states have begun, and membership, which already covers almost all of Western Europe, will soon extend to most of Central and Eastern Europe The Union s institutions have been reformed, and its powers may soon reach beyond the economy and the environment into the fields of foreign policy and defense This thorough yet succinct introduction has been completely updated to take the many recent developments into account John Pinder provides a detailed and coherent view of the evolution of the European Union, and investigates its future as Europe thrives in the new millennium. I am a bit fan of Oxford University Press very Short Introduction series, even if they are a bit hit or miss with the vast majority being hit It makes sense that the European Union would be the subject of one of the VSI booklets John Pinder wrote the first edition, while later editions have been co written with Simon Usherwood The third edition was published in 2013 and is fully revised to include the Lisbon Treaty It gives concise overviews of the history, key institutions, main policy areas, and enlargement process of the European Union The tone is relatively neutral, except for the very Europhile conclusion It is also too much geared towards a British rather than European or world audience.Overall, the book is well written, but it does require quite some previous knowledge about European history, politics and societies Even I found it at times a bit too demanding, despite being a European political science professor specialized in European politics I used it in a summer course on the European Union at a US university, thinking the students would appreciate a short and fairly general introduction, rather than the often over detailed and technical regular textbooks Instead, they felt overwhelmed by all the information and often confused about the exact meaning of everything. . 2013 edition.A bizarre little book that spends too much time trying to convince the reader that European Federalism is the inevitable future and that intergovernmentalism is a weakness It overtly advocates further integration, abandoning unanimous voting to expedite legislation so nations can be overruled , Europe as a superstate of soft power , and both geographical and policy expansion The entirety of the argument appears to rest on the idea that Europe, as compared to individual nations, is treated on par with the United States.I think its lack of objectivity makes it unsuitable as a brief introductory work It might appeal to someone in search of partisan reading. Chapter 1 What the EU is forChapter 2 How the EU was madeChapter 3 How the EU is governedChapter 4 Single market, single currencyChapter 5 Agriculture, regions, budget conflicts over who gets whatChapter 6 Social policy, environmental policyChapter 7 An area of freedom, security and justice Chapter 8 A great civilian power andor less Chapter 9 The EU and the rest of EuropeChapter 10 The EU in the worldChapter 11 Much accomplished but what next Thoughts soon. I read the 2018 edition of the book, and overall, I found it very informative about the EU how it started, through its evolution, and the EU s goals and impact today We also get sone analysis about the relationship of the US to the EU But, we also get a helpful view into Brexit, and some of the very real dangers ahead for the EU questions about its survival.
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- 224 pages
- The European Union: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
- John Pinder
- 10 January 2019 John Pinder