qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Van Gend en Loos, and other stories

Book Review: The Passage to Europe - How a Continent Became a Union, by Luuk van Middelaar
I picked this up in the work book sale before Christmas.

The Prologue is a bit turgid and, for me, borders on what Michael Shermer refers to as woo-woo nonsense, but fortunately, once past that, the remainder of the book is a fairly straightforward history of the European project since 1950. It's interesting to read how, from the start, the member states were limited in their ability to agree with one another, and how, in the early years, France was a particularly awkward player (for which de Gaulle was somewhat punished electorally). The author argues that the member states probably didn't intend to give the European Court as much power as it asserted in the case of Van Gend en Loos. The British remained aloof in 1950, but were later welcomed by everyone except the French. Thatcher broke the etiquette on budgets, but was more accommodating of the project than many would like to believe.

The book identifies a fundamental problem: it's difficult to see "Europe" being popular as it is in the nature of the member states that any good news will be presented as their own, and bad news will be blamed on Brussels. It seems to me that Britain is particularly trapped in this as in other areas by the right wing press. The EU is far from perfect, but so are the member states.
Tags: books, europe, history, politics
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