The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union by Luuk van Middelaar

By Luuk van Middelaar

As monetary turmoil in Europe preoccupies political leaders and international markets, it turns into extra very important than ever to appreciate the forces that underpin the ecu Union, carry it jointly and force it ahead. This well timed ebook offers a gripping account of the realities of strength politics between ecu states and among their leaders. Drawing on lengthy event operating behind the curtain, Luuk van Middelaar captures the dynamics and tensions shaping the ecu Union from its origins until eventually today.

it's a tale of unforeseen occasions and twists of destiny, daring imaginative and prescient and sheer necessity, instructed from the viewpoint of the keyplayers – from de Gaulle to Havel, Thatcher to Merkel. Van Middelaar cuts during the institutional complexity by way of exploring the unexpected results of decisive moments and targeting the hunt for public legitimacy.

As a first-hand witness to the daily activities and judgements of Europe’s leaders, the writer offers a shiny narrative of the crises and compromises that united a continent. via revisiting the prior, he sheds clean gentle at the current nation of eu unification and provides insights into what the long run could hold.

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Now we can turn the whole thing on its head and see politics as a battle for an ‘on behalf of ’. What matters is whether a claim to representation is accepted in reality, and by whom. There is no scientific or legal arbiter. Ultimately, the public decides. So the best way to find out whether ‘Europe’ exists as a political body is to investigate whether there are ‘natural persons’ who can plausibly claim to speak and act in Europe’s name. Whose claim to speak on behalf of Europe is recognised, and by what kind of audience?

The main goal of founders like Robert Schuman and Paul-­Henri Spaak was a radical break with power politics, a complete transformation of international relations on the continent. Above all, they were thinking of France and Germany, traditional enemies that had fought three devastating wars in the space of one human lifetime. So the concept of durable peace in Europe was wedded to efforts to curtail diplomacy. Of the thirty European states in existence at the time, six took part in the first such scheme, the Coal and Steel Community, which applied all these ideas to a small but crucial field of activity.

It was a typical compromise. The Bundesbank, the most powerful central bank of the Six, was unhappy with Brandt’s undertaking, fearing that interference from the Brussels offices would endanger its independence (the more so since the Commission’s monetary affairs portfolio had traditionally been in French hands). As a result, the European Monetary Cooperation Fund was set up in 1972 outside the Community Treaty, based on an agreement between the six central banks. One of the bankers involved recalls: This bothered the Commission and it insisted that the Fund be established by Council regulation.

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