June 14, 2016
A GUIDE FOR LIFE INSIDE THE EUROPEAN UNION
On a bookshelf in what purports to be my office lurks an early edition of this invaluable guide. It is still there because even earlier in my career as a young economist I had reason to visit the Company Secretary of a large British firm. His desk was exceptionally clear apart from one book: Teach Yourself to be a Company Secretary. I commented on this and received the response, “I just started last month and am still learning the ropes”. 25 years later when posted to Brussels I bought a copy of Dick Leonard’s now classic Guide to the European Union. This is the best single source book whether one be a stagiaire about to start a career in European public affairs, a leader of an NGO, a trade unionist or have any other reason to need to become familiar with how the European Union operates.
This latest edition published in 2016 brings the reader bang up-to-date with chapters on Enlargement, The UK: In or Out and The Future. As is traditional the book starts with clear and concise descriptions of the origins, the evolutions and the major treaties that have shaped many aspects of the lives of millions of European citizens not to mention millions more who have economic and or social relations with, aspire to or need the protection of one or more competencies of the EU.
Both authors go beyond explaining the essential legal bases of the EU, they describe elegantly the evolution of the political negotiations involved under headings such as ‘Hallstein versus de Gaulle’ and ‘I want my money back’ – guess who? More recently ‘Building a firewall’ to cope with the series of bail-outs for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. ‘Solidarity: a fragile flower’ describes the current migrant crisis.
Bob Taylor deserves recognition for the substantial revisions made to cover the period since 2010. The Routledge Guide has a comprehensive coverage of 23 legal competences as well as plenty of statistical tables and appendices. I highly recommend this new edition of a trusted and reliable compendium.Julian Oliver