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Willem Noe "scorpio-1" (Berlin)

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European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?
European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?
by John Gillingham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and provocative revisionist approach to the EU, 8 Mar 2006
I much enjoyed reading Prof Gillinghams' book. I work at the EU institutes in Brussels myself and read many books on the EU and European history. I was therefore skeptical in the beginning on 'yet another book on the EU'. However, I was positively surprised and learned a lot that was new to me from this thorough, provocative, detailed yet also wide historical analysis of modern European integration. In its critical approach the book reminded me of Andrew Moravscik 'Messina to Maastricht' which the author also mentions.
Having acknowledged the author on a very impressive job that no student of EU can now ignore, I also have the following points. At times I found the book quite depressing in how very negative it often seems toward European integration in the first place and the role of the Member States and the EU institutes, notably the Commission, reading like a long list of lamentations of how stupid, ignorant, pigheaded etc. etc. it behaved. I would actually agree with many criticisms on EU institutes like the Commission, especially in the field of R&D support progammes, and also on the long list of very relevant and insightful criticisms on the CAP for which mainly the MS are to be blamed. Nevertheless, at times the writer seems to go over the top with criticisms that seem more at home in a bar than as serious analysis, for instance on on 'overpaid lazy EC officials'. More serious perhaps is the treatment of EMU. I would fully agree that it was more driven by politics than economics, but I think the author sells EMU short and does not give a balanced account of costs and benefits. For instance, the fact the the introduction of EMU was not necessarily on an optimal currency area does not invalidate the project; Rather than wait for that to appear, if ever, EMU can also be taken as helping to create or push toward such optimality in the first place. Also, no or hardly any mention is made of the often significantly lower interest rates that EMU allowed for many EU MS, notably the Southern ones.
The way forward for the EU as suggested by the auhtor, with effective democracy in action and real, rather than professed, subsidiarity made a lot of sense to me and indeed seems where a workable future lies; this can no longer be an elitist technocratic project where many people feel alienated.
In the last chapter the author seems to turn around and praises the men and women who have been working very hard toward European integration, which, after relentless criticism throughout the book looks a bit odd.
As stated earlier, I would much recommend this book for any serious student of the EU.

The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are
The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are
by Robert Wright
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars insightful, fascinating and witty, 4 Feb 2000
I loved this book. Robert Wright argues convincingly the corner for evolutionary biology/ psychology. He shows just how much our lives are run by our genes, the biological basis for human behavior, and how much of animal behaviour we still exhibit. Biology as a cause for our most basic impulses, which does not absolve us for responsibility for our own behavior but explains the soucre of our drives from a Darwinian point of view. He uses Darwins' theory (which is really brillant in its simplicity and a very powerful tool) on the life of Darwin himself so you get to read about his life, his theoy and the manifold applications all at once. What is the biological basis e.g. for jealousy? Applied to relations between the sexes it gives fascinating insights into society. The absense of a moralizing tone here is refreshing, and the writing very funny at times. Both males and females are not spared in this ruthless and humane analysis. Sometimes the theories or ideas he posits seem almost too weird but Wright makes it convincing. Highly recommended!

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