on 5 August 2014
After a great deal of searching this is definitely the best introduction to the EU that I have been able to find.
Much of the EU material available in the UK, particularly from our media and politicians, is fragmented and unhelpful. Those in favour effuse about how much better it is for Europe's nations to work together rather than to fight wars. Those against just grumble about some of the particularly daft decisions the EU has taken. Both sides throw out spurious facts and statistics to support their view. Neither side seriously discusses what the other side has to say.
This book takes us through the continuing development of the EU from 1945 by describing particular problems the member states were trying to overcome at each stage. EU progress was bound to be slow with such varied member states, with changes requiring many compromises and liable to introduce new, unforeseen problems. The author's view is that the EU will probably get there in the end, but it certainly hasn't got there yet.
Overall, the author guides us as electors to take an active interest in how the EU should progress. He gives us enough background to explore the arguments both for and against specific developments and hence to influence what our MEPs try to do about them. This is a refreshing change from those who are content simply to effuse or to grumble on the sidelines.
on 9 February 2016
If you want to read just one book about the EU, this is the one : genuinely objective, very good at explaining how the history of this rather strange union (2 of the 3 big powers spent the best part of 1000 years killing each other) not only came into being, but how (and why) it has stumbled it's way to the current state : points out superbly how (effectively) this institution came into being not due to a blueprint, but a combination of a wonderful dream and the realities of life from end of WW2 to now. Crucially, where we are now is not where we were 25 years ago, and it is not where will be in 25 years. Very good at explaining the complex structures of EU, in a simple and not overly detailed way. Should be required reading for all voters in upcoming UK referendum.