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VINE VOICEon 28 November 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A very timely fully updated 2013 edition of this well-established volume and series - if we want to dig a little deeper than a TV programme or a newspaper article allows then this compact volume fits the bill. The language and tone are authoritative, informative and to my mind objective on this very emotive subject. The glossary needs continual reference to keep on top of things and the chronology is a very handy summary of key events. If we are going to consider whether UKIP deserves our vote, then we should read this little book first!
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VINE VOICEon 7 November 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There is so much unbalanced journalism about the EU and its institutions that I felt duty bound to read this. The authors' enthusiasm for the "European project" is clear but they don't ram their feelings down your throat. This is very important reading for all who want to feel informed on advance of the possible referendum on EU membership. Highly recommended for its clear explanations and comprehensive coverage of EU history and institutions.
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European Union is one of the most ambitious and expansive political projects in history. Its ultimate goal, it is now quite clear, is the unification of almost all of Europe into a single political entity. The project has grown from its rather modest origins from a purely economic organization into what is now one of the most important political and economic unions in the World. However, both the path to this point and the future ahead are beset by numerous challenges.

I've been eying this short introduction for a long time. As someone who is originally from Europe and who still has the majority of the family members living there, I cannot really afford to be ignorant of the events on that continent and its political structure. However, I am now glad that I've waited to purchase this book in its third edition, since it now includes mentioning of Croatia. Since I am now officially an EU citizen, I have even more reasons to try to understand it the best I can. After reading this book I certainly have much more appreciation for all the intricacies of the EU's political mechanisms.

This is a very detailed book with a lot of information and facts strewn throughout its slim 150 pages. It takes a largely chronological approach to the Europe's integration, and goes into some detail in explaining various policy decisions. The book assumes a fairly neutral point of view, aiming to inform the reader rather than to shape his or her opinions. The third edition is thoroughly updated and includes all the major developments up to 2013. However, as witnessed by the tumultuousness of the ongoing economic crisis, all of the European institutions are still in the state of flux, and it is very likely that the fourth edition of this book will be in order before too long.

Even though the book is well written and extremely informative, it is still a pretty dry read. Various policies, political and economic maneuvers can feel rather esoteric, technical and opaque. The book's view of EU is highly institutional, without much scope for deeper ideas or relevance to the daily lives of most Europeans. This is probably the reflection of how most Eurocrats view their project: as an ongoing bureaucratic venture that is almost an end in itself. There might be many virtues to this attitude, but it sure doesn't manage to inspire.
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on 7 October 2013
I am a University student and I am studying the European Union and my lecturer recommended this book for basic knowledge. It is extremely useful and it is well detailed on 'Europe in the World'.

Highly recommended!!!
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on 4 March 2016
This is a description of how the EU works through having a European Commission, Council of Ministers, European Parliament and so forth.

It includes how the EU structure has been added to or amended over the years in order to deal with issues arising. It reads as if the structure and changes that have taken place as a matter of course meet the prooblems they were intended to solve. There is no real assessment of whether or not the structure is working properly and there seems to be evidence that it is not.

In brief, as a factual description of structure then it is satisfactory. What is absent is an assessment of how well the structure is working in practice.
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on 6 November 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This 3rd edition is fully updated and superceeds the earlier ones in this handy series which has reached 350 titles. There is an annotated bibliography, a chronology, a glossary,and at the front a 3 page list of acronyms (this latter is indipensable since any discussion of the EU is full of them including this one and they are difficult to memorise).

The EU is not an easy subject but this book provides a good entry to it,and an understanding of it is essential to all European citizens.

Four out of five.
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on 16 January 2016
Very dry. I gave up half way through. Long convoluted sentences, lack of narrative and too much organisational detail for the layperson.
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VINE VOICEon 27 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found this book a fascinating read, and since it is into the third edition of the book I imagine plenty of others have enjoyed it to.

It contains pretty much everything you might want to know about the European Union. It begins with a very good history of the EU and how different countries have joined over the years - I believe there are around 28 countries as members at the moment.

It gives an excellent account of how countries really get things done through what might be called "trading" - if you do this, I'll do that. Right when the EEC was getting started the Germans wanted an Economic Plan, the French a Common Agricultural Policy and the Italians a Social Fund, so they all agreed to what the others wanted, and things got moving.

A similar example happened much later - in 1990 the Germans wanted a united Germany, but the French were keen to move forward with a Single European Currency - the Germans were happy enough with their Deutschmark but agreed to the single currency to unite Germany.

The book deals with the "two pillars" of the EU - federalism and inter-governmental agreements. Essentially countries in Europe have common problems that it often makes sense to try to deal with all together. They also don't want to allow other European countries to "race to the bottom" by for example cutting costs with worse health and safety or environmental regulations, so they keep a level playing field in many areas. In other cases countries want to do things differently - sometimes this can be individual countries all doing something different, in other cases some countries can group together without everyone having to do it - as in the case of the Single Currency.

There has long been a hope that European countries might be able to rationalise their defence spending by having a common defence force, rather than individual countries each having to fund a separate military, but so far such an agreement has proved elusive.

There are a number of interesting topics - there are still a number of countries who want to join the EU - Turkey in the 1960s wanted to join and was told to wait for 22 years (!!) - in the 1980s - after 22 years - they still wanted to join - and talks are still ongoing. There is some concern about the impact having Turkish membership would have, as in the not too distant future it would be the largest country in the EU, however it would of course enlarge the EU and make the economic and political clout of the EU even stronger - at a time when Europe needs to be strong against the USA and China.

There are plenty of charts and facts and figures - it shows who benefits and who pays out economically between the different countries, shows the different political parties in the EU, shows the different trading and political "zones" in and around Europe, of which the EU is of course just one, and a map of members and those who are applying for membership.

It was thought when the last batch of countries joined things might get economically chaotic, but in fact the new member counties have been fairly quiet, it is the older member countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain that have caused some problems, but it is hoped that now plans are in place to deal with the economic challenges.

It is extraordinary to thing what the EU might be in 10-20 years time if it keeps growing. Will it still be a "European" Union?

The book also reveals how strange it seems for UKIP and some elements in the press to want to leave the EU when so many other countries want to join it. It would be like a region of the UK not wanting to send an MP to Parliament to "save money" - when of course Parliament would still exist and you would have to deal with it, but in not sending an MP you would no longer have any influence there. The UK will still have to trade with Europe and would have to abide by European standards and rules in order to trade, but in not being members would be unable to influence EU policy.

This is quite a long "Very Short Introduction" - I usually think of VSIs as about 100 pages, this is about 177 pages, so is longer than most, however it is full of fascinating information and if you are interested in politics, history or economics you will love it.
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VINE VOICEon 27 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The previous reviewers have done an excellent job in supplying `A Very Short Introduction's of their own to this important little book. It remains for me just to add my own humble approval.
As we will be expecting to vote on the conditions of British association with the rest of Europe in the near future the responsible approach is to gain information that is clear, concise and correct. In the succinct chapters which cover the origins of the EU, how it literally works, its relationships with the other states of Europe and the also the rest of the world and of course those dread items The Common Agricultural Policy, The Budget, Single Currency and Single Market these criteria are met.
True, the EU is portrayed in a positive light, but there are enough abbreviations, boxes displaying organisation and facts you did not know to also put you off by revealing the very size of the EU. You have the information. How you view it is your choice.
If you do have definite opinions or concerns about The EU then this book is recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 12 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There is no doubt that the British public's coolness towards the EU is related to the paucity of information (as opposed to hostile propaganda) in the mass media. This book is a comprehensive and up-to-date history and description of the EU, necessarily somewhat "boring" for those who seek a laugh-a-minute read, which ideally everyone should read before pontificating about what is a complex subject. The authors clearly believe that the EU, and British membership thereof, is a good thing, but they do this not by idealistic posturing but by giving many specific examples (for instance, we should not forget that, had it not been for the French government having to obey European law, the UK would still not be able to sell its beef there). The book is little concerned with personalities (Angela Merkel gets not a single mention, for example) but prefers to concentrate on hard facts. A comprehensive glossary and chronology complete an important and useful little volume.
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