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.