Orchestrating Europe: The Informal Politics of the European Union, 1943-95

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9780006862635: Orchestrating Europe: The Informal Politics of the European Union, 1943-95
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This work explores how power in the European Union is managed and negotiated and how the various interests - governments, industry, finance, agriculture and trade unions - divide it and haggle over it.


European Union is the grand political enigma of the late twentieth century. Its very essence resists definition, and why and how it works defy agreed explanation. For politicians, it is endlessly controversial, even occasionally fatal, but for businessmen and bankers it is a source of opportunity, and for students the gateway to broader horizons. From above, where Council ministers haggle, it seems to offer a welcome hybrid of all member-states’ systems; but from below, at best it represents the legal, political and economic context in which every player is bound to operate, while at worst it is perceived as a miasma or a haven for unproductive bureaucrats.

But a clear view is nonetheless possible. In examining the informal machinery of European power, Keith Middlemas opens up an unfamiliar and expansive alternative prospect, illuminating not what is 'said' to happen, but what actually does. In the gap between the official and the real, member-states, regions, companies, financial institutions all complete, seeking to create durable networks of influence to gain advantage in a never-ending game, a game fundamental to the EU’s nature. A complex web of rivalries is spun. Drawing on over four hundred interviews by a gifted team of European researchers with participants at all levels, Middlemas turns his unblinking eye on those who inhabit that web to disentangle its disputes, its rules, its flaws, its successes. He shows us a Europe spinning itself into existence, and a Union much different from that envisaged by its founders.

'Orchastrating Europe' disassembles Europe’s machinery before us, and reveals how this giant construction hums with ever greater activity as its complexity increases over time. Middlemas offers a contemporary historian’s view, in which the present is a logical extension of the recent past, not something open to infinite possibilities. And he gives us the clearest, fairest, fullest and most reliable picture of just how the many levels of players in the game behave. Two key questions recur: does pragmatic political informality give each European player a better chance to success; and to what extent is the Union becoming a state of a very different type from those member-states of which is constituted? 'Orchastrating Europe' presents the most complete answer to these questions – fundamental to the future of all Europeans – yet published.

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