In This Review

What Kind of Europe?
What Kind of Europe?
By Loukas Tsoukalis
Oxford University Press, 2003, 240 pp

This is not just one more book on the theory of European integration, nor a specialized study of the intricacies of EU governance and policymaking. It is, quite simply, the most readable, comprehensive, and balanced account yet of an extraordinary experiment in interstate cooperation that tries, sometimes rather acrobatically, to reconcile democracy and bureaucratic management, old nation-states and a sovereignty-restricting superstructure, and interdependence (in economic and monetary matters) and independence (in diplomatic and strategic ones). Tsoukalis, a professor of European organization at the University of Athens, provides a shrewd assessment of what has been accomplished so far in the realms of policy and institutions: a "political system without a state," built by an "elite-driven process," in which democracy and legitimacy are still mostly indirect. He discusses the winners and losers (redistribution has been limited, capital has fared better than labor), relations with the rest of the world (the "privileged partners," the difficulties of a common foreign policy), and the bewildering diversity of rules for common policies, of which "an economist from Mars would find ... hard to make any sense." He also provides a view of European monetary union ("the final and irrevocable confirmation of the reality ... of a unified European economy") and describes the troubles of enlargement ("a difficult product for politicians to sell to their electorates in the member countries," and in some applicant countries as well). Tsoukalis' conclusion notes the difficult tension between democracy and interdependence, the obstacles to building the EU into a global power, and the need for Europeans to become "more aware of the choices [these tasks] imply." He unfortunately does not fully cover the disturbing rift between the United States and several EU powers or the divisiveness caused by the Bush administration's policies in Iraq, but these are the only gaps in an admirable piece of work.