In This Review

The European Union and its Crises: Through the Eyes of the Brussels' Elite
The European Union and its Crises: Through the Eyes of the Brussels' Elite
By George Ross
Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 224 pp.

Populist politicians and tabloids in Europe have long spread the view that EU officials are impractical, self-aggrandizing, dogmatically centralizing technocrats. Ross counters with a refreshingly empirical corrective to that myth. Extensive interviews with EU officials reveal a modest and pragmatic mindset. They view the EU as an intergovernmental institution dominated by the wills of its member states. Market reform and enlargement are needed to revitalize Europe, but officials recognize that recent EU efforts in this regard -- the so-called Lisbon agenda and the admission of 12 new member states -- have triggered unexpected problems and public skepticism. Still, most officials reasonably view the legitimacy crisis of the EU mostly as a function of the declining popularity of national governments themselves. True, until the recent financial crisis, Brussels’ elites tended to treat the single European financial market and the euro as successful and stable. Yet in this, they were hardly being more myopic than most business leaders and politicians in the rest of the continent.