In This Review

The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union
The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union
By Luuk van Middelaar
Yale University Press, 2013, 392 pp

Van Middelaar, a smart, young political philosopher who now works as a speechwriter for European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, seems well positioned to cut through the myths and stereotypes that obscure how the EU works and why it is in crisis today. His insightful overview of Europe’s historical evolution is livened by occasionally revealing anecdotes of behind-the-scenes political intrigue. Yet in the end, he finds it difficult to transcend the same technocratic prescriptions for an “ever-closer union” that have led Europe into its current impasse. He suggests that diplomats, lawyers, bureaucrats, and politicians deepen their cooperation across borders and impose centralized democratic practices on Europe from the top down. But he does not closely analyze the economic incentives, financial pressures, monetary reforms, public support, or partisan coalitions that would be required to make those solutions work, and he fails to adequately answer the critical question facing the continent today: How much integration do Europeans really want?