Most scholarly literature on the EU gets mired in the weeds of technocratic policymaking or floats in the clouds of supranational institutions. So it is a pleasure to read a book that returns to the biggest historical puzzle posed by the evolution of European integration: How is it possible to have such intense and deepening cooperation (albeit with occasional failures) without strong, authoritative institutions of the type traditional nation-states possess? Europe continues to integrate in areas such as foreign policy, immigration, and internal security, without delegation to central authorities, but these authors do not wring their hands. Instead, they argue that the EU is not about “ever-closer union.” Rather, the default setting of the EU is informal consensual deliberation. This analysis is not new, and its plausibility rests on explaining away the powerful European Central Bank and on a blanket assertion that the EU is in disequilibrium and might change. Yet this book bears close reading as an effort to return theories of European integration to the debate about the EU’s future.
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