The two decades following the oil crisis of 1973 were a decisive period in the history of the EU. During that time, governments launched the Single European Act, harmonized regulations, promoted financial and monetary integration, and suppressed traditional industrial policies—a combination of policies often described as “neoliberal.” Now, historians with access to primary documents can explain in detail how and why this happened. Although Warlouzet is sometimes tempted to exaggerate the range of potential choices governments faced, in the end, his book proposes some clear answers. Governments freed up markets because they had little choice: the major alternatives, notably the protection and subsidization of national champions, had proved costly and ineffective. Leaders turned to the EU to coordinate the shift not because European idealists persuaded them to do so but because it seemed the optimal way to commit one another to collective liberalization: the EU was large enough to be effective without being as diverse and unwieldy as global institutions. Yet the result was not uniformly neoliberal. Policies such as regulatory protection, social welfare provision, and state support for agriculture and other declining sectors remained essential elements of a distinctively balanced European model.
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