Books to read, places to see…

I am preparing for a trip to the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad, and for the lecture I should be giving there. The lecture will be a wrap-up of notions on the History of European Integration, different conceptions of European Integration, and the current crisis. It gave me an occasion to use the following books and writings:

. For most of the thing, I used Desmond Dinan’s excellent Ever Closer Union (fourth edition). Dinan’s book is a great work of synthesis on the EU’s history, institutions, and policies. I don’t agree with a few details (I find Andrew Moravscik’s explanation of the empty chair crisis, on which Dinan leans, unconvincing), but these are small things. Essential reading for everybody interested in European Integration History.

. I used a few books as inspiration for the various conceptions and visions of European integration. One of them was an interesting discovery: Laetitia Spetschinsky’s Russie-UE. La naissance d’un partenariat stratégique … (1991-2000), Peter Lang, 2011. Great work, that unraveled clearly the way euro-Russian relations evolved after the Cold War. A part of the book deals with the USSR’s relations with the European Communities. We assume that the USSR was clearly hostile to European Integration until Gorbachev, but Spetschinsky draws a more varied picture. Under official hostility, Soviet policy seems more ambiguous than expected – after all, the EEC was better than NATO, and the formation of a unified Europe could be seen as a positive thing able to make the Western block more diverse. But essentially, what seemed to underwrite the Soviet Union’s relations with European integrated communities was incredulity and disbelief: it could not work, because integrated organizations of this kind just do not work – eventually, they crash on the harsh realities of statecraft and nationalism… That was interesting, if only as an illustration of the role of representations in foreign policy decision-making.

. For the Euro-crisis, I used, apart from a series of articles and Dinan’s relevant sections, Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol’s working paper: The Euro crisis: a historical perspective. An excellent analysis, well written, and with the lazy reader in mind – the money quote is right at the end:

It is not sustainable for countries with so diverse economies and structures to share a single
currency. And since they now share it, and that it would be more costly to leave it than to
remain in it, economic convergence is urgently needed. This means further harmonisation
of fiscal policies, economic policies, and social policies. To be sure, this is a very difficult
problem, capable of raising endless political disputes, and unlikely to be resolved painlessly
overnight. And here lies probably the most perverse effect of the single currency: it has
provided the illusion that the problem of inconsistent economic and monetary policies
had disappeared. All of a sudden, we seem to have re-discovered it with the euro crisis,
confirming that when it comes to understanding our current economic and monetary
predicament, history should be used as much as economics.

Dont acte.

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