Luuk van Middelaar
"... refreshing and perceptive ... Van Middelaar is a more thoughtful guide than most to these [EU] institutions and events, in part because he brings the eye of a political theorist to his years working for the European Council president." – Alex Barber, Financial Times
"brilliant ... his discussion of the high politics of migration is the best thing yet written on the subject." – Christopher Hill, "Book of the Week", Times Higher Education
"... a brilliant series of case studies that illuminate different points in the creation of a new European political theater unscripted by the innumerable treaties and rules that created the EU as we know it today." – James McAuley, New York Review of Books
"This splendid new volume, written by perhaps the ultimate ‘insider’ ... is far more than an insider’s account of the current dilemmas of the EU ... The author pursues a fascinating discussion on the nature of ‘opposition’ as perceived in Brussels ... [and] also exposes the way in which constitutional and procedural ‘depoliticisation’ is used to place certain policy options outside the political arena, removing from view those responsible for a given decision ... will become perhaps one of the most important texts for students, teachers and would-be reformers for many years to come.” – Derek Hawes, Journal of Contemporary European Studies
"Quite simply the most insightful book on Europe’s politics today. A unique blend of behind-the-scenes knowledge, compelling ideas and powerful political judgement. History is back, not as a script, Luuk van Middelaar shows, but as a living entity, and the choice is ours: do we want to play or be played? The book is a great toolkit, not only for a better performance of Europe’s political actors, but also to cope with the cheers and booing of the European public." – Donald Tusk, president of the European Council
"Whatever our future relationship with the EU, our prosperity will be hugely dependent on understanding what it is, how it works, where it might be headed and what crises, beyond Brexit, it is trying to surmount. This book is a truly brilliant guide on all. It avoids all the fatuous lazy generalizations which so bedevil much UK debate, and points to the reforms that will be needed if the EU is to surmount the most formidable set of challenges it has faced since it was formed." – Sir Ivan Rogers, British Ambassador to the European Union, 2013–17
"With his fluid style and sharp eye for detail and context, Luuk van Middelaar has captured many of the critical themes with which Europe must grapple over the coming years. Even as an eye witness to many of these events, I found reading his book rewarding as his observations often provide new insights and valuable distillations of complicated issues." – Anthony Gardner, US Ambassador to the European Union, 2014–17
"Lively and well-informed ... offers thought-provoking insights into the European Union, its ways of working and its many challenges, both historical and contemporary." – Prof Dame Helen Wallace FBA
"An elegantly-written study of how European Union politics changed in response to the dramatic political events of recent years. The book combines the inside knowledge of a participant in the theatre of European politics with the critical distance of the political theorist. It is neither a partisan defence of the European Union nor a pessimistic prophecy of doom, but a cool analysis of the role of European institutional structures and of key personalities." – Bruno De Witte, Professor of European Law, Maastricht University and European University Institute
"a fascinating take on events in recent European history" – Matthew Partridge, MoneyWeek
Crisis after crisis has beset the European Union in recent years – Greek sovereign debt, Russian annexation of Crimea, unprecedented levels of migration, and the turmoil created by Brexit. An organization originally designed to regulate and enforce rules about fishing rights, wheat quotas and product standards has found itself on the global stage forced to grapple with problems of identity, sovereignty and solidarity without a script or prompt. From Paris to Berlin, London to Athens, European leaders have had to improvise on issues that the Union was never set up to handle and which threaten to engulf this unique political entity. And they have had to do so in full view of an increasingly disenchanted and dissonant public audience.
In this candid and revealing portrayal of a Europe improvising its way through a politics of events and not rules, Luuk van Middelaar makes sense of the EU’s political metamorphosis over its past ten years of crisis management. Forced into action by a tidal wave of emergencies, Van Middelaar shows how Europe has had to reinvent itself by casting off its legal straitjacket and confronting hard issues of power, territorial borders and public authority.
Alarums and Excursions showcases the fascinating relationship between the Union and the European heads of government, and the stresses it must withstand in dealing with real world events. For anyone seeking to understand the inner power play and constitutional dynamics of this controversial, but no less remarkable, political institution, this book provides compelling reading.
PART I ACTS AND SCENES 1. Improvising: the euro crisis 2. Negotiating: the Ukraine crisis 3. Setting boundaries: the refugee crisis 4. Uprising: the Atlantic crisis
PART II THE THEATRE 5. Two foundations 6. Directors and actors 7. The opposition takes the stage Epilogue
Luuk van Middelaar is a historian and political theorist. In his role as a speechwriter and close advisor to the president of the European Council (2010–15), van Middelaar witnessed the political theatre of Europe from the front row. He is currently a professor at the Europa Institute of Leiden University. His previous book, The Passage to Europe (winner of the 2012 European Book Prize) has been translated into more than ten languages. He was advisor to the acclaimed BBC programme, Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil (2019).