European Union: The Basics

European Union: The Basics

European Union: The Basics

European Union: The Basics


Fully updated to include the new Treaty of Lisbon, this is the best short and accessible introduction to the politics of the European Union, written by one of the world's most well-known authorities in the area. Ideal starting reading for students and the general reader, it explains in clear jargon-free language:

  • the EU's development to date
  • how the EU works, and why it works this way
  • the EU's major policies
  • the EU's biggest problems and controversies
  • the EU's likely evolution in the coming years.

The new edition builds on the strengths of the previous edition and now includes extra material on:

  • the Treaty of Lisbon
  • the EU's development since 2003, including its enlargements in 2004 and 2007
  • recent EU policies and rule changes
  • the EU's role in the world.

Key features to help learning and understanding are:

  • boxed descriptions of key issues and events
  • a guide to further reading at the end of each chapter
  • a glossary of key terms, concepts and people
  • helpful appendices about the EU's member states and good internet sources.


When the first edition of this book was written in 2003, the EU was entering a period of great uncertainty after the collapse of the process of negotiating a new Treaty. This period has lasted ever since, although the Treaty of Lisbon, agreed in December 2007 as this edition of the book was being finalised, may bring a successful conclusion to it. In those intervening years, much has happened to and in the EU, which has evolved from a Western European organisation to a pancontinental one, and seen heated debates not just about its policies, but about its legitimacy, its proper place in the world, and its internal workings. The ‘basics’ about the European Union have not altered beyond recognition since 2004; nonetheless, they are not quite the same as they were – hence the need for a second edition.

A feature of the first edition was its attempt to be both up-to-date and accessible; to judge by the feedback I have received from both my fellow academics and students (not all of them my own!), that goal was met pretty successfully. I hope that this second edition does the same. However, just as with the first edition, there are limits to how up-to-date a book such as this can be: even by the start of academic year 2008–9, much more will be known about the fate of the Treaty of Lisbon than can be established as I write. Thus, although Chapter 6 . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.