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What's Wrong with the Europe Union and How to Fix It Paperback – April 7, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0745642055 ISBN-10: 0745642055 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


"An exciting, rigorous and compelling book. The fix of Hix makes much more sense than the Panglossians who want to do nothing or others who argue that all the EU's problems will be resolved with better PR and more procedural reforms."
International Affairs

"Hix's research makes a convincing case that left-right divisions have deeply penetrated policymaking in the parliament, the council and the commission. Missing is a contest for political power and policymaking between rival groups and policies, with clear winners and losers and a visible link between voting, leadership and outcome."
Irish Times

"[A] short and highly readable book, which began life as a series of policy papers written for the UK government."
Ethics and International Affairs

"Simon Hix's analysis is as authoritative as his case for reform is compelling. Reasoned, rigorous and riveting, this book is a must-read for all who care about the future of the European Union."
Sir Stephen Wall

"An exceptionally clear and provocative argument in favour of 'limited democratic politics' in the EU, showing precisely how it could be applied to the 2009 European elections."
Michael Shackleton, Secretariat of the European Parliament

"Simon Hix is among the leading political analysts of the European Union of his generation. Here he offers a critical yet balanced analysis of Europe's 'democratic deficit', linked to pragmatic proposals for reform. Whether one agrees or not, this slim and readable volume is required reading for anyone seriously concerned about the constitutional future and political legitimacy of Europe."
Andrew Moravcsik, Princeton University

From the Back Cover

The European Union seems incapable of undertaking economic reforms and defining its place in the world. Public apathy towards the EU is also increasing, as citizens feel isolated from the institutions in Brussels and see no way to influence European level decisions.

Taking a diagnosis and cure approach to the EU’s difficulties, Simon Hix tackles these problems with distinct clarity and open-mindedness. What the EU needs, Hix contends, is more open political competition. This would promote policy innovation, foster coalitions across the institutions, provide incentives for the media to cover developments in Brussels, and enable citizens to identify who governs in the EU and to take sides in policy debates. The EU is ready for this new challenge. The institutional reforms since the 1980s have transformed the EU into a more competitive polity, and political battles and coalitions are developing inside and between the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission.

This emerging politics should be more central to the Brussels policy process, with clearer coalitions and identifiable winners and losers, at least in the short term. The risks are low because the EU has multiple checks-and-balances. Yet, the potential benefits are high, as more open politics could enable the EU to overcome policy gridlock, rebuild public support, and reduce the democratic deficit. This indispensable book will be of great interest to students of the European politics, scholars, policy makers and anyone concerned with the future of the European Union.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (April 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745642055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745642055
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,181,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 24 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on August 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Simon Hix is the Professor of European and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He chaired a working group for the Cabinet Office during the Convention drawing up the EU Constitution.

Hix sees three problems with the EU: policy gridlock, lack of popular legitimacy and the democratic deficit. He notes, "In substantive terms ... the EU is closer to a form of enlightened despotism than a genuine democracy." Yet he calls its political design 'pure genius'. He also thinks that 'the US has an ideal political-economic model', which gives some idea of his political nous.

In response to the EU's problems, he proposes to change the European Parliament's procedures for choosing its president and committee chairs, to make the Council's proceedings more open to the public, and to have a more open contest for the Commission's president. He explains patronisingly that through these reforms, "citizens will begin to understand and engage with EU politics."

He also mentions that the EU is 'a driving force of global economic and political integration'. He calls for the liberalisation of labour markets, welfare states, public services and energy industries, although he admits 'the downward pressures on public spending, corporate tax rates and wages that result from market integration and liberalisation'. He notes, "one group in society that has benefited enormously from European integration is the economic, political and social elite."

His proposed reforms completely ignore these economic realities, but these, not the EU's institutional failings, explain why public support for the EU has fallen since the early 1990s to just 50% across the EU and 30% in Britain.
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