How do I find out about the EU?

A point that I’ve heard since I started working at the Representation, and one that came up again today in the wake of #thespeech is along these lines:

I don’t know much about the EU and I don’t know where to go to find out.


So here’s my selection of EU Starters for Ten:

I would start with Helen Wallace’s run-down on the 40 years of membership in the Journal of Contemporary European Research. It has a useful timeline, rounds up the main areas of narrative and even includes a comparative table of public opinion since 1973.

I then suggest listening to Europe’s Choice, a short series by Allan Little and Jane Beresford on Radio 4 that looked at the elements contributing to the Euro’s current situation.

My next point of call would be the Charlemagne blog at the Economist, in all of his recent incarnations (he’s like Doctor Who, you know, and regenerates every few years). Certainly the EU specific articles are knowledgable and interesting, and those on other European countries can give useful context that is sometimes missing in the debate here.

Suggestions made by others included:

State of the Union by Anand Menon

Europe in 12 lessons (written by Pascal Fontaine and published by the European Union Publications Office)

I’d be interested to know what others would put forward as a good place for an interested newcomer to start finding out about the EU. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment.


The UK and political union

The European Parliament Information Office recently hosted an event in Europe House looking back over 40 years of UK membership of the EU, and looking forward. It seems to have been a good discussion, which you can see on the hashtag #uk40.

One tweet from @EUouth quoted former UK Permanent Representative to the EU, Sir Stephen Wall:

This speaks to an important issue. There is evidence that the political dimension of membership was clear from the beginning of the discussion about the UK applying to join the EEC. This speech by Woodrow Wyatt, introducing a 10 minute bill in 1961, clearly mentions the political aspects:

An intern working here a while ago turned up in our archives a speech by Alec-Douglas-Home when he was Foreign Secretary which also spoke to the political aspects. In this speech from 1970, which was made available to the media at the time, he says:

The last point I want to make is this. There has been some questioning on the Continent of Britain’s long-term intentions. We are asked whether we accept the political implications of the Treaty of Rome. The answer is an unequivocal Yes.

He quotes George Brown talking in the Western European Union in 1967

“We believe that Europe can emerge as a Community expressing its own point of view and exercising influence in world affairs, not only in the commercial and economic, but also in the political and defence fields.”

and goes on to say

We have no reservations about the institutional framework of the Communities. Nor do we jib at the evolution of these institutions.

The emphasis is his, as you’ll see in the original, which is linked to above.

So whatever has happened between now and then, it seems pretty clear that the UK government, and by extension media, was well aware of the political implications of its application to join the EEC.

I’ve also seen a House of Lords report from around the time of accession that also talks about the political aspects and the issue of the primacy of the decisions of the European Court of Justice, again something that was there from the beginning. I can’t find that report at the moment, so if anyone can point me towards it, I’d be very grateful.