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The EU: An Obituary

A major account of the failings of the European Union—and why it has to go
The European Union is a besieged institution. It is struggling in vain to overcome the eurozone crisis and faces an influx of refugees not seen since World War II. The Schengen Agreement is a dead letter, and Britain stands on the brink of leaving altogether. The EU is unfit for the challenges of the coming age of increased global competition and high tech. In sum, the drive for an “ever-closer union” has set Europe on the wrong course: plunged it into depression, fuelled national antagonisms, debilitated democracy, and accelerated decline. In this pithy, rigorously argued book, leading historian John Gillingham examines a once great notion that soured long ago.

From its postwar origins, through the Single Market, to the troubles of the present, Gillingham explains how Europe’s would-be government became a force for anti-democratic centralization and inept policy-making. Brussels has inspired a world of illusion that now threatens to undo the undoubted achievements of integration. The EU: An Obituary is an urgent call to the political Left, Right, and Centre to act before it is too late.


  • “John Gillingham has established himself as one of those very rare commentators who can read European history in three dimensions.”
  • “An excellent, up-to-date history of the EU which overturns many preconceived ideas and challenges the views of Eurofanatics and Eurosceptics alike.”
  • “John Gillingham is the pre-eminent American historian of the European Union.”
  • “At a time when clear thinking about Europe’s political and economic future is urgently needed, John Gillingham has provided a convincing diagnosis of the EU’s present malaise and a challenging set of prescriptions which deserve to be taken seriously by Euro-philes as much as by Euro-sceptics.”
  • “As a means to take corrective actions and ultimately save the EU, Gillingham pursues a historically driven reassessment of the EU’s past aimed at examining missteps, discovering subsequent solutions, and offering a glimpse into a potential future. In light of the its uneven course during its years of formation, expansion, and consolidation while currently faced with systemic threats, the EU requires fundamental reforms to remain relevant in an increasingly globalized international system.”


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