Thinker's Corner

Doing Less To Do More: a new focus for the EU by Nick Clegg (Centre for European Reform, 29 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL, £5, ISBN 1-901229-17-3).

Bedevilled by bureaucracy, administratively overloaded, ignored at the polls and resented by vociferous nationalists, the EU and its nucleus, the European Commission, are facing what the Lib Dem MEP Nick Clegg calls "a crisis of legitimacy". His prescription for reform is to work with the existing institutional infrastructure to improve not just the EU's efficiency, but also its democratic legitimacy: the EU should determine European matters, such as the war on international crime, but individual countries should look after their own affairs and not cause the EU to spend costly time on domestic business. Clegg's recommendations are grounded in his own experience and a thorough knowledge of his material, and, while not being tantamount to a ground-breaking overhaul, they seem to offer a sensibly streamlined vision.

The EU and World Trade by Richard Cunningham, Peter Lichtenbaum and Julie Wolf (Centre for European Reform, 29 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL, £10, ISBN 1-901229-18-1). The American lawyers Richard Cunningham and Peter Lichtenbaum team up with the former Wall Street Journal Brussels correspondent Julie Wolf to pen a pair of essays on what they perceive as the EU's opportunity to take the global trade initiative in the wake of the failure of the WTO at Seattle in December last year. This is especially the case at the moment, with the US absorbed by presidential elections. In order to revive the "Millennium Round", the EU must sort out the problems in its own backyard, particularly the Common Agricultural Policy. Once it has taken this lead, the authors argue, it can work towards a better global trading system to properly address the environment, human rights and poverty. The danger, however, is that the fallout from Seattle may engender a "slide toward protectionism".

This article first appeared in the 02 October 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Nightmare on Downing Street