Published by EH.NET (July 2006)

Gilles Grin, The Battle of the Single European Market: Achievements and Economic Thought, 1945-2000. London: Kegan Paul, 2003. xvi + 375 pp. $144.50 (cloth), ISBN: 0-7103-0938-4.

Reviewed for EH.NET by John Gillingham, Department of History, University of Missouri — St. Louis.

This dissertation from the Graduate Institute of Geneva is long on explanation and short on interpretation, yet well worth the slog. Gilles Grins relates a familiar story. He examines in exhausting detail the early history of integration, explains (beginning with Jacob Viner) how economists have developed and debated the theory of customs unions, tracks the genesis and uneven growth of the internal market from 1985 to 2000, and tackles the outstanding unanswered question overhanging it — whether, in the end, the effort has been worthwhile. While the author’s lengthy exposition of economic theory is accurate, fair and often illuminating, the appreciative reader must also share Grin’s special taste for the EU’s jargonesque administrative terminology, convoluted bureaucratic procedures, and institutionalized thinking. The book would have been more solid, not to mention readable, if the author had managed to cut through such stuff. He did not, but instead remained captive of his subject. This lengthy book does not, as a result, shed new light on the central question it raises. It is, however, a valuable quarry from which can be mined raw material, whose value, however, future writers will have to establish.

John Gillingham is the author of Design for a New Europe (2006), European Integration, 1950-2003 (2003) and Coal, Steel and the Rebirth of Europe, 1945 1955 (1991).