Matters of Record – Inside European Politics: The Diaries of David Harley 1992-2010

By David Harley
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View David Harley in conversation with Financial Times political editor George Parker in conversation about the book:

The Harley diaries are a record by one who was ‘in the room’ of what went on and who said what in meetings between political leaders and policymakers in Brussels and beyond in the 1990s and 2000s. The diaries provide a wealth of original and frequently entertaining source material for those with an interest in international affairs or the history of the EU.

David Harley was an official at the European Parliament, ending his career as deputy secretary-general. Most of the entries in these diaries are from the period when he was successively Parliament’s director of press and media (1999-2002), spokesman for Parliament’s president Pat Cox (2002-2004) and secretary-general of the Socialist Group (2004-2007). Based on the detailed notebooks he kept at the time, the diaries are a faithful and unvarnished record of meetings involving such diverse characters as Silvio Berlusconi, Dick Cheney, Jacques Chirac, Walid Jumblatt, Peter Mandelson, Martin Schulz and Gerhard Schröder.

The period of most of the diary entries was one which saw the first flush of enthusiasm of New Labour for the EU begin to lose its bloom, deep divisions within the EU and with the USA over the war in Iraq, and constant wrangling over treaty reform. But most of all these were the years of optimism. With the accession of new member states from Eastern Europe redefining what ‘Europe’ was and could be, the successful introduction of the euro binding the national economies, and a continuing expansion in the role of the EU institutions, not least the Parliament, this was a time when the wind was truly in the sails of the European project.

Table of Contents

  • About the author
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • The diaries 1992-2010
  • Index of personal names


‘An insight into what went on behind closed doors, as seen through the meetings, faces and places through which David Harley’s first-hand narrative unfolds.’

— Pat Cox, President of the European

‘The consolidation of European institutions is often criticised for its lack of transparency. David Harley unleashes transparency by the boatload, unveiling the human side of political transactions over two decades in Strasbourg, Brussels and beyond.’

— Rafael Bernal, The Hill newspaper, Washington DC

‘Peppered with anecdotes, these entries offer a fascinating account of what goes on behind the scenes and in the wings of the European and world stages.’

— John Hooper, The Economist Correspondent in Italy and the Vatican, author of ‘The Italians’ and ‘The New Spaniards’

‘Matters of Record is full of great stories about how the EU operates, told from an insider’s perspective, and is particularly strong on European-US relations.’

— Christopher Bickerton, Fellow of Queens’ College Cambridge, Lecturer in Modern European Politics

Product Details

Publication Date
14 Jun 2021
Page Count