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National Leaders and the Making of Europe – Key Episodes in the Life of the European Council

by Pierre de Boissieu, Jim Cloos, Poul Skytte Christoffersen, Luuk van Middelaar, Jacques Keller-Noëllet, Guy Milton, Christine Roger, Thérèse Blanchet, David Galloway, André Gillissen
£18 / €25 Buy Now
ISBN: 9780992974893 Published: 5 November 2015


Since its creation in 1974, the European Council has evolved from an informal meeting of presidents and prime ministers, resembling a cross between a society gathering and a diplomatic conclave, to become a full EU institution in its own right and the Union’s supreme political authority, driving its strategy and resolving its crises. Nothing of any significance in the Union can now be set in motion without its consent, nor accomplished without its support.

This book tells the story of how this came about. Individual chapters describe landmark meetings of the European Council, providing a detailed account of what went on at each summit, evoking the atmosphere and tensions and drawing out the achievements and longer-term significance. As well as high-level politics and the great issues of the European project such as enlargement to the East, treaty reform and the creation of the single currency, the story also involves the clash of strong personalities, sub-plots and moments of high drama.

The authors are serving or former senior EU civil servants who have all been closely involved in preparing and attending European Councils. Very few officials have such intimate access. They therefore write as first-hand witnesses of events as they happened, offering new perspectives and insights.

National Leaders and the Making of Europe is an important book. Written by insiders who also have the bigger picture in mind, it brings selected pivotal moments in Europe’s tumultuous history back to life.’
Herman Van Rompuy

Read about the book in Politico.

Table of Contents

About the Authors

Authors’ Preface

Foreword by Herman Van Rompuy

Introduction: A Seat of Political Power and Authority

  1. The Birth of the European Council, Paris, December 1974
  2. The Promise of a Middle East Policy, Venice, June 1980
  3. The Price of a New Beginning, Fontainebleau, June 1984
  4. A Coup d’Etat in Milan, Milan, June 1985
  5. Paving the Way for the Single Market, Luxembourg, December 1985
  6. Pulling the Purse Strings, Brussels, February 1988
  7. After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Paris, November 1989
  8. Reshaping the Union around the Euro, Maastricht, December 1991
  9. Egos and Vetoes: Choosing the Commission President, Corfu, June 1994
  10. Which Road to Fiscal Rectitude for the Euro?, Dublin, December 1996
  11. Breaking New Ground on Free Movement, Security and Justice, Tampere, October 1999
  12. A Mismatch between Ambition and Reality in Economic Performance, Lisbon, March 2000
  13. The Quagmire of Reforming the Institutions, Nice, December 2000
  14. Uniting the New Europe, Copenhagen, December 2002
  15. Resurrecting the Treaty, Brussels, June 2007
  16. Europe’s Ambition to Lead on Energy and Climate Brussels, December 2008
  17. Saving the Euro, Brussels, June 2012

Concluding Remarks: Legitimacy and Leadership at the Crossroads of European and Domestic Politics

Appendix 1: Chronology of Summits, European Councils, Informal Heads’ Meetings and Euro Summits

Appendix 2: Glossary



The authors are all current or former senior officials of the European Union.