“So you’re the new Mike Shackleton!”
Whenever I mentioned to friends and colleagues that I was working on the new edition of The European Parliament with Richard and Francis, I would hear those words. Of course, the reaction is scarcely a surprise – the book is an institution and, now a quarter of a century old and on its ninth edition, it had previously always had the same three-author team. There is undeniably something slightly strange about co-authoring a book you yourself have used as a reference for many years.
I cannot, for a second, claim to have the encyclopaedic knowledge that either Richard or Francis bring to this book (our late-night working sessions in Strasbourg would often involve staggeringly detailed discussions of events that could date back some years…). But it has been an absolute privilege to be able to learn from them and work with them on a book that they themselves created, and which has unequivocally stood the test of time.
For me personally, working on the book has been an immensely rewarding experience. Of course, there is all the research and fact-checking, which is essentially an individual pursuit. But the real value of this book is that it goes way beyond the simple cataloguing of facts, events, procedures and personalities. And it does so thanks to all the help and input from colleagues around the European Parliament who share their own intimate knowledge of how things really happen. For me, the most enjoyable aspect of working on The European Parliament has been meeting and talking to people from across the Parliament who have helped in so many different ways to shape the content of the book.
The ninth edition of The European Parliament significantly updates its predecessor. Whereas the eighth edition chronicles the chief changes of the Lisbon Treaty for the European Parliament, this edition begins to assess how those changes have played out in practice. And it’s probably fair to say that not everything has happened as might have been envisaged! Once again, the input of day-to-day practitioners from across the European Parliament has provided a truly unique insight.
Darren Neville has been in the European Parliament secretariat for the past eight years, first as an interpreter and latterly as a policy analyst focusing on justice and home affairs. The European Parliament 9th edition is available to purchase from John Harper Publishing.
Editor: Eliot Scott-Faulkner