Book Review: European Unity and World Order: Federal Trust 1945-1995. By John Pinder. London: The Federal Trust, 1995. 60 Pages.

6 Colum. J. Eur. L. 389 (2000)

reviewed by Leyla Marrouk.

This work traces fifty years of the Federal Trust’s existence presenting a concise chronological account of its progress. Although this text is a fountain of facts and names, a warning is in order. The book does not go far beyond the actions of the Trust to the issues of the era. If one is looking for an in-depth analysis of the impact of the Federal Trust, this source only provides a rough framework. Nonetheless, John Pinder, a Trustee of the Federal Trust, Deputy Chairman of the European Movement in Britain, vice-president of the European Movement, and Honorary President of the Union of European Federalists, manages to summarize the basics of the Federal Trust’s past actions. According to the Federal Trust’s official web site, its aim “is to enlighten public debate on federal issues of national, continental and global relevance. It does this in light of its statutes which state that it shall promote studies in the principles of international relations, international justice and supranational government. As a think tank, it has addressed federalism, Britain’s role in the European Union and promoted the study of issues of concern to British and European policy-makers.

Pinder begins with an account of the beginnings of federalist thought in England in Chapter One: Prologue – 1939-40: Federal Studies under Beveridge, which focuses on how World War Two galvanized Sir William Beveridge into moving from social reform to the “study of a postwar European federation. In the second chapter, entitled “A Modest Beginning,” Pinder discusses the founding of the Federal Trust, made possible by Douglas Sanders, funded by Ota Adler, in 1945 which was soon supported by individuals from the business community, international politics, and the world of the arts. Once the groundwork was laid, the Federal Trust began its campaign for federalism and European Unity as described in the rest of the book. In Chapter Three, “Moving Britain towards the Community,” the steps undertaken by the Trust are related in detail, starting with business  conferences at which essays, studies, and papers by different scholars were presented, and then moving on to conferences to inform European lawyers of the issues and potential of a European community, the dissemination of pamphlets and books by the Federal Trust, and weekend seminars to encourage discourse between individuals in Britain and those on the Continent. Pinder takes some time to discuss the results of all these efforts, pointing out the creation of “an atmosphere in which Continentals could look on British membership not just as a problem but also as an opportunity, while the British could regard the Community as something they could shape as well as join,” as well as the creation of Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA – a network of institutions similar to the Trust) among other consequences. Pinder concludes that “the trust can generate policy-oriented ideas and can invite political practitioners to discuss them.” Attention is then turned to the Trust’s focus on exploring solutions to the reservations Britain held with regard to joining the European Community such as common agricultural policy and “the effects of entry on the British economy.” Although Pinder goes into great detail regarding the individuals and events in this section of the text, he does not discuss the findings of the Trust in an in-depth or analytical manner. His accounting is little more than a fleshed out time-line. This limitation is a fairly consistent shortcoming of the entire work.

Chapter Four, entitled “Making the Most of the Community 1973-90,” deals more specifically with TEPSA, a monetary union, the place of Europe in the world (and Britain’s concern about the impact on its foreign affairs policy), accession by southern candidates to the Community, the EC budget, common agricultural policy (CAP), membership, employment policies, trade unions, democracy in the Community institutions (especially the  European  Parliament), subsidiarity (introduced by the Maastricht Treaty – “the idea that political decisions should be taken at a level of government as close as practicable to the citizen”), “over-centralization in the United Kingdom,” and the Trust’s work on federalism. This chapter incorporates more of the surrounding historical events and trends than other portions of the text. More specifically, Pinder points out the impact of the Cold War, Gorbachev, and the Third World on the Community and Britain’s accession to it.” Although Pinder does point out crucial events in his historical account of the Trust’s development, his focus remains squarely on the Trust’s actions and achievements. He does not digress far in his work to deal with the impact of such events in a more thorough manner. At times, a reader may feel that the context of all the conferences, books, symposiums, etc. is not clear unless the reader is already well acquainted with the time frame in question. Thus, reading this work in conjunction with other more general European historical texts maybe more rewarding for readers who do not have a thorough understanding of all the forces at play at their fingertips.

Chapter Five, entitled “To Maastricht, 1996 and Beyond,” continues Pinder’s  description of the evolution of conferences and study groups undertaken by the  Trust in its effort to stay current and address arising concerns of both Britain and  Continental Europe, such as an economic and monetary union, wider public  involvement, education, economic integration, and political union. Pinder also  looks at the impact of current events in a sub-section titled “From the Gulf War to the British Presidency: 1991-92” which explored the Trust’s reaction to the crisis in the Middle East and its impact on the European Union. With that, Pinder draws his historical text to a close, finishing with a segment called “Into the next half-century” in which he points out that instead of trying to push the idea of federalism, the Trust has been successful in garnering support for specific policies leading to greater cooperation and integration, saying “this has been seen as more productive because such steps are both more feasible politically and likely to be useful in themselves, whether or not they are seen as leading towards a fully federal system.” Pinder concludes by stating that the Federal Trust will attempt to clarify the idea of federalism, working against the misconceptions that have plagued the word in Britain, “but during the coming fifty years, the Trust will continue to develop the idea of federalism in a practical way, first in the European Union and then in the wider world.”

Overall, John Pinder’s book European Unity and World Order: Federal Trust 1945-1995 is a thorough and detailed account of the Federal Trust’s first fifty years of existence. It provides a source of names and titles of important individuals and works which can lead a student of the history of the European Community, Britain, and recent European policies to more analytical materials. However, on its own, the book is no more than a fleshed-out and detailed textual time-line, at times confusing and overwhelming in its detail. Certainly, more consideration of surrounding current events and factors could have provided a clearer context and perspective for understanding the significance of the Federal Trust in the development of a European Community and Britain’s policies. That said, it is likely that John Pinder’s goal was not so much to provide an analytical or argumentative work on the Trust’s role, but perhaps to provide a descriptive work of the Trust’s role, in which case it is highly successful.