Book Review: A Diet of Brussels. By Leon Brittan. London: Little, Brown and Co., 2000. 211 Pages.

8 Colum. J. Eur. L. 571 (2002)

reviewed by Yvette D. Valdez.

In A Diet of Brussels, Leon Brittan offers a view of Europe reflective of his personal experiences as the Vice President Commissioner for the European Commission. Brittan reveals a unique perspective of the negotiations, deals and day to day activities that make the European Union (EU) and its future possible. Through an analysis of negotiations, policies and deals that arose from his influential and powerful leadership roles in the European Commission, Brittan both describes how the European Union overcame tremendous setbacks and impediments and offers a personal view of Europe’s future. Unlike other books on the economic and political aspects of the European Union, Brittan relates a personal story: the story of a man determined to liberalize Europe. Through the eyes of a British Commissioner, the story he tells reveals how the myth of the European Union became a reality.

Brittan’s important role in the European Union merits comment. For over a decade, he led the European Community towards liberalization. From 1989 to 1992, he was the Vice President of the European Commission. From 1993 to 1994, he oversaw the External Economic Affairs and Trade Policy of the EU. From 1995- 1999 he again served as the Vice President of the European Commission. During his Commission, Brittan served as the EU Trade Commissioner leading Europe as the European Monetary Union (EMU) and the World Trade Organization changed the face of the international political and economic stage.

In addition to proposing what he thinks needs to be done to secure the future of the European Union, Brittan affirmatively defends his liberal policies in the face of anxious anti-European sentiment among the British, a group he calls “Eurosceptics.” He not only wants to advance his vision of the European Union, but also wants to quell the existing fears and convince the skeptics that have attacked him throughout his commission that the liberalization of Europe is not an abandonment of Britain. His response to the concerns of “Eurosceptics,” although specific to his experience with Britain’s reaction to liberalization and integration policies, produces an overall framework that is closely linked to an underlying question when addressing future cooperative economic policies: the balance between the European Union and a nation’s sovereignty.