Simon Hix is one of my all-time favourite academics. As well as the usual academic virtues of rigour and accuracy, Simon Hix attempts to find solutions. His is analysis with an active conclusion, a rare quality made even more valuable by its scarcity.
Published in 2008, What’s Wrong with the European Union and How to Fix It is Hix at his best. As one of the most incisive and well-informed commentators on EU matters, he eloquently explains the EU’s often slow decision making processes and explains that the requirement to keep all member states on board makes it difficult to break out of the status quo.
Unlike the unthinking eurosceptics Hix is convinced that we need the EU principally for its economic benefits. It is therefore necessary to improve the way it works and deal with the policy gridlock and the lack of popular legitimacy.
Hix’s recipe for EU success is indeed radical. Advocating democratic politics in the EU with political parties fighting European Parliament elections on EU wide policies and not national platforms as at present with each of the candidates for President of the European Commission issuing a political manifesto before the European Parliament elections, Hix is nothing if not creative.
Moreover, Hix’s arguments are backed up by an impressive array of data. The book is full of diagrams, graphs and charts, enough to convince any rational person of the benefits of EU membership.
However Simon Hix’s ideas are more than pie in the sky. Britain needs to get real about the EU and understand that there is no way we can leave. Given that, it makes sense to be as fully involved as possible and shape the agenda. Hix’s ideas would help further that aim. This book is therefore essential reading for anyone with any kind of interest in EU matters.