Taking Europe to heart

24th February 1995 at 00:00
Duncan Watts examines the resources available to cope with the new stress on Europe in A-level politics syllabuses. The ever-increasing impact of Europe on our politics will be matched from this September by an enlarged presence of European issues in our A-level government and politics syllabuses. But this is something publishers have yet to capitalise on. Despite the abundance of material available on the European Union, much of it is either introductory in character or geared to higher education students.

So what should you look out for? My Reluctant Europeans and Britain in the International Community, available from the Politics Association Resource Centre, review the development of the relationship, and discuss the impact of Europe on British political life. The centre also produces two Themepacks on the EU written by members of the European Policy Research Unit at the University of Manchester, plus an assortment of relevant videos.

A more detailed assessment of the effects of British involvement is provided by S Bulmer in The United Kingdom and EC Membership Evaluated (1992, Pinter).

On the European Union there is a new edition of The Government and Politics of the European Union (1994, Macmillan) by Neill Nugent, probably the best available study. It has been recently revised and is the most authoritative appropriate text. Nugent provides an array of reference sources and ideas on further reading.

C Archer's Organising Europe: The Institutions of Integration (1994, Arnold) examines the EU, as well as other European organisations such as the Council of Europe. D Dinan's Ever Closer Union (1994, Macmillan) is a helpful introduction to the workings of the Community, as he still calls it. The New Europe, edited by V Keegan and M Kettle (1994, Fourth EstateGuardian) contains a selection of interesting articles by the paper's journalists about post-Maastricht Europe.

For up-to-date information on specialist aspects, contact The Centre for European Union Studies at Hull University (Department of Politics, University of Hull, North Humberside, HU6 7RX).

Otherwise, there are some more accessible guides. The COI booklet Britain in the European Community provides a descriptive rather than an analytical treatment of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the member states. The Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, based in Luxembourg, provides (for the more devoted buff) a copy of the Maastricht Treaty on request, and produces a monthly digest of Recent Publications on Europe, including official EU material and books from the commercial and academic presses. OPEC also issues a European File of pamphlets, around 20 a year, on various relevant topics.

The main institutions of the Union provide leaflets giving information on how they are organised. These are mostly of a basic nature but they help to keep the reader up-to-date and will, for instance, in future show the impact of enlargement from 12 to 15 states on the operation of the Union's policy-making machinery. The European Parliament (2, Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AA) and the European Commission (8, Storey's Gate, London SW1P 3AT) are prolific in devising pamphlets on their role and membership. The EP produces a video on The European Parliament at Work and a free information pack which is well written and worthy of attention. It is worth being on their mailing list to receive the regular monthly magazine, EP News.

The European Movement, a pro-European pressure group, provides speakers for schools and the Federal Trust for Education and Research, based at the same address (158, Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9TR) produces new teaching materials for sixth forms under its Working in Europe theme. The BBC is including an examination of the issue of sovereignty on a CD-Rom, planned for late 1995.

There is a plethora of material available, once you know where to look. But there is plenty of scope for the production of a manageable and accessible guide to the European Union, written with the A-level pupil in mind.

Duncan Watts is editor of the Politics Association's Resource Centre and writer of books and articles on British and European politics.

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