There has never been any dearth of literature on the European Union and its external actions. Books, special features and articles on this exceedingly complex and unique organisation abound.
The novice and even the confirmed expert, who seek a better understanding of the challenges involved in a particular domain and an insight into how it works, frequently encounter an impressive profusion of written sources of an extremely variable quality and exasperating redundancy. How is it possible to make an informed choice from the thousands of pages displayed by the different search engines, when we submit a request for ‘EULEX’, which is apparently so unambiguously specific? How can one choose between a sterile press statement, an article from a Eurosceptic publication, a blog revealing the internal tensions at the Secretariat of the Council or an erudite compilation of improvements provided by the Lisbon Treaty?
The goal of this book is to guide the reader through this inextricable jungle towards quality publications that are either written by recognised and highly esteemed authors or which focus on original themes, whilst demonstrating a novel approach. Despite the apparent plethora of sources, the authors achieve the unexpected result of identifying four areas where reference sources are sorely lacking.
This thankless but passionate task was accomplished by a team of five European researchers under the shrewd and energetic editorship of Maria Raquel Freire and Paula Duarte Lopes, senior lecturers at the University of Coimbra (Portugal). The authors also succeed in the rare feat of not succumbing to customary but egregious Anglophile sectarianism. As well as the admittedly majority quota of English-speaking documentation, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Finnish articles are also included. The only criteria guiding this choice were quality and the pertinence of the subject.
This publication is supported by COST, an intergovernmental scientific funding body set up under the European Union’s 7th Framework Research Programme, helped to make this polyglot miracle possible. This funding enabled EU-PAX, a network of 35 senior researchers, mainly European, to be set up, who provided assistance to the authors through a process of critical rereading. Many scientific reviews would be envious of this extraordinary editorial committee.
The work of our network, however, does not stop there, quite to the contrary. This is only the first step in a more ambitious adventure that should help us to develop a possible European vision for peacekeeping. This may be perceived as a rather madcap challenge, which many political decision-makers have advised us to abandon, but is it not the role of intellectuals to question all taboos that have been set in stone?
This book seeks to provide the first markers for a trail ahead that is strewn with potential pitfalls.