Continental Wedlock


By Axel Krause

HarperCollins -- 356pp -- $25

Europe's march toward a single market is one of the decade's epic happenings. If you find the path to 1992 hard to follow, this road map should help. Axel Krause, a Paris-based journalist and onetime BUSINESS WEEK correspondent, traces the roots of a unified Europe from Charlemagne through the 1986 accord that got the current ball rolling. He shows how Brussels, home to 7,000 lobbyists, ticks--and how decisions get made in the complex web of European Community institutions. His frame of reference, like much of EC history, is heavily French.

While long on facts, Krause's book is sadly short on analysis. Often it reads like a choppy computer scan of political events and business deals. Its tone is uncritical, sometimes to the point of puffery. Krause's executives are "hard-driving," his diplomats "seasoned." Europe seems a happy land of commerce and industry, rather like a place conjured up for a WPA mural.

Yet the book is full of useful data as well as interesting short profiles of key Europeans, including Jacques Delors. The cerebral president of the EC Commission--who has only a high school education--took his job as a consolation prize after twice losing out in his quest to be named France's Prime Minister. He is given to fits of anger and once called a Greek EC commissioner unfit to run a restaurant. We also meet the barons of European industry, whom Krause casts as the real force behind 1992.

The book includes essays by four leaders--Margaret Thatcher, Fran cois Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl, and Delors--outlining their visions for the new Europe. Intriguing summaries of differing views, the essays show there are still ticklish curves in the road to a united Europe.