Committee: Margaret Beissinger, Peter Wagner, Lavinia Stan.
The committee unanimously chosen Tom Gallagher’s Romania and the European Union: How the Weak Vanquished the Strong (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009) as the best book in Romanian Studies published in English in 2009-2010. The study was a clear first choice because of its highly contemporary and relevant subject matter, original and provocative analyses, logical approach, and lucid style. Romania and the European Union is a remarkable account of how corruption penetrated Romania’s entry into the EU in 2007. It relates how the local elite not only managed to orchestrate admission into the EU on the basis of an astonishingly minor set of changes but also how Romania has left promises of significant reform unfulfilled. Gallagher’s own unparalleled familiarity with Romania and its politicians greatly informs his novel interpretations. Original and courageous in his interpretations, Gallagher masterfully integrates case study and EU accession study by laboriously identifying the various points of contention that surfaced during the years of negotiation over Romania’s entry to the EU and the ways in which all of those points were disregarded and even shoved aside. The Romanians involved in the EU discussions were able to pull the wool over the eyes of the anxious and uncertain EU leadership, gaining accession with only a measly agenda for reform. He shows how local figures falsely persuaded the EU that they would satisfy many of the economic criteria for membership, thus convincing the EU to disregard the violations that would occur and even those then taking place. Gallagher furnishes a disturbing account of the long-standing deceit and exploitation among Romania’s post-communist elite as well as the EU leadership’s inability to detect and counteract such conduct. Romania and the European Union is a major contribution to Romanian and European studies, a commanding and convincing monograph that is relevant far beyond Romania as the “West” and “East” Europes of the Cold War now seek to eliminate boundaries. EU accession has been the single most important historical event in post-communist Romania. It is fitting, then, that the SRS Book Prize be awarded to Gallagher, whose intrepid and chilling account of Romanian-EU maneuvers over the past ten years offers an extraordinary analysis of these events—an original and powerful reading that boldly confronts and challenges many of the conventional political views and insights. It is a truly great case study. Congratulations, Tom Gallagher, for this seminal and provocative contribution to Romanian Studies! Tom Gallagher taught in the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford.