From the AGI Bookshelf: The Passage to Europe

Jackson Janes

President Emeritus of AGI

Jackson Janes is the President Emeritus of the American-German Institute at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, where he has been affiliated since 1989.

Dr. Janes has been engaged in German-American affairs in numerous capacities over many years. He has studied and taught in German universities in Freiburg, Giessen and Tübingen. He was the Director of the German-American Institute in Tübingen (1977-1980) and then directed the European office of The German Marshall Fund of the United States in Bonn (1980-1985). Before joining AICGS, he served as Director of Program Development at the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (1986-1988). He was also Chair of the German Speaking Areas in Europe Program at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, DC, from 1999-2000 and is Honorary President of the International Association for the Study of German Politics .

Dr. Janes is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Atlantic Council of the United States, and American Purpose. He serves on the advisory boards of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee, and the Beirat der Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (ZfAS). He serves on the Selection Committee for the Bundeskanzler Fellowships for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Dr. Janes has lectured throughout Europe and the United States and has published extensively on issues dealing with Germany, German-American relations, and transatlantic affairs. In addition to regular commentary given to European and American news radio, he has appeared on CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, CBC, and is a frequent commentator on German television. Dr. Janes is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in Education.

In 2005, Dr. Janes was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany’s highest civilian award.

Ph.D., International Relations, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, California
M.A., Divinity School, University of Chicago
B.A., Sociology, Colgate University

Transatlantic relations, German-American relations, domestic German politics, German-EU relations, transatlantic affairs.


The effort to create a European community of nations and peoples is one of the most important experiments in world history. On a continent shaped by war and conflict for centuries, the past sixty years stand out as tribute to the ongoing commitment to building the European Union we know today. Understanding that evolution has been made more accessible through Luuk van Middelaar’s analysis. Drawing on his experience in the wheelhouse of the EU, The Passage to Europe (Yale University Press, 2013) offers an opportunity to grasp one of the key questions at the center of the European project: who speaks for Europe? The book looks at the three main levels of analysis to match the European structures that have been built: the machinery of the EU, the member states, and the European public at large, which the author feels has come up short in understanding their stake in this vast enterprise. The relationship between the Europe of States and the Europe of Citizens is a strained one. The politics, the policy, and the polity of Europe remain a competing mix of interests, which van Middelaar captures in a juicy quote from Bismarck, “I always came upon the word ‘Europe’ in the mouths of politicians, who wanted something from other powers that they did not dare ask on their own behalf.”

The book is a terrific introduction to the complex web of interactions going on within an ever expanding European framework that struggles with its own limitations and as well as it promises. One chapter, “The German Strategy: Creating Companions in Destiny,” is particularly illuminating . Here one finds the the core questions of the EU: “how do we become one?”, and ” why are we together?” The German strategy suggests that what binds Europe together is a moral and a political act and the building blocks to sustain it. Yet, the author sees that strategy as problematic–even if understandable–from a German perspective. He contrasts that strategy with two other versions and ultimately concludes that Europe’s current crises will be another reminder of the need to join forces to respond. However, this response will will not generate a completed common destiny. It will only be another milestone in pursuit of the European promise. This book may be helpful to non-Europeans trying to deal with the often frustrating experience in trying to answer the question: “who speaks for Europe?” But, it might offer insights into how the Europeans have been grappling with the answers. In the end, it is encouraging.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.