The summer is a great time to relax with a book, so we asked some of the European Parliament's members what they recommend people read while sunbathing on the beach or chilling out by the pool and why.
EP president Martin Schulz, a German Social-Democrat, recommends Die Zisterzienser. Geschichte eines europäischen Ordens (The Cistercians. History of a European order) written by Immo Eberl. "I am finding out more about the monastic traditions and their influence on Europe's culture," he explained. He also had good things to say about Hartmut Soell's biography of former chancellor of West Germany Helmut Schmidt. "Helmut Schmidt is of the most fascinating politicians of my lifetime. I had the honour to meet and discuss with him recently and exchange deeply on the economic crisis and the future of the European Union."
Gay Mitchell, an Irish member of the EPP group, says people should read Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, which is based on the author's own experience in four different Nazi camps between 1942 and 1945, while his parents, brother and wife perished. "This is more than a record of the experiences of an extraordinary human being, it is a moral compass," Mr Mitchell said.
Hannes Swoboda, the Austrian chair of the Social Democrat group, suggests reading Hungary between democracy and authoritarianism by Professor Paul Lendvai. "Paul Lendvai presents how Hungary became an example of the new threats confronting democracy in Central Europe. He assesses these shocking changes back to an authoritarian system in detail and offers his readers an unsparing and dispassionate account, based on his intimate personal knowledge of Hungary’s major political figures and its political culture."
Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian chair of the Liberal-Democrat group, advises Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty penned by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. "Why nations fail is a wonderful and extraordinary book that has a deep impact on the way you look at history and the world. The authors studied why some nations become rich and successful and others poor and divided. The answer they give is: 'It's not the economy, it's politics.' The authors claim political institutions in a country or a region determine the prosperity. There is a useful lesson to learn from the book for Europe and the European Union. We do not live beyond our means, but we need to reform our institutions and adapt our laws if we wish to maintain our wealth."
Meanwhile Rebecca Harms, the German co-chair of the group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, is full of praise for 3/11: Tagebuch nach Fukushima (3/11 - Fukushima diary) by Yuko Ichimura and Tim Rittmann. "Yuko Ichimura has produced a book with texts and drawings about the first six months following the 'biggest ever recorded earthquake in Japan'. This books contradicts nearly everything that has been written about what is typical about Japan and the Japanese in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. You can either read it, look at the pictures or both. In any case will it give you a better idea of how the Japanese cope with the disaster."
Martin Callanan, the British chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, has a different suggestion altogether. "Rather than one long book this summer, I would recommend two shorter papers, both of which set out ways forward for the embattled euro zone, instead of further bailouts, more austerity imposed by the Troika, and continued summitry that fails to deliver tangible results. Firstly, a paper drafted by Roger Bootle of Capital Economics, which recently won the a £250,000 Wolfson Prize for a credible scenario under which a country could leave the euro. His plan would see a new currency introduced that had the same worth as the euro, with wages, prices and deposits redenominated one for one. Then the markets would move the foreign exchange rate to a level that is more appropriate. The other paper is drafted by Professor Markus Kerber. He explores the possibility of creating a 'Guldenmark' as a parallel currency to the euro in countries that have an A rating and a current account surplus."
Nigel Farage, the British co-chair of the Europe of freedom and democracy Group, has opted for Olly Figgs's Europe on 387 million euros a day. "I studied the EU for years, and was amazed - not to say appalled - on reading Figg's book, to discover how much I did not know: Figg really does a fine job!"