European Union, international role, European federation, European Conference, The Hague, Rome Treaties, 1948, 1957, OEEC Organization for European Economic Cooperation, political motivation, economic motivation, cultural motivation, Resistance groups, EU European Union, Europe, reconstruction of Europe, economic system, American influence, Marshall Plan, European organization, European protectionism, military security, European cooperation, end of 1947, European project, European development, EEC European Economic Community, member states
Already during the war, many Resistance groups asked themselves how to stop the cycle of recurring European wars. After 1945, many groups and associations suggested going back to the European ideas of the 20s, which included the concept of a European Union (Briand Plan of 1930). They stressed three kinds of motivation: political, economic, and cultural.
At the cultural level, the Europeans were now clearly aware of their basic unity, but also of the frailty of their civilization in the era of Superpowers.
Politically, as soon as 1947-1948 the will to resist the Soviet pressure on Europe (as exemplified by the tragedy of Eastern Europe, which was an important catalyst) did much to make the European idea welcome. But also the wish of the Europeans, not to be just an appendage of the US in the on-setting Cold War.
At the economic level, a major factor was the realization of the fact that, beyond the reconstruction of Europe, it was necessary to create a Europe-wide economic system in order to lower costs (through advantage of scale) and to be able to compete with the US.
[...] The solution was the same as for coal and steel: there also, put Germany in a European framework, controlled in fact by France. Hence the European Defence Community project, also called the European Army also, with a High Commission independent from the Six Member States, a council of the Six defense ministers, an Assembly. But in fact there would be no proper command atop the EDC: the European Army would be put under NATO, meaning under American command. There was no opposition at the time to the US; it was seen as essential for the defense against the Soviet Union. [...]
[...] The CSEC treaty was signed in April 1951: free trade of coal and steel, without customs duties, and a common policy for investments, prices, social measures decided by a High Authority independent from the member governments, in charge of the general common European interest, with a council of ministers representing the Member States and an Assembly (elected but the national parliaments) to represent the people. This was a prototype for the future organizations: supranational and integrated, but in well-defined fields. It would not be an overall Federation, even if that was Jean Monnet's ultimate aim. It would be, in the words of the time, functional (meaning developing in precisely defined activities, like coal and steel) and progressive . Towards a European Defense Community (EDC) and a Political Union (1950-1954)? [...]
[...] Conclusion The daring idea of a European Federation, a United States of Europe, had been tested, but failed in 1954. Until the middle 80s the trend of European development would remain more cautious, basically resting on interstate cooperation, not supranationality, apart from closely circumscribed sectors. But the supporters of a more closely knit Europe retained their further aims, and their constituency (the European administration in Brussels, the Christian-democratic parties, later the Socialist parties, the federalist movements, small but vocal, a good part of the media, and the full support of Italy, Germany and the Benelux, even if France was much more reluctant). [...]
[...] So, the first European organization had been created under American influence, to streamline the European economy and fight traditional European protectionism. The US had a vision for Europe in a worldwide liberal system. And the Marshall Plan and OEEC did a lot to liberalize the European economy: it was a major, if forgotten, step towards European integration. The American governing principle, the message to the Europeans was: "Help yourself (by organizing yourself better and through European cooperation) and America will help you". [...]
[...] It should be noted that the preamble of the Brussels Pact mentioned cooperation in all fields, including economics and social matters and culture, with the possibility to build special organizations (as they actually did for the military side, with a European General Staff in Fontainebleau). Starting from the Brussels Pact it would have been possible to develop a broad European organization, resting not on integration (see below) but on far-reaching interstate cooperation and allied with the US. This was often a possible line of evolution for Europe. The Birth of the European Project: The Congress in The Hague and the Council of Europe (1948-1949) In May 1948 took place a Congress in The Hague of the European groups and movements; there was great enthusiasm. [...]
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