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United Europe. The Initiators of Integration after the Second World War

Essay 2014 7 Seiten

Geschichte Europa - and. Länder - Europa Nachkriegszeit


Give a short account of the first steps to integration! How were they motivated? Which were the initiators? How did they proceed?

"Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity…"[1] – Robert Schuman (, n.d)

This extract from this important speech shows the gradual aspect of building a new continent that was disrupted after a harsh war like World War II. As this extract states, there was no intention to build the continent all at once. This speech shows that after a war like WWII, the European countries needed to find a way to secure peace for the entire continent after a lot of devastation that had occurred. The idea was to promote trade and establish peace by bringing together European nation states, to create one goal…Unity.

The run up to the Schuman Declaration.

The leaders and visionaries never wanted to go back in the path of war again, this is reflected on what McCormic (2002, p63) states, “as WWII finished, for many, the major threats to peace and security were nationalism and the nation-state, both of which had been discredited by the war.” When WWII finished, European visionaries and leaders strived hard so that Europeans never get back to war with each other again. Many articles and opinions exist on how World War II influenced the nature of Europe, and what kind of ideas it created, many of these include Lipgens[2] (cited in Dedman, 2010 p14) provides a particular argument about WWII that;

“The experience of WWII had an overwhelming formative influence on the prospects and nature of the European federalist ideas. It changed everything. It increased support for the federal ideas as Europe’s status diminished compared with that of the super-powers: the US and USSR .”

After WWII, many visionaries were interested to push up the economy and politics of Europe, related to this, Parsons in his article, argued that, after WWII in 1945, the economic and political themes were taken into consideration by a range of people of whom mainly politicians, interest groups and clubs (Parsons, 2009, p.4).

Urwin (1995) argues that, Churchill who is one of many visionaries who worked hard in the beginnings, had many visions with regards to European Integration. In the famous speech delivered in Zurich in 1946, he ranged widely across the subject of integration, arguing that it was imperative to establish a ‘ United States of Europe

Continuing on the situation after the WWII, in his article about European Integration, Areilza (n.d) states that, the Contribution of the US helped in the reconstruction of Europe reconstruction and cooperation among Europeans. Urwin (1995, p15), argues that, in March 1947 President Harry Truman outlined what was to be known as the Truman Doctrine. This was a pledge of American support for “free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures”.

In 1949, the North Atlantic was signed, by which the US agreed to help its European allies to “restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area”. This pact was given more importance moreover, with the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) (McCormick, 2002 p62).

During this phase after the WWII, Schwartz states that, “Jean Monnet cooperated closely with the US government and society to launch the European Communities (which were designed to favour Western cooperation and interests as a whole” (Schwartz, 1991 p 104-105 cited in de Areilza José M. n.d, Article also available online)

Schuman Declaration and After

As said in the beginning of this essay, the Schuman plan started the process of contemporary European Integration. According to Dinan (2006) not only Schuman himself contributed to what is now the European Union. The motivation and positive dynamics of the visionaries were needed, because it was with the results of their work The European Unionhas become the way it is, people from Schuman to Adenauer, to Monnet and Spinelli amongst others strived hard from the beginning. From resistance fighters to lawyers, the founding fathers, although different from each other, they had the same shared idea, which was: a peaceful, united and prosperous Europe. It was not easy for these leaders to define and agree on what integration really meant, they all had their different perspectives and ideas. There was the keenest “Europeanists”, like Altiero Spinelli and French bureaucrat Jean Monnet, who addressed a federal Europe.

In 1950, the same year of the Schuman Declaration, the French Government proposed the European Defence Community (EDC), in 1954, the French Legislative Assembly vetoed it, and so it was cancelled. The EDC was replaced by the Western European Union (WEU). The WEU overlapped with NATOs mission, and so it had a minor role in European Defence. (Ocaña, 2003).This had put the integration process on hold, for plans ondefence and political union. It would be thirty-nine years before the Member States ratified another Treaty, signed at Maastricht in 1992, purporting to establish a ‘European Union’ (Craig & de Búrca, 2011 p5)

The integration process went on, and in April 1951, the Treaty of Paris was signed, this Treaty established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), with France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg made up this first European Community (Ocaña, 2003).

In July 1952, the ECSC came into effect, and lasted for a period of fifty years (till 2002). The Treaty created a High Authority based in Luxembourg, to succeed in integrating coal and steel markets of six member states. The ECSC not only worked on the coal and steel market, but also on iron ore and scrap, as well as sectoral transportation and labour markets. The Schuman Plan that led to the ECSC embraced the strategy of pursuing Franco-German rapprochement and European unity by way of market integration. The ECSC was a stalking horse of European integration, it lead the way for the European Economic Community and Euratom, these came five years after the ECSC (Martin, 2006).

In 1955, an agreement towards a definitive step in European construction happened, in a Conference in Messina (Italy) Paul Henri Spaak and the foreign ministers of the six founding members met. This led to the 25th March 1957, where the six signed the Treaty of Rome that established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) (Ocaña, 2003).

The EEC meant that all the six member states who joined in the ECSC, this meant that all Six member states formed a Common Market, this meant that all restriction or internal trade were removed, and a common external tariff was set (reducing barriers to free movement of people).Euratom was aimed at creating a common market this time for atomic energy, but Euratom focused primarily on research and remained a junior actor in the process of integration (McCormick, 2002)

During the years, the EU enlarged from the founding six to twenty-eight countries. Treaties continued to change and act into force, with the latest one called the Lisbon Treaty that entered into force on 1st December 2009. With the enlargements happening, new administrative and financial burdens were created to service the new block. New measures were introduced to educate the EU citizen on how to face these new realities and situations, however, my cardinal opinion is still sceptical , i.e. I firmly believe that the laymen still don’t know the history of the EU. Dissemination of appropriate information to the ordinary EU citizens, as to our exact historical roots of European Integration, helps people to understand the purpose and the proper function of the EU. Thus, this is very important to create, a feel-good factor, so that the EU citizens will feel actually that they form a part of the European Union. An initiative that happens every year is ‘Europe Day’ on the 9th of May –in honour of the work done by Schuman towards a ‘United Europe’. The above can proof to be the essence that, we as citizens are an integral part of EU and we can pave the way to re-write history for generations to come.


[1] extract from the Schuman Declaration – 9 May 1950

[2] Walter Lipgens Professor of History at European University Institute in Florence from 1976-1979


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Titel: United Europe. The Initiators of Integration after the Second World War