Europe Day is little known. At least I have been invited once to speak at the occasion in would-be EU candidate member state Albania. (See my blog ’Europe Day in Tirana’) On that day – 9 May 1950 – on advice of Jean Monnet, ‘First Statesman of Interdependence’ (Duchêne, 1994) French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed that French and German steel and coal production be managed jointly. (Cohen 2012) No sooner the word was out, and governments demanded to be put in charge to oversee the experts involved.
What were Monnet and his French advisers with pre-war and war-time experiences thinking? France having been riddled with political rivalry had contributed to her defeat in 1940. Unsung, the Third Republic had made room for an authoritarian regime bearing the name of Vichy after the spa where it established itself in the –  just about, it, too, was occupied in 1942 – ‘free’ zone. The regime was supported by factions still rejecting a century-and-a-half after its creation la Republique. There was also the pre-war intellectual fervour – by no means only in France – of Christian thinking about a third way between capitalism and communism. Experts generally were also frustrated by pre-war politics, a feeling shared by the multitudes supporting Marshall Philippe Pétain heading the new regime. Eventually victorious – albeit with American and British assistance – De Gaulle’s puny ‘Free French’ forces abroad at the time had been a fringe phenomenon. (Gallo 1998)
Cohen discusses an elite training centre called Uriage with links to the Dominican order for functionaries of the new regime. With links to the fledgling Résistance, it came to an early end but discussions continued. Ravaged once more by party-politics, the post-war Fourth Republic continued to provide fertile grounds for dreaming about alternatives. Aloof from party politics as he was, Jean Monnet in charge of the Commissariat général du Plan pursued one such. He drew on actors in the field, including company bosses and the unions – Jacques Delors would later speak about the  forces vivres – advising on industrial recovery. But France depended on German coal delivered under an occupation regime which was however loosing ground when the Federal Republic was readmitted to the community of (Western) nations. This formed the backdrop to the Schuman Plan foreseeing in mutual cooperation.
Monnet’s advisors in formulating the plan came from pre-war and war-time movements propagating a guided economy. This chimed well with German pre-war, and even more so wartime thinking in terms of Großraumwirtschaft (Scheuplein 2009) – an economy unshackled by borders. That none of the spiritual fathers of the Schuman Plan savoured government involvement explains their – vain – resistance against what happened during the negotiations that followed. They had reason to complain: ‘What remains means nothing less than that the declaration of May 9, 1950 has for all intents and purposes disappeared’. (1) So much for celebrating Europe Day! In assuming responsibility, governments of course Neede to do no more than invoke their democratic mandates. ‘The issue of democracy is thus at the heart of the European construct…’, Cohen concludes. (2)Yes, but does this always mean elected governments being supreme?

(1) Il n’en rest pas moins que la décleration du 9 mai 1950 a bel et bien disparu. (Cohen 2012, 420)
(2) La question démocratique est donc bien au coeur de la construction européenne… (Op cit., 421)
Cohen, A. (2012) De Vichy à la communauté européenne, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris.
Duchêne, F. (1994) Jean Monnet: The First Statesman of Interdependence, W.W.Norton & Company, New York, London.
Gallo, M. (1998) De Gaulle 2: La solitude du combattant, Robert Lamont, Paris.
Scheuplein, Ch. (2009) ‘Wirtschaftliches Maximum, völkisches Optimun: Raumwirtschaftstheorie und -politiek bei Andreas Predöhl’, in: H. Mäding, W. Strubelt (Hsg.) Vom Dritten Reich zur Bundesrepublik, Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung, Hannover, 84-105.

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