The Crisis of the Nation-State in the Era of European Integration

Legal History, Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid, Spain


For amongst democratic nations each generation is a new people—Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859)1

(…) the situation in which Europe finds itself today is similar to that of twenty-six people of a dubious moral and intellectual level who are living in a very small space and armed to the teeth with toxic poisons, bombs, guns and daggers. All of those who have declined are seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of the others. Spurred by hatred and jealousy, the desire for revenge and envy, they engage in conspiracies, crafting weapons, training with them, and insulting each other, in public and in private, in the most offensive manner. For no price are they willing to renounce what they conceive, wrongly, as freedom. Thus, they prefer a system of absolute anarchy to any organization, determined to settle their opposing interests or their differences of opinion by means of duels or struggles before choosing the path of Justice.Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi (1894–1972)2

If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance, there would be no limit to the happiness, to the prosperity and glory which its three or four hundred million people would enjoy […] We must build a kind of United States of Europe.—Winston Churchill (1874–1965)3

And we know – God knows we know! – that there is a different conception of a European federation under which, in accord with the dreams of those who have conceived it, the countries would lose their national personality and in which … they would be governed by some technocratic, stateless and unaccountable Ares Rock.—Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970)4

Above all, we must love Europe; our Europe, sonorous with the roaring laughter of Rabelais, luminous with the smile of Erasmus, sparkling with the wit of Voltaire; in whose mental skies shine the fiery eyes of Dante, the clear eyes of Shakespeare, the serene eyes of Goethe, the tormented eyes of Dostoyevski; this Europe for whom La Gioconda forever smiles, where Moses and David spring to perennial life from Michelangelo’s marble, and Bach’s genius rises spontaneous to be caught in his intellectual geometry; where Hamlet seeks in thought the mystery of his inaction, and Faust seeks in action comfort for the void in his thought; where Don Juan seeks in women the woman never found, and Don Quixote, spear in hand, gallops to force reality to rise above itself; this Europe where Newton and Leibniz measure the infinitesimal, and whose Cathedrals, as Musset once wrote, pray on their knees in their robes of stone; where rivers, silver threads, link together strings of cities, jewels wrought in the crystal of space by the chisel of time . . . this Europe must be born. And she will, when Spaniards will say “our Chartres”, Englishmen “our Krakow”, Italians “our Copenhagen;” when Germans say “our Bruges”, and step back horrorstricken at the idea of laying murderous hands on it. Then will Europe live, for then it will be that the Spirit that leads History will have uttered the creative words: FIAT EUROPA!5—Salvador de Madariaga (1886–1978).

18.1 The Precedents for European Integration

We tend to think that Europe has been traditionally characterized by its diversity rather than its unity, and this conception is not entirely false. As we have seen, since the fall of Rome, the barbaric invasions, and the creation of the Germanic kingdoms, Europe has never truly been politically unified. Nevertheless, most of today’s European countries have a common past. We should not overlook or underestimate the fact that for long periods of their history Europeans have shared similar ideas and institutions.

In this book thus far, we have seen how over the course of their history European nations and states developed a particular system of public law based upon a common heritage, despite the diversity of the different nation-state models on the Continent. In this chapter, we shall see how prior to the post-War era Europe’s nation-states made different attempts at alliance, but with limited success, and only in specific geographical areas. It would not be not until after World War II that, for the first time in their history, European nation-states understood that they had to unite to survive in a global world. The problem was how to do so.

18.1.1 The Survival of the Universal Model

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the aspiration for European unity survived, to an extent. As we have seen, despite the formation of “national” kingdoms, following the Germanic invasions, popes, and emperors sought to uphold the idea that all Christendom—in this period essentially limited to modern-day Europe—formed a common community bound together by its faith.

Even if this conception was more theoretical than real because of the pronounced divisions inherent to feudalism, the idea of a universal empire controlled by the pope as head of the Catholic (universal) church and an emperor marked Europe until 1648. While there were a number of different kingdoms, their kings considered the emperor, and especially the Roman pontiff, a kind of spiritual or symbolic leader. Charles V (1519–1558) made the last notable attempt to unify the continent under the symbolic authority of the Holy Roman Empire. This universal idea of Europe had important consequences in the legal field, as from 1100 until 1800 Europeans shared a ius commune based on roman, canon and feudal law (Bellomo 1995, xi), a common jurisprudence studied in the different European universities, attended by students and staffed by professors from across the Continent, where instruction was carried out in Latin, the common language of the time.

Lutheran reform dashed the idea of a universal community and split Europe into two, pitting Catholics and Protestants against each other in a series of bloody religious wars, which ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia.6 From the perspective of constitutional history, the most important consequence of the Westphalia Treaty was that henceforward Europe became a set of competing states seeking to establish their ascendancy (Treasure 2003, 161–192). The ultimate result was that European history was marred by a succession of wars between the different European states. Spain lost the supremacy it gained with Philip II in 1559 through the Pyrenees Treaty (1659), while France’s decline began at Utrecht (1713), leading to the United Kingdom’s predominance as the leading European power until the end of World War I.

Despite the Westphalia Treaty, the universalist model was not entirely lost, enduring and shaping history as the institution of the state developed, drawing, as we have seen, a more or less continuous line that transformed Western public law, from the territorial monarchies of the Late Middle Ages, through the era of absolute monarchy, both classic and enlightened, until the consolidation of Britain’s parliamentary monarchy, the decline of absolutism and the triumph of the nation-state model, the American Revolution and France’s assembly-based republic, and the return of strong Executives in the form of the American presidential Republic and Napoleonic monarchy. Moreover, the Holy Roman Empire—German’s first Reich—was not officially abolished until the year 1806.

Even after the Holy Roman Empire disappeared, the imperial idea did not.7 Spain’s Philip II (1556–1598), meanwhile, though not elected emperor, came to head a “universal” monarchy claiming possessions all around the world, forming an entity that would be termed the “Spanish Empire”, which lasted until 1898. From 1804 to 1815, Napoleon ruled as “Emperor of the French”, as did his nephew Louis Napoleon, better known as Napoléon III (1852–1870). Queen Victoria (1837–1901), a symbol of the apogee of the British Empire, was formally the “Empress” of India, and even Bismarck, to avenge the humiliations which Napoleon had inflicted on the Prussians, founded in 1871 the German Empire (Deutsches Reich, or II Reich) precisely in the Palace of Versailles, imposing conditions on a defeated and humiliated France.8

Half a century later this destructive dynamic of revenge and resentment would spur the French, victorious in World War I, to humiliate the vanquished Germans at the Peace of Versailles, forcing them to sign a treaty in which they had had no say, and to do so (by no means coincidentally) at Versailles once again, in Louis XIV’s Hall of Mirrors. The Germans’ tragically inevitable revenge, of course, was meted out by Adolf Hitler who, defying the dictates of Versailles, built up the Third Reich in 1933, going on to lead a maniacal quest to crush France and establish a new German-led world order.

Precisely because this imperialist, nation-based model of Europe ended up generating a series of self-destructive wars, by the middle of the twentieth century, the need became clear for a framework that would unite its different nation-states and prevent any state from imposing itself upon all others. Though a united Europe for a long time proved impossible, it is worth noting there were some attempts to integrate different kingdoms into single entities. We have to remember the case of the “composite monarchies”: independent European kingdoms that had shared the same sovereign while maintaining their independence, their own laws, and political institutions, such as the United Kingdom, the Crown of Aragon, and the Spanish Catholic Monarchy. Far from being an isolated invention, this was actually quite a common formula of political organization in modern European history (Piña Homs 2007, 335).9

Also, worthy of note is the Swiss Confederation, a group of small states (cantons) that were able to retain their independence, remaining outside the Holy Roman Empire by forming a league. Composite monarchies and the Helvetic Confederation are interesting precedents of how independent states in European history were able to maintain their own legal and constitutional peculiarities while acting in concert with other states.

18.1.2 “Composite Monarchies” as a Prime Example of Unions of States in Europe

The transition from the feudal stage to the territorial monarchies of the Late Middle Ages was characterized, as we have seen, by kings’ efforts to amass the greatest possible expanses of land for their kingdoms. In some cases (Castile & León, for example), the territories ended up unified into a single political and legal entity. In others, however, each territory maintained its political and legal autonomy despite recognizing and respecting the same sovereign; these were composite monarchies.10

Such was the case with the Crown of Aragon, which annexed the kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia, Mallorca and the Principality of Catalonia, in addition to a series of Mediterranean territories like Sicily, Sardinia, Naples and Athens (Bisson 2002, 2). The same was true of Spain’s Catholic Monarchy which, in addition to its Iberian kingdoms, held the Crowns of Aragon and Castile (the latter including Navarre, the Canary Islands, the American colonies and a series of islands in the Pacific), and, as of 1580, Portugal and its entire colonial empire, claiming a number of territories across Europe, such as the Netherlands, the Franche-Comté, Luxembourg, and much of the Italian Peninsula (Naples, Sicily and Lombardy). From the Crown of Aragon to the Spanish Catholic Monarchy

The origin of the “Crown of Aragón” was the 1137 marriage between the Count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer IV, and Petronila, the daughter and heiress of Ramiro II of Aragon. This union enabled their son, Alfonso II of Aragon (1164–1196) to become both the King of Aragon and the Count of Barcelona. However, the Crown’s definitive structure would be set by Jaime I, who, after reconquering the Kingdom of Valencia in 1238, rather than distributing it between the Aragon and Catalonia, converted it into an independent Kingdom. This paved the way for the subsequent incorporation of the Kingdom of Sicily at the end of the thirteenth century, the Kingdom of Mallorca in the mid-fourteenth century, and the Kingdom of Naples in the first half of the fifteenth century, among other Mediterranean territories.

All these kingdoms conserved their “constitutional” and legal autonomy even while recognizing the same king. In this way, they formed a kind of “confederation of states”11 according to which the monarch was to respect the traditional privileges of each of the kingdoms and to convoke their respective estate-based assemblies, or cortes. The model was decidedly flexible and easily allowed for the incorporation of new states. It was, however, problematic in terms of facilitating effective and efficient government and administration. Montesquieu, for one, criticized the former Crown of Aragon’s constitutional practices that, according to him, needlessly wasted energies on “minutiae” and “vain efforts”.12

Despite this, the model of the Crown of Aragon applied to the Spanish monarchy13 was created by the Union of the Catholic Kings (1474–1504) Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon.14 Both ruled as monarchs of a whole conglomeration of territories forming a union of states under the “Catholic Monarchy”.15 This composite monarchy was also termed “Hispanic”, in reference to the Iberian Peninsula (Roman Hispania), the nerve center of all its domains, which Philip II recognized when he moved the royal court to Madrid in 1561, because it was the geographical center of the Peninsula.

By respecting the constitutional structure of the Crown of Aragon, the Catholic Monarchy was able to significantly enlarge its territorial holdings. The government and administration of this patchwork of territories was hindered, however, by its slow and complex institutional apparatus. The king was assisted by a number of councils (consejos), and the processes involved were labyrinthine. Affairs were handled even slower under kings like Philip II, who insisted on personally dealing with nearly everything.16 This system was inefficient, at best. One of the causes of the disaster of the Spanish Armada in 1588, was the slowness with which the massive, sluggish military apparatus of the Catholic Monarchy was put into action, as opposed to an England which, while much smaller, was infinitely more united and boasted a more effective government (Irigoin and Grafe 2008, 173–209).

In fact, the ineffectiveness of the Crown of Aragon’s composite model prompted the Catholic Monarchy to opt for a process of “Castillianization”, simply because Castile was an absolute state in which the king exercised undisputed power, a system that greatly facilitated decision-making. Thus, Philip V did not hesitate to seize upon the pretext of his victory against the Hispanic territories which had rebelled against him in the War of the Spanish Succession (1704–1714) to quash the “constitutional” singularity of the ancient kingdoms of the Crown of Aragon, subjecting them to a Castilian regime of government, which thereafter became a synonym for “Spanish”. In 1712, the king convoked the Assembly of Estates (Cortes) for the first time in Spanish history, which represented not only Castile but also all of Bourbon Spain (Kamen 2001, 82). By 1716, only Navarre and the Basque Country continued to enjoy special constitutional arrangements vis-à-vis the Spanish Monarchy, which both would keep until the end of the Carlist Wars, between 1839 and 1876 (Gunther et al. 2004, 45).

Spanish integration was reconsidered and came under attack at the end of the nineteenth century, with the resurgence of regionalist movements—mainly Catalonian and Basque—which took on a separatist dimension in the early twentieth century. During the Second Republic (1931–1936), there emerged the model of an “integral state” (estado integral) divided into “autonomous regions”. The Civil War gave way to the longstanding Franco dictatorship, which marked an emphatic return to the unitary state. With the “Transition” era and the ratification of the 1978 Constitution, Spain would give rise to a “State of Autonomous Regions”, which since 1996 has fomented a dynamic of regionalist separatism, especially in the Catalonian (Guibernau 2006, 216–224) and Basque (Jáuregui 2006, 239–257) territories, on which strains and threatens the country’s model of territorial integration, and has spawned unsustainable levels of public spending. Curiously, the European integration process has served as an effective deterrent against territorial disintegration.17

However, the Crown of Aragon and the Spanish Catholic Monarchy are not the only examples of composite monarchies in the European constitutional tradition. The English Crown, which brings together the United Kingdom of Great Britain, is yet another. The English Crown and the United Kingdom of Great Britain

In the medieval era, the kings of England became the dominant political force on the island of Great Britain, bringing the territories of Wales and Scotland under their power. Since 1301, the heir to the English throne has, significantly, received the title of “Prince of Wales”—despite the fact that the Welsh actually launched several revolts against English rule, and it was not until Henry VIII that the territory joined the English kingdom (Gower 2012, 147–164).18 The annexation of the Kingdom of Scotland was even more difficult, requiring numerous military campaigns, which met with fierce resistance by the Scottish.19 The formal union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland finally came about in 1603, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England after Elizabeth I died without leaving an heir. This union, however, was not legally consolidated until a century later, in 1706, with the signing of the Treaty of Union, ratified by the English and Scottish parliaments.20 Thus, on May 1, 1707 the Kingdom of Great Britain was born, adopting a flag featuring elements of those of England, Scotland and Wales.

The next step was the incorporation of Ireland, which took place a hundred years later. Although the green isle was conquered by England in 1691, the Kingdom of Ireland did not formally join the British Crown until the year 1800, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.21 This union would last a little more than a century, as at the end of World War I, in 1918, the victory in Ireland of the nationalist party Sinn Fein sparked armed conflict with England. This “War of Independence” (1919–1922) ended up dividing the country. After the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, Northern Ireland remained part of the entity, which became known as “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. This split continues to generate considerable tension between Unionist Northern Irish Protestants and independent Catholics, whose paramilitary organization, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), carries on with its struggle to unite the entire island.

Today the United Kingdom22 is a monarchy with a Parliament in London but with three decentralized administrations headquartered in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, the respective capitals of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 1997, under the “Scottish Devolution Referendum” 75 % of Scots voted in favor of the restoration of their own Parliament, in a demonstration of support that has forced the government in London to rethink the terms of Scottish integration into the United Kingdom. This led to the decentralization of the United Kingdom through the three 1998 Devolution Acts, which restructured the relationships between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Union (Wicks 2006, 167–193). In the case of Scotland this led, in addition, to a commitment to hold a referendum on independence.23

18.1.3 Assembly-Based Integration: The Singular Case of the Swiss Confederation Unus Pro Omnibus, Omnes Pro Uno

“All for one and one for all” is, in reality, the slogan of one of the unique countries in the world,24 a “nation” composed of several states that retain, even today, their political autonomy: the Swiss Confederation, better known as Switzerland. The country’s name comes from one of its founding cantons, Schwyz, whose flag served as a model for the Confederation’s current one, adopted at the end of the nineteenth century. From the point of view of constitutional history, the Swiss case is perhaps the only example of a political union of autonomous territories (cantons) effectively fused into a functioning confederation. From Its Beginnings to the Rütlischwur (The Rutli Oath, 1291)

It is ironic that Switzerland would not have existed had it not been for Roman invaders. If today there are still Swiss it is because Julius Cesar, as he recorded himself in his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, blocked an attempt by the “Helvetians” to abandon their mountainous lands en masse and settle in southern France. In fact, this early people went so far as to burn their own cities and initiate a mass emigration. In response, Caesar defeated them twice and forced them to return to their smoldering homes. The Roman leader, of course, did not act out of altruism, but rather viewed the Helvetians as a valuable buffer between Rome and the barbarian Germanic peoples to the north.25

The unique autonomy and independence of the Swiss is largely due to their mountainous terrain, featuring deep valleys, which has historically permitted them to withstand the pressure exerted by the larger states surrounding them, especially that of the Holy Roman Empire. Their national hero is William Tell, a legendary figure who may have lived between 1200 and 1300, and who stands as the symbol of Swiss freedom.26 It was then when Switzerland, taking advantage of the clashes between popes and emperors, and the fragmentation of feudal Europe, succeeded in forging an autonomy that was initially reflected in the pact signed by the representatives of the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden in Grutli Meadow, on the shores of Lake Lucerne, on August 1, 1291. The Strengthening of the Swiss Confederation

Since that time the union progressively absorbed other cantons, successively forming the Confederation of Eight Cantons (Acht Orte), the 13 cantons’ Old Swiss Confederacy (Eidgenossenschaft), and the ephemeral parenthesis of the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) formed after the invasion of the French Revolutionary Army, before finally reaching its current total of 26 cantons (the most recent, the Canton of Jura, was not incorporated until 1979).27

In this first confederal phase, each of the cantons was almost totally autonomous, with their own borders, currencies and armies. Despite theoretically forming part of the Holy German Roman Empire, each canton enjoyed de facto independence from it thanks to successive military victories obtained by the Swiss against foreign troops, from that scored at the Battle of Morgarten in 1315 against imperial soldiers, to their victories at Grandson and Morat over Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476 (which put an end to Burgundy’s independence), to their defeat of Maximilian, Charles V’s grandfather, in 1499. The Swiss, in fact, earned for themselves a reputation as Europe’s finest soldiers, spurring the leading European courts to hire them as mercenaries. Thus, for example, they defended Louis XVI and his family with their lives during the assault on the Palace of the Tuileries on August 10, 1792,28 and even today, the pope’s personal guard in the Vatican is Swiss.

The Swiss defeat against the French King François I at the Battle of Marignano (1515) and the success of the Reformation, which sparked religious conflicts between the cantons (Bruening 2005), certainly weakened the strength of the cantons. The Confederation, nevertheless, survived and finally received international recognition at the Peace of Westphalia (1648).29

Switzerland was last invaded by Napoleon, in 1798, in the course of his Italian Campaign against Austria. Paradoxically, this was an occupation which served to strengthen the Confederation through the formation of the vassal state (van Caenegem 2009, 241) called the Helvetian Republic, as Bonaparte incorporated into it the cantons of Vaud, Saint Gall, Grisons, Aargau, Thurgau and Ticino. Since this time, Switzerland has suffered no further invasions and has remained an essentially neutral country, avoiding participation in both World War I and World War II. Not even Hitler dared to invade it (Leitz 2000, 13–24). The Stage of the Federal State

The strictly “confederal” stage ended, however, in an especially fateful year in European history: 1848 (Humair 2009). Until then the cantons were completely independent, maintaining only temporary alliances between them. On occasion, these alliances were defensive and other times, offensive, such as that forged by the Canton of Bern in the sixteenth century. Bern’s imperialism, which was strongly consolidated in the eighteenth century,30 however, would end up setting off a revolt by the Catholic cantons in November of 1847, fought for separation from the others in the Sonderbund War (Sonderbundskrieg) (Andrey 1991, 263–265). The Protestant cantons prevailed, imposing the federal Constitution of September 12, 1848, which was partially revised in 1866.31 On May 29, 1874, the Confederation was given a new constitution that, among other innovations, introduced referendums as a standard instrument to provide for direct democracy (Zimmer 2007, 168). This constitution was ultimately replaced by the new Swiss Federal Constitution, adopted by the cantons on April 18, 1999 and which entered into force on January 1, 2000.32 The Most Democratic Country in the World?

Switzerland is a truly unique country, in many ways. It is one of the few “confederations” that works, consisting of 26 cantons and almost 3,000 municipalities. Since 1848, the Swiss Confederation has been a “federal state”. However, unlike the United States of America, for example, it lacks a strong executive power. It is essentially a state controlled by its legislative assembly, in which the most important powers are shared at the three territorial levels: local, canton and federal.33 There is an executive council consisting of seven federal councilors who take turns representing the federal government. The office of president is largely ceremonial, which is why almost no one can name the current Swiss president, a post that changes every year.

Of the three levels of government—local, cantonal and confederal—the least important is probably the latter, as the cantons and municipalities enjoy a great degree of autonomy. Thus, for example, the granting of Swiss nationality is decided by the municipalities rather than by the canton or the federal government.34 If one is not accepted by his neighbors, he simply cannot become Swiss. Taxes, on the other hand, are paid and distributed across the three levels. Income taxes are earmarked mainly for the municipalities, which have the authority to determine whether an aspiring immigrant is allowed to reside in them or not. The federal state is essentially sustained by customs duties. Although today its revenues have increased thanks to the creation of new taxes, it continues to be the least-funded stage of government. Each level of government features checks and balances. Thus, for example, at the city level there are councilmen who elect the mayor, who is overseen by a Communal Council that verifies and manages the accounts.35

Switzerland is also a country featuring a striking degree of “direct democracy”. Its eight million inhabitants (For the first quarter 2014, a permanent resident population of 8,160.9:6,208.9 Swiss, 1,952.0 foreigners, according to The Federal Statistical Office) are frequently consulted via referendums on a whole range of topics. Twenty thousand signatures are sufficient for the confederal government to be compelled to hold these votes, such that several are held every year. Participation is not very high (around 30 %) but this does not keep them from yielding decisions on matters of great importance.36

Switzerland, however, is also a country of contrasts. Despite its many progressive policies, it was the last European country to grant its women the vote, as they only gained the right to suffrage throughout the entire confederation, via a federal order, in 1971. At the canton level, it took even longer to grant women the vote, among other things because women themselves voted against it (in a 1959 referendum). Thus, for example, in the Apenzell Canton, the introduction of women’s suffrage did not come about until November 27, 1990 because of a ruling by the Federal Court (Charnley et al. 1998). Moreover, in some cantons voting is still carried out by a raise of hands. Switzerland is, without any doubt, a very special country,37 though it is changing as the result of the pressure exerted upon it by the European Union (Steiner 2001, 137–154).38

18.1.4 Westphalia’s Peace and the Triumph of the Europe of States

Despite the examples of integration offered by the composite monarchies and the Swiss Confederation, in 1648 Europe essentially became a continent made up of independent states beholden to no overarching power. This state of affairs led to a series of military confrontations as Europe’s nations vied for supremacy. Spanish hegemony gave way to French power after the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), and Louis XIV’s France was the premier power until the Treaty of Utrecht (1714). During the eighteenth century, the United Kingdom became the preeminent European power, though its loss in the American War of Independence (1783) came as a blow. The French Revolution, nevertheless, shook all of Europe as France stepped to the fore once again though its aggressive imperialism under the Convention, the Directory, and, of course, Napoleon.

18.1.5 Europe Between Imperialism and Coordination: 1789 to 1914

European politics were hit by a tidal wave in the form of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, whose new ideas, propagated through French imperialism, sent all of Ancien Régime Europe trembling. Napoleon transformed the map of European nations, creating some new states in old Europe, such as the Italian revolutionary Cisalpine and Ligurine Republics (1797), the Parthenopean Republic (1799), the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803), the Batavian Republic (1802–1806) in the Low Countries, in addition to the complete restructuring of Germany through the Final Recess (Reichsdeputationshauptschluss) of 1803 and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine—Rheinbund (1806–1813).39

For 25 years, the European balance of power was so heavily altered that Europe’s rulers convened at the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815), where they did their utmost to reestablish the Ancien Régime and restore the Continent’s old borders. Paradoxically, this effort, headed up by Austrian Chancellor Metternich, obliged European rulers to coordinate their efforts to prevent the possibility of revolution. As we have seen, Europe’s leaders, to quash revolutionary activities, resolved to sign alliances and act together, through the Holy Alliance—an effort that some scholars have considered a precedent of European integration (Phillips 2005). For almost 15 years a united Europe was implemented through the Metternich System, a period during which coordination replaced imperialism and the relationships between European nation-states were characterized by their stability (Sofka 2011, 33–80).

Conflicts between European nations flared up again, however, after the 1830 French Revolution. In the middle of the century, from 1853 to 1856, the Crimean War was waged, in which French and British imperial policy clashed with that of the Russian Empire. In 1859, the French and the Sardinian armies defeated the Austrians in Magenta and Solferino, opening up the way for Italian national integration. Then it was time for Bismarck’s Prussia, which defeated Austria at Sadowa (1866) and the French in 1870 (Franco-Prussian War). In this era thanks to colonial expansion the different European nation-states were rich enough to maintain powerful armies that enabled them to keep or increase their power at the world level through alliances, such as the Dual (1879) and Triple Alliance (1882) between Austria, the German Empire and the Ottoman Empire, versus the “Entente Cordiale” (1904) and the “Triple Entente” (1907) between France, the UK and Russia. This was, as we know, the “Armed Peace”, which led to the apocalyptic First World War.

The major European nation-states did not consider uniting when their power was at its peak.40 As their hegemonic stage came to an abrupt halt in 1918, however, some European leaders began to consider the possibility of a united Europe in which different states would act together instead of against each other.

18.2 The Idea of Europe from 1918 to 1939

18.2.1 Europe Lies in Ruins, at the Mercy of the United States and the Soviet Union

World War I was a cataclysm, which left the major European nations devastated. In 1914, the nations of Europe dominated the world, controlling 44 % of industrial production (edging out the U.S., with 38 %). Europe’s merchant marine fleet transported 79 % of sea traffic and controlled over 90 % of all capital invested in the world. It was still the golden age of colonialism and European interests prevailed on all the continents. The defeat of Germany, Austria and its allies was, to some extent, a Pyrrhic victory for the Allies, as all Europe, both the winners and the losers, had been laid waste. In 1914, their trade balance had been clearly in favor of the nations of the Continent, with the United States owing the various European states some 3 billion dollars. By 1918 the tables had turned, with the European states owing the U.S. federal government no less than 14 billion dollars. Almost five times more.41

Europe emerged not only surpassed by the United States, but also eclipsed by the power of Soviet Russia. Lenin, aware from the very outset that the new Soviet state would not be strong internationally if it could not incorporate its various neighboring states, appointed Comrade Stalin as People’s Commissar of Nationalities, thereby creating the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922, the only European force that could rival American power in the twentieth century.

18.2.2 The Resurgence of Nationalisms and Disunity in Europe

The decline of Europe’s nation-states could have been averted had their governments undertaken a policy of convergence. Instead, nationalism grew stronger than ever before and the tension between states was only exacerbated.

American President Woodrow Wilson, the primary architect of the Peace of Versailles (1919), and the author of the agreement’s famous Fourteen Points, believed that the new international order ought to be based on a strict respect for nationalities, which meant that, in his opinion, states should coincide with “nations”—in the sense of peoples or ethnic groups. To this end, at Versailles Wilson advanced the principle of “national” self-determination (Keene 2006, 26) to ensure that minorities were able to gain statehood—as in the cases of Ireland, Poland, and Czechoslovakia—or achieve internal autonomy within the framework of a multinational state—as happened with Flanders in Belgium and the reunification of Yugoslavia. The Allies expressed, therefore, their sympathies with the fate of historically oppressed ethnic groups and acted to guarantee the resurgence of the nation-state at a time when this structure was inoperative at the global level, and a union of European states was indispensable for Europe to maintain its clout in the new world yielded by World War I.

The upshot of Wilson’s idea was that all those nations that were not independent states in 1914, obtained statehood after the collapse of Germany and the disintegration of Austria–Hungary in 1919. Consequently, the map of Central Europe became considerably more complicated—and volatile. This policy of state creation did not only fail to resolve the problems, but in many cases actually aggravated them. Thus, for example the new Yugoslavia was established favoring the Serb majority, to the detriment of the Croats. Independence, thus, progressively heightened tensions and conflict between Belgrade and Zagreb until the head of the Croatian Peasant Party was assassinated during a session of the central Parliament.42 The same dynamic was repeated with the government in Prague, which was strongly supported only by the Czechs, who represented just half of the population under the new state, the other half being made up of Slovaks, Germans from the Sudetenland, Ruthenians and Hungarians (Slapnicka 1993, 173–197). Thus, the reorganization of central Europe in the wake of World War I created a precarious and unstable concoction that would lead to deadly strife later in the century.

Another consequence of the implementation of the nationalities principle in Europe was the secession of Ireland from the United Kingdom. In January of 1919, Ireland declared independence from the United Kingdom unilaterally, giving rise to the Irish Republic. After a 2-year war of independence, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on December 6, 1921, and a year later, the entire island became a self-governing British dominion: the Irish Free State, a constitutional monarchy under the British crown.43 The IFS featured a governor-general, a bicameral parliament, a cabinet called the “Executive Council” and a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council. A portion of the Irish people, led by Eamon de Valera, refused to accept the treaty and began a civil war (1922–1923) against pro-treaty (Free State) forces, led by Michael Collins, which, with British aid, won the war.44 The Irish Free State, however, ultimately ended when Irish citizens voted via referendum for a new constitution in 1937, which created the new state of Ireland (Eire), virtually independent from the United Kingdom but still theoretically under the authority of the British Crown. This arrangement lasted until the new state seceded from the Commonwealth (Mansergh 1997, 170) through the Republic of Ireland Act of 1948, which came into force on April 18, 1949. The situation had been further complicated by the secession of Northern Ireland from the Irish Free State in 1921, creating a separate territory still technically forming part of the United Kingdom. Through the 1960s the Provisional IRA led a war aimed at overturning British rule in Northern Ireland. The conflict between Nationalists and Unionists did not end until April 10, 1998, with the Belfast Agreement (Aughey 2005, 81–97), which set in motion a process of disarmament culminating in the Provisional IRA’s decommissioning of its weapons in July of 2005. Under the Northern Ireland Act (November 19, 1998), Northern Ireland has (since 2007) an elected first minister and a deputy first minister so that power may be shared by the leaders of the two main parties: the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein (Barnett 2002, 366–367).

With the settlement of the Irish question nationalist movements did not disappear in Europe, as some minorities, even during the present era of European integration, still clamor for the partitioning of their countries and the foundation of new nation-states based on ethnic and cultural affinities and purported rights to political independence, in some cases triggering dreadful civil wars. Fresh in the minds of Europeans are the atrocities of the Bosnian War (1992–1995). Ongoing struggles and demands by certain regions and peoples for autonomy continue to form part of Europe’s constitutional history (Keating 2001, 19–43) as is the case in Belgium, with its Wallon and Flemish communities; in Spain, where separatist movements endure in the Basque Country and Catalonia; and in the United Kingdom, with Scotland.

18.2.3 Some Attempts at Integration

Despite the resurgence of militant nationalism,45 it must be said that there were also farsighted and commendable attempts to curb these excesses and promote a policy of European integration. The Pan-European Movement of R. Coudenhove-Kalergi (1923)

The first general movement aimed at integrating the nations of Europe was opened by the work of Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, who in 1923 published a book that made a major impact and was widely circulated, in part because of its striking title: Pan-Europe (Coudenhove-Kalergi 1926). In it, he defended a union of European states to prevent the nations of the Continent from succumbing to either Russian Bolshevism or American economic domination. Above all, he argued that union was the only way for Europe to maintain its influence around the world.

It is significant that Coudenhove-Kalergi’s proposal omitted Russia and the U.K. In the first case, because the Russian Revolution had marked a break with the European states’ democratic system, making the Soviet Union “a Eurasian world power”. As for the U.K., Coudenhove held that after World War I the United Kingdom had transformed its internal structure to evolve from a European kingdom with colonies to a “federal intercontinental” regime.

The question of the structure of the United States of Europe, which Coudenhove-Kalergi advocated, was still one to be settled. The author of Pan-Europe was aware of the resurgence of nationalism in Europe after 1919 and, therefore, considered it unrealistic to expect all Europe’s nation-states, especially its most recent ones, to accept the authority of a federal government. For this reason, he advocated a formula that respected the sovereignty of nation states, in line with that adopted by the Pan-American Union, which at its conference in Santiago (Chile) in 1922 seemed to have managed to reconcile national independence with an effort at regional international cooperation. Coudenhove-Kalergi wished to extrapolate Pan Americanism to Europe and constitute a “Pan-European” authority equipped with a Council consisting of delegates from different states, an assembly of delegates from the different parliaments, and a court of justice (Prettenthaler-Ziegerhofer 2012, 89–110). In this way, Pan-Europe was to serve as one of the world’s regional organizations, one of the five major spheres on the globe, along with the American, British, Russian and Far Eastern, led by Japan.

Coudenhove-Kalergi knew that after the Great War, when public opinion was charged with strongly nationalist sentiment, his project would not attract the European masses. In fact, the Pan-European idea never took hold with the people—except perhaps in central Europe, particularly in Austria and Germany, where public opinion saw in it a way of overcoming the consequences of defeat. Coudenhove-Kalergi, therefore, decided to make his appeal to the ruling classes: parliamentarians and businessmen.46 Attempts at Economic Union

The growth of nationalism following the signing of the Peace of Versailles had important economic consequences, as the multiplication of European borders and the brash self-interest with which the new states sought to consolidate their national economies generally spawned a resurgence of aggressively protectionist policies. This trend was all the more regrettable given that the Continent’s economy as a whole was in clear decline, and only the union of markets and the abandonment of customs duties and restrictions would have made possible Europe’s revival in the international economic arena.

Some of Europe’s most dynamic employers, very impressed by the United States’ enormous economic power by the beginning of the 1920s, however, began to back the creation of a massive European-wide market as a means of favoring the growth of industrial production and lowering the prices of manufactured goods. Hence, two types of initiatives emerged: the establishment of customs unions, such as that led by Prussia in the mid-nineteenth century (Zollverein), and the development of international production agreements.

Among the first mention must be made of the European Customs Union, established in 1926 (Lipgens 1984, 6), initially chaired by economist Charles Gide, and later by Yves Le Trocquer.47 French fears of Germany’s industrial power, however, ended up dashing the project. Efforts were also made to encourage the signing of international agreements between producers, which was a very widespread and common practice. It was during this period when the first major intra-European economic accords were signed, including the industrial agreements that the French and German governments sought to sign between the century’s world wars to solve the problem of war reparations.48

These ideas were never brought to fruition because of the outbreak of the Great Depression (1929) and Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. However, during the 1920s, these concepts and proposals did affect the thinking of an elite group of politicians and senior international officials who supported inter-state dialogue as a means of addressing the problems afflicting Europe. Hence, the Pan-European idea was very well received in intellectual circles and media. Intellectual Pan-Europeanism

In addition to politicians, economists, and businessmen, the Pan-European idea was generally embraced with enthusiasm by a whole series of leading European intellectuals during the interwar period. Coudenhove-Kalergi, for example, was supported by Paul Valéry, Paul Claudel, Rainer María Rilke, Thomas Mann, Salvador de Madariaga and Miguel de Unamuno, among others. Thanks to them, until the mid-1930s, there was an intense intellectual movement in favor of a united Europe, which resulted in the publication of influential books calling for European integration.49

Due to the movement set in motion by Coudenhove-Kalergi, the idea of a European union was no longer monopolized by prophets, dreamers, and theorists, as it had been historically, but became a concept enjoying wide support amongst the European ruling classes. Thus, despite not having made major headway in terms of public opinion, European integration advocates came to form interest groups featuring study committees turning out reports with the hope that a government would take the first step towards an alliance. Briand’s Proposal for a European Union (1929)

Government initiatives in favor of European unification, however, took time to materialize.50 The trailblazer in this respect was Aristides Briand, France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs as of 1925, and Honorary President of the Pan-European Union as of 1927 (Wright 2005, 31–67). In 1929, he rose to head the French Government, at which time he seized the opportunity to present his proposal for European integration.51

Briand soon realized that the League of Nations was an instrument incapable of ensuring the peace, and considered it more pragmatic to back Franco-German political rapprochement within the framework of a united Europe. To this end, after he enjoyed the assistance of his German counterpart Gustav Stresemann, he made public his plans for a united Europe in a speech delivered on September 5, 1929, on the League of Nations’ fall meeting (Bellon 2009, 87–104). In it, he defended the advisability of establishing a link between Europe’s states that would enable them to deal with serious circumstances together given the need to do so. His proposal was not well-received by European leaders.52 Nevertheless, the delegates of 26 European nations present at the September meeting of the League of Nations asked Briand to draft a memorandum expanding and fleshing out his ideas. This document was finally published in May of 1930 (Doerr 1998, 115), although it did not enthuse anybody because he stressed political unification rather than economic union—which was understandable, however, given the fact that it was written after the outbreak of the Wall Street Crash in October, leading directly to the Great Depression. In response to the proposal’s rejection, he watered down his proposals in a report dated September 1, 1930, endorsing not the creation of special bodies to achieve political union, but simply the meeting of a Study Commission in the interest of “European union”.53

Despite all this, it is evident that the initiative was a failure. The governments of the various European states were unwilling to cede one bit of their sovereignty, and most of their leaders were either indifferent or opposed to the idea of European union—in large measure because for each of them European unification meant something different. For the victorious states, integration was to be a means of consolidating the European order arising from the Treaty of Versailles. The defeated countries, on the other hand, were willing to participate in a European unification project only if said treaty was revised. However, the decisive development was the radical political change that occurred in Germany after the death of Gustav Stresemann in October 1929, and the electoral victory of the Nazi Party in 1930.

In any case, the Depression dissolved the European euphoria of 1926 and 1927 and shifted the priorities of most European states, which abandoned any support for a united Europe. In fact, the prevailing trend was just the opposite: over the course of the 1930s, Europe’s economic fragmentation tended to accentuate because of increased customs duties, the establishment of exchange controls, and the consolidation of autarchic economies in general. To make matters worse, the League of Nations failed to keep new hostile blocs from arising in Europe. In 1935, a Franco-Soviet Pact was signed to consolidate the strategic alliances established by France with Poland and Czechoslovakia (Jordan 2002, 39). To counter this alliance the Rome–Berlin Axis would emerge in 1936. In the end, the Soviet Union switched sides after the signing of the 1939 German–Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. The resurgence of nationalism would lead to a gradual increase in international tensions, dragging Europe into World War II.

18.3 European Integration During World War II

The outbreak of World War II did not put an end to attempts at integration, though, because of the conflict, these took other forms.

18.3.1 The Franco-British Union (June 1940)

The beginning of the war almost brought about an unexpected union that would have been inconceivable during a period of peace: the merging of historic rivals France and the United Kingdom into a single state. Initially, the project was only of a theoretical nature, but starting on March 28, 1940, it seemed to be materializing when the French and British governments mutually pledged not to negotiate a separate armistice and to maintain, after the peace, a joint effort aimed at reconstruction. On June 16, 1940, the British government proposed the constitution of a Franco-British union to the French government.54

Churchill, with De Gaulle at his side, even phoned French President Paul Reynaud to convey London’s proposal to him (Diamond 2007, 100). The call, however, came too late, as Reynaud finally decided to resign and the new President of the Republic, Albert Lebrun, had entrusted the task of forming a government to Marshal Pétain, a strong supporter of signing an armistice. The would-be Franco-British union became but a historical curiosity.55

18.3.2 Hitlerian Europe

It is well known that Hitler managed to militarily dominate most of the Continent in the early years of World War II. It is less clear, however, whether at any point he seriously considered European unity.

On the one hand, it seems that in Mein Kampf, he makes it clear that the only important thing for him was the supremacy of the Aryan race and its need to expand its living space (Lebensraum), essentially eastward. Thus, it is not surprising that Hitler originally did not have the creation of a united Europe in mind.56 It was only as German domination spread throughout Europe, and especially after the start of the war against Russia (June 1941), that he began to conceive the idea of placing the entire Continent under the Third Reich.57 To bring about this Great Germany Hitler acted to install satellite and puppet regimes in neighboring nations, with governments willing to do Germany’s bidding.

The idea of organizing a united Europe according to the fascist or National Socialist model had already been advanced by the likes of Carl Schmitt,58 whose ideas were taken up by Joseph Goebbels, who saw to it that they were disseminated by his official propaganda apparatus. Goebbels proposed forming a European Lebensraum that would encompass “White Russia” and the Ukraine, territories whose occupation he considered indispensable to Europe’s provisioning. In total the Third Reich aimed to occupy some 6 million km2, home to 450 million people, aiming at constituting an anti-Bolshevik Europe under what came to be called the “New Order”.59

The first step was the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) in March of 1938. In the absence of any resistance by the Allies, Hitler moved to also annex the Sudetenland region, the northwestern part of Czechoslovakia, where the majority of the population was German-speaking, at which point Europe teetered on the brink of war. The leaders of France (Daladier) and the United Kingdom (Chamberlain), however, met with Hitler and Mussolini in Munich and accepted the situation in September 1938 (Hildebrand 1973, 65–73). War seemed to have been averted (Weinberg 2010, 526–638).

For Nazi leaders the integration of European was to be forged not through the creation of federal institutions, but by way of ensuring that the Continent’s different political regimes embraced their peculiar political philosophy.60 This vision of the Europe of the New Order was shared by collaborationist elements, motivated by their extreme anti-communism, and the governments of German satellite regimes (such as Vichy France, headed by Marshall Pétain), theoretically independent (Chopra 1974, 4–6).61 In other cases, as in the case of Franco’s Spain, for example, support for integration came only in the form of armed divisions sent to fight on the Russian front, such as the Spanish Blue Division, commanded by General Agustín Muñoz Grandes (Payne 2008, 160–161).62

Most Europeans, however, wanted nothing to do with this anti-Bolshevik, German, racist and totalitarian “new Europe”, organizing, and supporting resistance movements to defy Nazi Germany and its allies.

18.3.3 The “Integrationist” Idea in Anti-Hitlerian Europe The Resistance and the “United States of Europe”

The anti-Nazi resistance was from the beginning much more amenable to the idea of a united Europe (Mommsen 2003, 246–259).63 In June of 1941, a handful of antifascist prisoners on the island of Ventotene, led by Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi, released a manifesto (the Ventotene Manifesto) in favor of a European federation (Spinelli and Rossi 2006). After Mussolini’s fall, the initiative resulted in the creation of the European Federalist Movement.64 Towards a Federal Europe?

In general, in those countries not occupied by the Nazis there arose movements receptive to European federalism. In Britain, there appeared the “Federal Union” movement, which endorsed a worldwide form of federalism. Also, in 1942 Coudenhove-Kalergi founded a research institute at the University of New York (Prettenthaler-Ziegerhofer 2012, 100) to establish a European federation after the war, and convened a pan-European congress made up of politicians in exile. His activities were widely reported by the American and European press, allowing for the broad dissemination of pan-European ideas. Governments in Exile and European Integration

These movements translated into political action, as most governments in exile, whose countries had been occupied by Hitler, set about laying the foundations for the organization of Europe once a peace had been signed. The Belgians and the Dutch began to negotiate the terms of a future customs union, the Greeks and Yugoslavs managed to sign a cooperation agreement, and the Poles and Czechs founded a “Coordinating Committee”. Most importantly, it was during this time and against this backdrop that there emerged the first major proponents of European integration, leading to the first real union of European states: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.65 The Benelux Is Formed

Negotiations were held with the aim of initiating a process of European integration in the year 1942, but they were discontinued in 1943 because, on the one hand, Soviet authorities were opposed to any incorporation of Central European countries not under Soviet control, and, on the other, the countries of northern Europe rejected any proposal for a union without Great Britain’s participation. In the end, the only positive result of all of these attempts was an agreement signed between Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to establish a customs and economic union, created on September 5, 1944: the Benelux (Harryvan 2009, 69–98) The Tepid Europeanism of Free France

The French Committee of National Liberation (CFLN) was also concerned about how Europe would be organized after the war. In France, the project of European integration was spearheaded by Jean Monnet who, after having launched the “Victory Program” in the United States to bolster the development of the American arms industry, became the commissioner for the provisioning and armament of the CFLN. Monnet managed for René Mayer, a senior official who worked with him at the CFLN’s provisioning service, to send a note to General de Gaulle on September 30, 1944, in which he specifically proposed to the leader of free France the creation of a “Federation of Western Europe”. General de Gaulle was willing to study the proposal, but his advisers were not enthusiastic about the prospect of integrating free France into a coherent European Union project. In the end, on March 18, 1944, before the Consultative Assembly of Algiers, De Gaulle presented the CFLN’s official position, one of timid support for the integration of Western Europe (Chopra 1974, 8–12; Warlouzet 2011, 419–434).

The initiative would fail, however, because of the strong opposition put up by Soviet authorities to any such western alliance, and because De Gaulle thought he needed Moscow to counterbalance the growing power of the Anglo-Saxon bloc. In fact, the leader of free France traveled to Russia on December 10, 1944, to sign a Franco-Soviet alliance with Stalin (Reynolds 1994, 99). Churchill as an Early Champion of European Unity

In the end, however, France was unable to play a key role in the reconstruction of the world order because it was excluded from the crucial post-war conferences at Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam, where the only Western European power present was the United Kingdom, represented by Churchill.

The main concerns of Britain’s then prime minister were maintaining the cohesion of the Commonwealth and strengthening the tight relations between Great Britain and the United States (Harbutt 2010, 284–288). However, Churchill was sympathetic to the idea of a European alliance because he feared that a political vacuum might be created when American troops left the European continent, ripe for exploitation by the Soviets to expand their sphere of influence.66

At his successive meetings with Roosevelt and Stalin Churchill proposed the creation of three international councils: one for the Americas, one for Europe and a third for Asia. His proposition met with American opposition, however, as Roosevelt believed that the terms of the peace ought to be determined by the two great superpowers of the time: the Soviet Union and the United States. Roosevelt was convinced that a European Council without the United States would encourage American isolationism, and that France’s weakness would lead to a Europe dominated by Britain, which would worry the Soviet Union and jeopardize world peace. This is why the ailing U.S. President (who would die just 2 months after the Yalta Conference) acquiesced to Stalin’s views on Eastern Europe.67

Roosevelt’s notion of a world split between two areas of influence would eventually prevail, as Europe was, unfortunately, torn in two, with Western Europe under American influence and Eastern Europe under Soviet power. It is true that at the Yalta Conference (February 4–11, 1945), Roosevelt and Churchill managed to convince Stalin to sign the “Declaration of Liberated Europe”, which provided for the establishment of democratic governments by way of free elections for all nations previously under German control (Miscamble 2007, 66). The countries of Western Europe, however, lacked the capacity to ensure respect for the democratic principle in Eastern Europe, which led to the falling of the “Iron Curtain”, a figurative barrier which would divide Europe until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (Muller 1999).

18.4 European Integration During the Post-War Period (1945–1949)

18.4.1 Europe in 1945

Hitler was ultimately not defeated by the heart of Europe, but by the two new superpowers lying east and west of it: Russia and the United States, which met to discuss the new international order to be established after the end of World War II. Europe was once again universally ravaged by war: those regimes which had been conquered by the Third Reich, those which had collaborated with it, and those which struggled to resist it, particularly the United Kingdom, which had tenaciously defended itself. In any case, by 1945 Europe was the great loser, left bankrupt and buried in the devastation of the conflict (Judt 2007, 13–40)—literally, as much of Europe’s cities had been reduced to rubble by massive bombing raids. The most disturbing example in England was Coventry, while in Germany it was the city of Dresden, totally destroyed by four consecutive bombing runs carried out between February 13 and 15, 1945, which left over 30,000 dead.68

For the formerly all-powerful Europeans the problem was now survival. Italy, which had become a republic, was completely impoverished, and the maps of Germany and Austria were mangled. France had been laid waste, and the United Kingdom, no longer a great power, began to dismantle its empire with the foundation of the “Commonwealth”, a community by virtue of which its former colonies became independent states while maintaining a symbolic allegiance to the British Crown69—a fact which may explain why in 1946, Churchill supported the creation of a United States of Europe in his aforementioned speech at the University of Zurich.70 The Dollar Gap

The top priority was reconstruction. This is why the first thing the Americans did after the end of World War II was to provide Europe with material and financial aid. The funds provided, however, quickly evaporated given the dire needs of the devastated Continent. In 1947, the exorbitant amount of 11.5 billion dollars practically disappeared, in what is known as the era of the “dollar gap” (Erhard 2006, 181–182). The Marshall Plan (1947)

President Truman’s advisors soon came to the conclusion that a change in strategy was needed. The United States was willing to facilitate Europe’s overall reconstruction, but not that of each state individually (Jackson 1979, 1043–1068). This was the gist of a speech given by Secretary of State George Marshall on June 5, 1947, at Harvard University, in which he stated that:

It is already evident that, before the United States Government can proceed much further in its efforts to alleviate the situation and help start the European world on its way to recovery, there must be some agreement among the countries of Europe as to the requirements of the situation and the part those countries themselves will take in order to give proper effect to whatever action might be undertaken by this Government. It would be neither fitting nor efficacious for this Government to undertake to draw up unilaterally a program designed to place Europe on its feet economically. This is the business of the Europeans. The initiative, I think, must come from Europe. The role of this country should consist of friendly aid in the drafting of a European program and of later support of such a program so far as it may be practical for us to do so. The program should be a joint one, agreed to by a number, if not all European nations.71

To channel this aid, two organizations were created: the European Recovery Program (ERP) and the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), the former an American agency, and the latter European. Marshall’s efforts did not constitute full integration, and by no means did they endorse “supranational” institutions. However, thanks to the OEEC (today’s OECD) ministers from different countries ceased to deal with their national problems as something confidential that did not impact their neighboring nations, and progressed in the establishment of priorities through negotiations, as the intention was for aid to be used by the European countries in a coordinated way rather than be allocated individually to specific countries for particular purposes (Milward 2013, 56). The implementation of the Marshall Plan also had the institutional result of creating the “European Payments Union” which imposed a common monetary policy (Bozyk 2006, 154). The most important shift, however, was that public opinion and the positions of the governments of the various European states began to move towards the idea of European cooperation and alliances (Geiger 1999, 23–41).72

Another pivotal consequence of the Marshall Plan was that, because it was utterly rejected and opposed by Stalin, it was instrumental in cutting off Eastern Europe, occupied by Soviet troops, from Western Europe. Eastern Europe Splits Off

The Allies originally thought that military cooperation had softened Stalin’s communism. Soviet Russia took advantage of the West’s naiveté in this regard to extend its tentacles across Eastern Europe, which Stalin was determined to seize for Russia. Truly paradoxical is the fact that Stalinism continued to enjoy good press and favor in European public opinion, a striking circumstance which allowed the communists to enjoy significant electoral success throughout postwar Western Europe. In France the 1945 legislative elections were won by the communists, who obtained 25 % of the votes; in Italy, after the proclamation of the Republic, Christian Democrat Alcide De Gasperi governed in coalition with communists and socialists; in Germany, the first political party authorized by the Allied occupation forces was the Communist Party (KPD); Churchill was defeated by the Labour Party, led by Clement Attlee; and the Communist Party of Great Britain had two members of Parliament. The triumph of leftist parties in post-war Europe seemed certain73 until George Marshall appeared and announced that he had a plan to rebuild Europe.

Stalin, however, thoroughly opposed the plan (Grogin 2001, 117) while Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and, one by one, the countries of Eastern Europe fell behind the “Iron Curtain”. Russia administrated all of them after the replacement of Lenin’s old Comintern with the Cominform, an association of various national communist parties led by the CPSU, founded by Stalin in June of 1947. The lone exception was Yugoslavia, where partisan leader and communist Marshall Tito managed for his Balkan Federation, based on the independence and equality of its peoples (“within the framework of the principles stated in the Charter of the United Nations”) to evade Soviet domination thanks to the unanimous support of Yugoslavia’s Communists (Belgrade Conference).74 Germany Splits and Spurs European Integration

The quintessential symbol of Europe’s prostration to foreign powers after the end of World War II was undoubtedly Germany, a defeated and decimated nation divided (at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences) by the Allies into four zones, controlled by the Russians, Americans, British, and French. This division became twofold when the German territory controlled by the Soviets was transformed into a “popular democracy” to differentiate it from the other three areas controlled by the western Allies, which fully benefitted from the Marshall Plan (Parish 1997, 268–290). Thus, the western Allies decided to merge the three zones—American, English, and French—into one. On June 20, 1948 the Allies, as we know, approved the revaluation of the Deutschmark that replaced the worthless Reichsmark and launched the German Economic Miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) (Loedel 1999, 2).75

In response, Stalin imposed an “Eastern Deutschmark” throughout Berlin and a blockade of the areas of the capital controlled by western forces. The Allies responded, beginning on June 26, 1948, by organizing the famous “Berlin Airlift” to provision western Berlin (Miller 2000). The Soviet blockade would not cease until May 21, 1949. The border between the two areas would be relatively permeable until the construction of the Berlin Wall which, beginning on August 13, 1961, became the ultimate symbol of the new state of things (Landsman 2005, 173–207) one that would stand for nearly 30 years.76

The dismantling of Germany by the Allies after the end of the war resulted in the country’s total economic collapse. The Germans struggled just to survive in their wasted land, wallowing amidst the ruins. Epidemics ravaged the population. In 1947 the number of TB patients far surpassed the number of available hospital beds.77 Under these dire circumstances the Allies faced a dilemma. On the one hand it was unacceptable to abandon Germany to its fate, but, on the other, they had to do their utmost to prevent the resurgence of German nationalism (Lewkowicz 2010, 15–36). The only solution was for Germany to be brought into a process of European integration. The question of German resurgence thus became the main engine and spur for a European alliance.

18.4.2 A First, Unsuccessful Attempt at Integration: The Congress of The Hague (1948), and the Failure to Form a Federal Europe

As a preliminary step it was necessary to decide the path to be followed to achieve integration.78 A portion of the European public opinion, the federalists, wished to move directly towards a federal political union, similar to that of the United States of America.79 Another camp, the statists, preferred a model based on intergovernmental cooperation in which states would retain their independence and autonomy, and decisions would be made by way of negotiations between them.80

A European “Congress” met on May 8, 1948 in The Hague (Netherlands). The European federalists, to insure reconciliation and reconstruction, called for the creation of an economic and political union (Moschonas 1996, 15). The problem was that the European Congress was not attended by representatives of Europe’s states, but rather a host of members of various federalist movements from all different corners of European society: political (the German delegation was headed by Konrad Adenauer, and were also present notorious figures as Churchill, Schuman or Spaak), social, economic, cultural, intellectual and artistic (Reinfeld 2009, 287–298). None of the 800 participants, however, had the power to actually commit their states to any agreements. It was, essentially, a gathering of representatives from different political parties and other European democratic groups interested in the reemergence of the Old Continent on the international scene (Samaniego Boneu 2009, 52).81

Churchill underscored the euphoria of the “atmosphere” which imbued “this historic gathering” and the participants’ enthusiasm led to some gushing overstatements by those who defined the Congress as a new “Tennis Court Oath” or the “Saint Bartholomew’s Day for national sovereignty” (Larres 2002, 144–145). In reality the Congress of The Hague was a loud yet fruitless forum in which two postures clashed: the federalists wanted to choose a “representative assembly” to establish a federal European state, while the statists, led by the British delegation, were only willing to endorse an assembly of fundamentally autonomous states, such as the framework of the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation (1777–1787) government.82

The attendees sought to reach a compromise. The federalists got their Representative Assembly, while the statists got a Council of Ministers, the embryo of a European executive power. Together the institutions formed the Council of Europe, a body established on May 5, 1949, a year after the opening of the Congress of The Hague (Dedman 2010, 14–29).

An Assembly of 87 deputies was elected, in which large states had more representatives, with seating in alphabetical order. The Assembly, however, was invariably overpowered by the Council of Ministers, which exercised all power because of Britain’s emphatic opposition to the Council of Europe serving as anything more than a meeting of representatives from states seeking intergovernmental cooperation.83

By early 1950, the federal formula had failed to achieve the objective of European integration. The Council of Europe, however, did not disappear, and ended up establishing itself as a Human Rights Tribunal after the signing of the European Convention for the Protection of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Rome on November 4, 1950. This agreement would come into force in 1953, since which time states may be legally reported to the Tribunal of the Council of Europe based in Strasbourg for human rights violations. Its rulings constituted since the beginning a moral reference point in the defense of fundamental freedoms and the consolidation of democracy, and are binding since December 1, 2009. In any case, they have progressively informed the acquis communautaire and laws of the member states.84

Another result of The Hague Congress was the foundation of the College of Europe, in Bruges (Belgium), an institution dedicated to educating “European elites” which continues to fulfill this mission today.85

18.5 Step by Step Integration: The Invention of the “Community Method” (1950)

18.5.1 The Pioneers: Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman

After the failure of the federal formula some “integrationists” sought a solution so that, despite British opposition, the principle of supranationality would prevail, at least in certain areas. The key players behind this partial solution were two Frenchmen: Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman. The Dazzling Career of Jean Monnet

Jean Monnet (1888–1979) never went to college. He was not a theorist, but a pragmatist. His father was a businessman who frequently travelled with his son to London, and especially the United States. As a result he developed an international spirit and extensive experience in business negotiations. However, Monnet would go down in history thanks to his achievements in the field of international politics.

It all started in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I. Monnet was 26 years old and exempted from military service for health reasons. Though he never fought he did participate in the war in a decisive way. His constant travels between France and England allowed him to observe how troops and military material were transported from Britain to the Continent. A lucid Monnet realized that there was a total lack of coordination between the French and British fleets, and conceived the idea for all transport operations to be run jointly. Monnet was bold, not hesitating to request an appointment with the President of the French Republic, Raymond Poincaré, who he managed to convince to create the Inter-Allied Maritime Transport Council, with full powers to organize the transport of troops and supplies (Fransen 2006, 23–27). The initiative was a resounding success, and contributed decisively to tipping the balance in favor of the Allies during the last months of the war. Jean Monnet proved to everyone that organization was the key to victory.

Monnet’s success earned him a special prestige in the international arena, which led to him being appointed Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations (Dûchene 1994, 41). Monnet had little interest in titles and honors, however. When he concluded that the League of Nations was ineffectual because the sovereign states were unwilling to subject themselves to the principle of supranationality, he resigned from his post in 1923 and returned home to take over the family business.86

He took an interest in international politics again in 1936 when he realized that Hitler was bent on another war. It was then when he decided to make every effort to keep the democratic nations from being defeated by totalitarianism. Statesmen continued to rely on him. In 1938 France’s Prime Minister Edouard Daladier asked him to secretly buy warplanes from the United States (Fransen 2006, 68). This was a prickly task because the U.S. government’s Neutrality Act prohibited the sale of weapons to any belligerent nation. Monnet, however, convinced Roosevelt not only to allow the sale of the planes, but also to make him part of the president’s brain trust, thereby making the Frenchman the most influential European in the United States.

However, Monnet was still worried about his native Europe. In June of 1940, after France’s military collapse, he was decisive in convincing Churchill and De Gaulle to create an indissoluble union between the United Kingdom and France, which failed when Marshall Pétain signed an armistice with the Nazis. Churchill then sent him as his representative to the United States to convince the Americans to produce armaments for the Allies. Once again Monnet brought Roosevelt around to his point of view, persuading him that America must become “the arsenal of democracy” (Nathan 1991, 72). The results of this policy were spectacular: 300,000 aircraft, 100,000 tanks, and 124,000 warships were produced by American factories for use in Europe and the Pacific. According to the prestigious English economist John Maynard Keynes, Jean Monnet’s efforts reduced the duration of the war by one full year (Ugland 2011, 67).

After Germany’s defeat Monnet committed himself to the reconstruction of Europe, beginning with his native France. To do so he dealt with General De Gaulle, but only became effective after being appointed the General Commissioner of the Marshall Plan, a position to which he was appointed by President Truman himself.87 During his time at this post he came to realize to what extent Europe’s resurgence depended upon breaking down its borders. A pragmatist first and foremost, Monnet eschewed grandiose theoretical statements and decided to concentrate his efforts on promoting the principle of “supranationality” in Europe with regards to a specific point. Defeated Germany served as a testing ground and platform for him to put his idea into practice.

The confrontation with the Soviet bloc raised the need to incorporate West Germany into the anti-Communist bloc, prompting the Allies to back the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany on May 23, 1949. On this basis Jean Monnet had the idea of integrating the regions of the Ruhr and the Saar (Germany) and Alsace and Lorraine (French), bases of European coal and steel production, into a community that would encompass French and German production, although it was to be open to more states (Gillingham 1991, 129–162). Monnet’s idea was received with enthusiasm by German President Konrad Adenauer, who saw in it a way to prevent a potential “Versailles Effect” by placing a defeated Germany on an equal footing with France in the constitution of a supranational entity binding upon both states.88

Apparently modest in its objective, Monnet’s Coal and Steel Community was revolutionary in terms of its method: the freely consented cession of sovereignty in certain and decisive sectors to common and independent institutions (Community Method).

To carry out his plan, however, Jean Monnet needed political support, and Robert Schuman was just the man to give it to him. Robert Schuman, the Most German of Frenchmen

Robert Schuman (1886–1963) was born in Luxembourg but spent his childhood and youth in Germany. He studied in Berlin, Munich, Metz, Bonn, and Strasbourg, a German city since 1871. During World War I, as he did not physically qualify for military service, he served the Second Reich in the War Administration (Bitsch 2010, 19).89 Living in Metz after the Treaty of Versailles (1919), he became a French citizen,90 soon entered politics, and managed to be elected to the French National Assembly.91 Politically he was a conservative but above all a pragmatic realist, with great expertise in financial matters. After World War II92 he became a minister and then Prime Minister under the Fourth French Republic. Under these conditions, a union between France and Germany seemed to him an excellent idea.

If Jean Monnet had the idea, Schuman can be credited with implementing it politically, a task at which he received the support of other European politicians, such as the German Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967), Joseph Bech (1887–1975) of Luxembourg, and the Italian Alcide de Gasperi (1881–1954).

18.5.2 The Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950

In the spring of 1950, a new government was formed in France in which Robert Schuman was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. From his position, he was able to convince the French cabinet of the merits of Monnet’s plans, and received permission to hold a press conference on May 9, 1950. The result was the Schuman Declaration, which laid a cornerstone in the construction of a united Europe (Dinan 2014, 37–45).93

The Declaration (Schuman 2011, 1–3) first proposed a method for the construction of a common Europe: concrete achievements that first create real solidarity.94 The first tangible achievement was going to be built on the basis of the Franco-German union (Milward 2013, 126–140)95 “on one limited but decisive point…that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority”.

According to the Declaration this concrete action had three main objectives:

  • The common cause resulting from the joint implementation of coal and steel production was aimed, firstly, at preventing confrontation between regions which had long been dedicated to the manufacturing of weapons, of which they themselves had been the first victims. The objective, essentially, was to demonstrate that the shared production thus created would show that any war between France and Germany was not only unthinkable, but also materially impossible.96

  • Secondly, the pooling of coal and steel was seen as a tool for economic development, as it ensured the merging of markets and the expansion of production through the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality. The provisioning of coal and steel under conditions identical to the French market and the German markets, and to those of member countries, would assure the development of common exports to other countries, giving equal opportunities and improving living conditions for workers in these industries.97 This was all to be achieved while respecting free market rules.98

  • Thirdly, the new organization was to be the first stage of a European federation because subjecting the production of coal and steel to a common authority was something open to all other European countries wishing to participate in it:

    The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification […] In this way, there will be realized simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions. By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.

Finally, the Declaration stipulated how France and Germany were to proceed to submit the production of Coal and Steel to a High Authority independent of their respective governments:

First, it was stipulated that, legally, the concrete transfer of sovereignty was to be incorporated into a treaty as a way to bind the member states.99 Secondly the “High Authority” was to be fully independent from the member states so its decisions would have executive force in the signatory states:

The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority’s decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.

18.6 From the European Coal and Steel Community to the European Economic Community (1951–1957)

18.6.1 The 1951 Treaty of Paris and the Creation of the ECSC

The next step was the establishment of a specialized committee to handle the project’s technical details, which Monnet chaired himself. Soon representatives from France and Germany joined those from Italy and the three Benelux countries. The negotiations were carried out on new bases, as they were no longer adversaries but “teammates” who, as stated by Schuman, were engaged in a “common search”.

The committee worked quickly. On April 18, 1951 the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was signed in Paris. This first European Community was essential because it heralded the three basic institutions of the European integration process: an executive power, the High Authority—today the Commission—with sovereign powers which was responsible to an assembly (the current European Parliament) and whose decisions were monitored a posteriori by a European Court of Justice (today the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg) (Wilson 2003, 133).

The ECSC was dissolved on July 23, 2002, but not before playing an essential and historic role by paving the way for the European communities that succeeded it (Gillingham 2002, 299–363). In fact, the constitution of the ECSC was a great blow to the statist camp, in particular the British, as the United Kingdom was excluded from the process.100

For the first time the ECSC implemented the “Community Method”, aimed at supranationality by assigning the High Authority power101 that superseded that of the member states.

18.6.2 From the Failure of the EDC to the Treaties of Rome (1951–1957)

The six signatory states decided to forge ahead with the integration process, despite British resistance. Current events at the time seemed to affect the course taken towards integration, as on June 25, 1950 the Korean War began. The confrontation with the communist bloc, of which Mao’s China now formed part (October 1, 1949), made Europeans uneasy, spurring them to request the formation of a military alliance with the United States, which led to the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on April 4, 1949 (Hanhimäki and Westad 2004, 107).

It is, then, understandable that the next step in European integration was the creation of a European Defense Community (EDC), a new idea of Jean Monnet’s endorsed by René Pleven, then France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (Bossuat 1996, 191). The objective was to create an organization of European armed forces, integrating West Germany (FRG) into the European Community. The treaty was signed by the six members of the ECSC on May 27, 1952 and was ratified by five national parliaments. In the end, it failed because the French National Assembly, the parliament of the country that had advanced it, voted against ratification on August 30, 1954 (Sanderson 2003, 336).102 It would not be until the Amsterdam Treaty of 1999 that Europe considered adopting a common defense policy again.

The failure of the EDC prompted Jean Monnet to resign from the presidency of the High Authority of the ECSC to concentrate his energies on establishing and leading an “Action Committee for the United States of Europe”, established in 1955 (Fransen 2006, 125). This was a pressure group comprised of qualified leaders (politicians, trade union representatives and employers) with the authority to make decisions in their respective fields, and charged with promoting European integration (Hayward 2008, 15–27).

As in France nationalist politicians had triumphed, the political initiative for European integration fell to the “Benelux” countries, then led by Joseph Bech (Luxembourg), Paul Henri Spaak (Belgium), and Jan Wilem Beyen (Netherlands). Thanks to them the decisive Messina Conference (June 1955) was held,103 which yielded two new European communities: the European Economic Community (EEC), or Common Market, and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or EURATOM). Their founding treaties were signed on March 25, 1957 in Rome (Gilbert 2012, 51–56).

18.7 The Extension of the Community Method to Create a Common European Market, and the Institutionalization of European Integration (1957–1965)

Of the two Rome Treaties the EEC was by far the most important, as it aimed to create a Common European market based on the principle of the free movement of goods, workers, and services, and the full application of competition rules. The exception was agricultural production, which relied upon public subsidies from the EEC. This was a very important exception, as in 1957 European public aid to Agriculture represented 75 % of expenses in the EEC’s budget.104 The Community Method was applied to the framework of the three Communities created between 1951 and 1957, which led to the institutionalization of common institutions and procedures.

18.7.1 The Court of Justice of the European Communities and the European Parliament

With the adoption of the Treaties of Rome, European integration had been “institutionalized”. The formal structure of the ECSC was modified. On March 19, 1958 the European Parliamentary Assembly was created in Strasbourg, superseding the Common Assembly of ECSC,105 and the Court of Justice of the European Communities was established in Luxembourg on October 7.106 On March 30, 1962, the European Parliamentary Assembly changed its name to the European Parliament (EP) (Evans and Silk 2008, 305).

18.7.2 The European Free Trade Association: A British “Tantrum”

The success of the Common Market incited the British, who had stayed out of the treaties, to create their own international trade association. The British government, conscious that they had relinquished European leadership (Dell 2004), reacted to the Schuman plan and the further development of the first three European communities by creating the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a product of the Stockholm Convention of January 4, 1960. This alliance was initially composed of Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. The EFTA, however, proved a failure, as most of its members, starting with the United Kingdom, dropped out of it, and joined the European Community, the EEC (Denmark, United Kingdom, and Portugal) or the EU (Austria, Finland, and Sweden).107

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