My book on the history of European Unification since the end of the Second World War is dedicated to my children and grandchildren. In writing it, I found inspiration in Robert Schuman and Solidarnosc: to return Europe its soul – through reconciliation, unification and true solidarity. They are both on the cover and the title page. As a civilization Europe is much older of course. The School of Athens – Plato and Aristotle – as painted by Raphael and the Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis as painted by Rembrandt, are on the cover as well. Reflections on Europe in history precede the history of European Unification – they are necessary to understand Schuman and Solidarnosc and why a radical break with the past was required; a past we are not allowed to forget.
I share the concept of Europe as a civilization characterized by an ethical dualism between Christian virtues and pagan traditions (Christopher Dawson). The dualism dominates our personal lives and Europe`s political history. It explains the humanization of European law over the centuries and current confusion about human rights law today. It explains why Schuman`s effort to reconcile France and Germany and unify Europe was such a radical departure from past politics. Together with the successful revolution against Soviet repression, we can learn that Europe needed (and still needs) reconciliation and unity to resist a return to pagan traditions in the disguise of the totalitarian ideologies of progress, the dictatorship of economic values, nationalism and the abuse of power for selfish gain.
The ethical dualism also shows in the short sixty two years history of European Unification since 1950. Reconciliation between France and Germany led to unification and the peaceful enlargement to a European Union of twenty seven Member States in 2011. It also saw the creation of common institutions and common rules to lay the foundations for true unity. Still, there are enough signs of a failing, fading and fragile European conscience to warrant concern and critical reflection. The European Union is a system in permanent crisis. The transformation of the European Communities into the European Union signifies a clear deviation from the road to unity as envisaged by the founding fathers. As a method of common action the Summit Conference, named European Council, is distinctly less capable of giving direction to Europe`s common destiny than the supranational institutions created in the 1950`s.
As I conclude in the Epilogue, the spirit of Schuman is sadly missing in the Treaties of Lisbon in force since 1 December 2009. The present European crisis, more than any previous one in the short history of European Unification, carries a clear message. Time has come for Europe to recover her soul and to return to the solid constitutional foundation of the original Schuman plan. So much I learned from writing this new version of the history of European Unification.
European Unification and Western Cooperation clearly belonged together in the second half of the Twentieth Century; they still do today. As I wrote in the Preface to: Western Cooperation. Origins and History, Second Revised Edition of 2009, “Their histories are intertwined and complementary. Many of the same problems were encountered, their evolution was similar. Both were unsuccessful between 1917 and 1947. Both took off thereafter on the basis of the same fundamental principles.” For a proper understanding of the history of European Unification, I recommend my readers also to read Part I, ‘Between Power Politics and Alliance of Democracies’ from Western Cooperation. A digital version of the text is available under Western Cooperation on this website. Part II, chapter 5, ‘The Echternach Procession: From Political Cooperation to External Action’, is restricted to the common foreign policy and leaves out the common security and defense policy. This latter part of CFSP was already dealt with in Part II, chapter 6 of my book on Western Cooperation. For the benefit of the reader, the text of this chapter can be found on this website under European Unification/Documents Part II, chapter 6, NATO and the European Union. Following the text of chapter 6, the reader shall find the Epilogue to the earlier book.
On the Front Cover:
Above left: Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis. By: Rembrandt (1662)
Above right: Robert Schuman signs theTreaty of Paris (ECSC) on 18 April 1951
Below right: The School of Athens. Fresco by: Raphael (1510)
Solidarnosc demonstration 1980.
Inserted pictures: Vaclav Havel and Pope John Paul II.