After the war, what next for Europe?

Lancement du plan Schuman pour la CECA, 19 mars 1951.
Lancement du plan Schuman pour la CECA, 19 mars 1951. - © Akg-images

Contents

    Timeline
    Timeline
    Organiser la paix. De la Charte des Nations-Unies aux Traités de Rome (1945-1957)
    May 1945

    7-9 mai : capitulation sans conditions de l?Allemagne . fin de la guerre en Europe.

    June 1945

    26 juin : signature, à San Francisco, par 51 pays,  de  la "Charte des Nations Unies" créant l'Organisation des Nations Unies (ONU) avec son secrétariat général, son assemblée générale annuelle et son conseil de sécurité de 11 membres dont 5 permanents avec droit de veto.

    August 1945

    8 août : accords de Londres décidant d'instituer un Tribunal militaire international pour juger les criminels de guerre nazis.

    9 août : déclaration de guerre de l'Union soviétique au Japon . justification de l'usage de la bombe atomique contre des objectifs militaires et non civils par le président américain Truman.

    15 août : condamnation à la peine de mort de Philippe Pétain par la Haute Cour de Justice (peine commuée en détention à perpétuité).

    September 1945

    2 septembre : proclamation par le Viêt-minh, à Hanoi, de l'indépendance de la République démocratique du Viêt-nam.

    October 1945

    15 octobre : jugement et exécution de Pierre Laval.

    24 octobre : création des Nations Unies.

    November 1945

    6 novembre : début de la IVe République en France.

    13 novembre : Charles de Gaulle élu chef du gouvernement à l?unanimité par l?Assemblée constituante.

    20 novembre : début du procès des criminels de guerre à Nuremberg.

    January 1946

    7 janvier : première réunion des Nations Unies à Londres.

    19 janvier :  instauration du Tribunal militaire international pour l'Extrême-Orient pour juger les criminels de guerre japonais, par le général MacArthur, commandant des forces d'occupation.

    April 1946

    29 avril : début, à Tokyo, du procès de l'ancien président du Conseil japonais et de 28 autres accusés de crimes de guerre.

    November 1946

    21 novembre : premiers accrochages entre troupes françaises et Viêt-minh . début de la guerre d?Indochine.

    December 1946

    5 décembre : New York choisie par l'ONU comme siège permanent.

    January 1947

    19 janvier : élections législatives en Pologne portant les communistes au pouvoir.

    February 1947

    10 février : signature de la paix, à Paris, avec les anciens alliés de l'Allemagne (Traité de Paris avec  l'Italie, la Roumanie, la Bulgarie et la Hongrie).

    May 1947

    3 mai : entrée en vigueur d?une nouvelle Constitution au Japon.

    June 1947

    5 juin : présentation par le département d'État américain du plan pour aider la renaissance économique de l'Europe après la guerre, le plan "Marshall".

    July 1947

    2 juillet : refus du plan Marshall par l?Union soviétique.

    August 1947

    15 août : double proclamation d'indépendance de l'Inde et du Pakistan.

    September 1947

    2 septembre : signature du traité de Rio (traité interaméricain d'assistance réciproque - TIAR) par 19 pays des deux Amériques.

    November 1947

    29 novembre : approbation du plan de partage de la Palestine par l?ONU (résolution 181) : un État juif, un État arabe et Jérusalem déclarée zone internationale.

    February 1948

    5 février : réouverture de la frontière entre la France et l?Espagne.

    28 février : prise du pouvoir par les communistes en République tchécoslovaque ("coup de Prague").

    March 1948

    17 mars : signature du Traité de Bruxelles, alliance en matière économique, sociale et culturelle et de défense collective entre la France, le Royaume-Uni, la Belgique, les Pays-Bas et le Luxembourg.

    April 1948

    3 avril : adoption du plan Marshall pour la reconstruction de l'Europe par le Congrès américain.

    16 avril : création de l'Organisation européenne de coopération économique (OECE), organisme responsable de la répartition des fonds prévus par le plan "Marshall" entre les pays d?Europe.

    May 1948

    7-11 mai : Congrès de l?Europe, à La Haye.

    15 mai : attaque d?Israël par l'Egypte, la Syrie, la Jordanie, le Liban et l'Iraq en réponse à la proclamation de l'Etat d'Israël.

    November 1948

    12 novembre : verdict du procès des criminels de guerre japonais ? condamnation à mort de l?amiral Tojo.

    December 1948

    10 décembre : adoption de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme par l?ONU.

    23 décembre : exécution de l'amiral Tojo.

    January 1949

    25 janvier : création du Conseil d?assistance économique mutuelle (CAEM) en Europe de l?Est.

    March 1949

    18 mars : signature d?un traité de défense mutuelle entre les États-Unis, le Canada, la Grande-Bretagne, la France et les états du Benelux.

    April 1949

    4 avril : signature, à Washington, du Traité de l?Atlantique Nord fondant l?Organisation du Traité de l?Atlantique Nord (OTAN), alliance politique et militaire réunissant dix pays d?Europe occidentale, les Etats-Unis et le Canada.

    May 1949

    5 mai : signature du Traité de Londres créant le Conseil de l?Europe.

    23 mai : création de la République fédérale d'Allemagne.

    September 1949

    1er septembre : création par l?abbé Pierre d?une auberge de jeunesse internationale à Neuilly-Plaisance, pour la réconciliation de la jeunesse d'Europe.

    October 1949

    7 octobre : création de la République démocratique allemande.

    February 1950

    14 février : signature à Moscou d?un traité d'amitié, d'alliance et d'assistance mutuelle entre la Chine et l?Union soviétique.

    May 1950

    9 mai : déclaration de Robert Schuman, ministre des Affaires étrangères français, appelant à la mise en commun des productions de charbon et d?acier de la France et de l?Allemagne au sein d?une organisation ouvertes aux autres pays d?Europe.

    June 1950

    25 juin : début de la guerre de Corée.

    July 1950

    Juillet : arrestation de Ethel et Julius Rosenberg accusés d'avoir fourni à l?Union soviétique des secrets sur la bombe atomique américaine.

    April 1951

    18 avril : signature du Traité de Paris fondant la Communauté européenne du charbon et de l?acier (CECA) réunissant l?Allemagne, la Belgique, la France, l?Italie, le Luxembourg et les Pays-Bas.

    May 1952

    27 mai : signature du Traité instituant la Communauté européenne de défense (CED) réunissant l?Allemagne, la Belgique, la France, l?Italie, le Luxembourg et les Pays-Bas.

    July 1953

    27 juillet : armistice de Panmunjeom mettant fin à la guerre de Corée, reconnaissance des deux Corées par les Etats-Unis et l?URSS.

    July 1954

    21 juillet : accords de Genève mettant fin à la guerre d?Indochine.

    August 1954

    30 août : refus de l?Assemblée nationale française de ratifier le Traité instituant la Communauté européenne de défense.

    October 1954

    23 octobre : accords de Paris fondant l?Union de l?Europe occidentale, organisation politico-militaire réunissant l?Allemagne, la Belgique, l?Espagne, la France, la Grande-Bretagne, la Grèce, l?Italie, le Luxembourg, les Pays-Bas et le Portugal.

    November 1954

    1er novembre : en Algérie, déclenchement de l?insurrection armée par le Front de libération nationale (FLN) . début de la guerre d?Algérie.

    May 1955

    9 mai : adhésion de la République fédérale d?Allemagne au Traité de l?Atlantique Nord.

    14 mai : création du Pacte de Varsovie, alliance militaire des pays socialistes d?Europe de l?Est.

    June 1955

    1er-2 juin : réunion de Messine entre l?Allemagne, la Belgique, la France, l?Italie le Luxembourg et les Pays-Bas étendant l?intégration européenne à toute l?économie.

    March 1957

    25 mars : signature, à Rome, des Traités créant la Communauté économique européenne (CEE) et la Communauté européenne de l?énergie atomique (CEEA ou Euratom) par l?Allemagne, la Belgique, la France, l?Italie, le Luxembourg et les Pays-Bas.

    Photo gallery
    Jean Monnet (1988-1979)
    Robert Schuman (1886-1963)
    Paul-Henri Spaak (1899-1972)
    Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967)
    Joseph Bech (1887-1975)
    Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
    Alcide de Gasperi (1881-1954)
    Walter Hallstein (1901-1982)
    Johan Willem Beyen (1897-1976)
    Sicco Mansholt (1908-1995)
    Altiero Spinelli (1907-1986)
    Cartes
    De la création de la Communauté économique européenne (CEE) aux adhésions ultérieures à la CEE puis à l'Union européenne (UE) - 1957-2013

    Summary

    DATE : 25 March 1957

    PLACE : Rome

    RESULT : Treaty creating the European Economic Community (EEC)

    FOUNDING STATES : Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands

    Once the guns had fallen silent, people had to learn how to live in peace again. International conferences were organised to establish a new global balance, but by 1947 Europe had been divided into two zones of influence. In the West, a group of politicians motivated by the same ideal nonetheless began working for European unity.

    In 1945, the toll of the war was disastrous. Sixty million people had been killed in all the theatres of operations around the world. The murder of six million Jews began to be seen as genocide in people's minds. The cities were submerged under the destruction. Millions of refugees were on the roads. Food shortages affected the population. The colonial empires started to fall apart. European currencies had lost value. Only three currencies had managed to resist, the US dollar, the pound sterling to a lesser extent, and the Swiss franc. The price of gold had reached new heights. Economies were administered by governments. Public opinions wanted a return to a normal life.

    The first act played out at Bretton Woods in July of 1944. The British economist, John Maynard Keynes, proposed creating an international currency, the bancor, which would not be linked to gold, to be used for commercial exchanges. But the head of the American delegation, Harry Dexter White, a senior Treasury official, was worried that countries with deficits would be able to freely dip into the United States' material resources with the new, generously distributed currency. The Americans had every reason to want keep the gold standard insofar as they held 2/3rds of the world's reserves.

    Molotov’s departure after the failure of the Paris Conference, 3 July 1947.

    depart de molotov

    © DR

    REORGANISING THE WORLD

    White propose alors un fonds de stabilisation des Nations unies chargé de contrôler les dévaluations. La parité des monnaies sera définie par rapport à l'or ou au dollar, lui-même as good as gold. L'ensemble du système sera géré par les banques centrales et par le Fonds monétaire international (FMI). Il disposera aussi d'une banque internationale pour la reconstruction et le développement (BIRD) ou banque mondiale. Le système, révolutionnaire, organise ainsi la coopération internationale.

    Marshall Plan: President Truman addressing the American Congress, 12 March 1947.

    plan marshall

    © L’Illustration

    White then proposed a United Nations stabilisation fund in charge of controlling devaluations. Monetary parity was to be defined in relation to gold or the dollar, itself being “as good as gold”. The entire system would be managed by the central banks and by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It would also have an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or World Bank. This revolutionary system thus organised international cooperation.

    The world was also reorganised on the political level at major international conferences: first at inter-ally conferences, then at United Nations conferences. The most famous were held in Moscow (19–30 October 1943), Tehran (28 November–2 December 1943), Yalta (4–11 February 1945) and Potsdam (17 July–2 August 1945). The Unites States, the USSR and Great Britain, respectively led by Roosevelt (and then Truman), Stalin and Churchill (and then Attlee), sought to agree on the map of Europe once peace had returned, and the fate of entire peoples was in their hands. The Big Three took decisions for the landings in France, the occupation of Germany, the fate of Italy and the borders of Poland. The question of Poland's western border gave rise to heated discussions with Stalin. And should Germany be broken up and deindustrialised?

    Ratification of the Treaty of Paris (ECSC), April 1951.

    ratification du traite de paris

    © Akg-images

    Yalta did not divide Europe: the declaration on liberated Europe issued after the conference was based on the liberal democratic principles of the Atlantic Charter (12 August 1941). In fact, the spirit of Yalta can be summed up as an attempt at dialogue between two competing economic systems to solve the major problems of post-war Europe and the world. But the decisions made at the conference were not complied with, notably the promise given to Roosevelt to organise free elections in the part of Europe liberated by the Red Army, and Yalta became the symbol of Stalin's victory. After the war, conferences were held on the ministerial level to seal the fate of Germany's allies (Paris Peace Treaties of 10 February 1947), and France took part in them. Denazification continued with the Nuremberg Trials during which, from 20 November 1945 to 1 October 1946, twenty-four war criminals were judged for conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Lastly, territorial settlements were reached with the help of the UN in Africa and Europe (Finland, Tende and La Brigue, Trieste, Macedonia, Thrace, Transylvania, the Dodecanese, Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia). The USSR unquestionably succeeded in pushing toward the west and north of Europe.

     

    CONTAINING COMMUNISM

    And yet, the feeling that the post-war settlements were a failure grew in 1947 due to the frictions, then tensions, and finally threats weighing on the Grand Alliance. The Cold War was upon us. Disagreements had already become obvious in Churchill's "iron curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri, on 5 March 1946. In Iran, the English and the Americans dangerously opposed the Soviets. The USSR demanded a review of the accords on access to the straits in Turkey. In Greece, placed under British military control, a civil war broke out and, on 12 March 1947, Truman defined a doctrine for containing Communism. Furthermore, slow economic reconstruction brought Europe to the brink of chaos.

    Jean Monnet, President of the High Authority of the ECSC, officially launches the opening of the six member countries’ common market for steel, 30 April 1953.

    jean monnet

    © Akg-images/ Ullstein Bild

    The "German question" remained a sticking point between Eastern and Western Europe. The Big Four Conference of Foreign Minsters held in Moscow in March-April 1947 did not reach an agreement and distrust reigned. In January of the same year in Poland, rigged elections gave power to the Communists. In Western European countries, the Communist Parties headed social struggles and, in May, the Communists, members of the governments in France, Italy and Belgium, left power. The quadripartite management of Germany collapsed and the Soviets blocked access to Berlin from June 1948 to May 1949. In reaction to this, the American, British and then French zones merged into a single zone to form the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in May of 1949. The Soviet zone was set up as a State: the German Democratic Republic (GDR). All these events totally blocked any settlement of the "German question". The Marshall speech of 5 June 1947 had opened up the possibility of an inter-European economic entente, but the USSR refused what it considered to be an anti-Soviet war machine. Fear progressively seized both sides, with the USSR fearing American domination while the United States worried about global Communist subversion. Fear replaced reason, maintaining and even generating conflicts.

    The Western countries were impressed by the creation of an information bureau by the European Communist Parties, the Cominform, at Szklarska Poreba in September 1947. The Prague Coup by Czechoslovakian Communists on 28 February 1948 eliminated the "bourgeois" ministers. Western military containment gave rise to the Atlantic Pact on 4 April 1949. The Soviets responded to the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA or COMECON), in 1949, and to NATO with the Warsaw Pact in 1955. The United States' emergence as a very great power was an essential consequence of the war. Europe had lost its central role as a political and economic power. The war had hastened its decadence, weakened its economy and weighed on its finances. In this context, how can we situate the European unity phenomenon?

     

    A WEALTH OF DISCUSSIONS ON EUROPEAN UNITY

    European unity came after the reconstruction of the Nation-States and after the creation of global security organisations (the UN, in June 1945). But the idea of European unity already existed and haunted administrative souls. In 1929-1930, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister, Aristide Briand, had proposed the creation of a European federation. The project was not adopted, but the creation of regional economic unions was a widespread idea among industrialists and in international trade circles suffering from the worldwide economic crisis. The war had temporarily established a German Europe, united by the force of a military dictatorship. The post-war period needed to liquidate that conception of Europe and focus on a democratic popular unity based on the values of the Atlantic Charter. A powerful collective action was needed to move beyond the obstacle of fear of Germany and the USSR, which was not provided by the new global organisations nor by the diplomacies of the European Nation-States. The Big Four conferences had failed, as we saw. Multilateral security treaties were then signed in Europe. The Treaty of Brussels of February 1948 reinforced the security of France, Great Britain and the Benelux countries. The Atlantic Pact brought together the countries of Western Europe and Turkey (starting in 1952) with the United States and Canada against all aggressors.

    OEEC meeting, with Robert Schuman representing France, Paris, 20 October 1952.

    reunion

    © Roger-Viollet

    At the same time, another kind of collective action was conceived: a European Union. Forms of regional unity had been envisaged by an active, enlightened segment of public opinion. All the major democratic parties developed a discourse on European unity framing the discourse on national reconstruction. In March 1944, De Gaulle adopted a project for a Federation of Western Europe after asking the CFLN (French Committee of National Liberation) to work on European unity in Algiers during the autumn of 1943. Jean Monnet, René Mayer, Robert Marjolin, Jean Chauvel and Maurice Couve de Murville compared their unity projects. The European Resistance movements rose up against a simple return to national sovereignty, which needed to be guided by normative forms of European or international unity. Without any consultations, they drew up a generic project for a "Europe of free nations" or a United States of Europe (Frenay, Hauriou, Camus, Blum, etc.). It was no longer a question of getting revenge on Germany, but rather of judging the Nazi crimes, integrating the German people into a European Union and using the Ruhr for joint development purposes. Several meetings were held in Switzerland in 1944, including one in May that gave rise to a project for European Resistance written at the home of Pastor Visser't Hooft in Geneva, and another in July at the initiative of E. Rossi, A. Spinelli and H. Frenay for a Declaration of European Resistance. But approval from the main allies was needed. The United States encouraged them, but the USSR did not, as they wanted to create their own security system against Germany. Would Europe's Resistance movement, rather than the States, lead the European unity process?

     

    THE COMPLEX REALITY OF THE UNITY PROCESS

    European unity became very popular when Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of Britain, thrilled the crowds in Zurich in September 1946 with a call for the United States of Europe. He called for the creation of a Council of Europe. The myth of the "European spring" was born. At the same time, and while federalist and unionist organisations were campaigning, European governments continued to act sovereignly. France first wanted the disintegration of Germany and European unity under her direction to ensure her security once and for all.

    Jean Monnet, Heinz Potthof and Konrad Adenauer, 9 December 1953

    ullstein bild roger viollet

    © Ullstein Bild / Roger-Viollet

    Access to German coal was essential for the French modernisation and equipment plan put forward by Monnet who had attempted, as early as April 1945, to set up supranational steering for European coal exchanges. He wanted a "coal dictator" in Germany with authority over the mines and over the allied occupation authorities; Eisenhower refused. In 1946, Monnet once again proposed setting up autonomous international organisations in the valleys of the Rhine, Elbe, Danube and Oder, inspired by Roosevelt's TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). Jean Monnet's functionalism did not receive the support of governments. The French government, on the other hand, was highly favourable to a customs union with Benelux. In early 1947, Léon Blum had to recognise Britain's hostility to his projects for a continental union and accept to link his fate more with the Americans for France's security and modernisation.

    And yet, thanks to Churchill's role, a European unionist movement, the United Europe Movement (UEM), favourable to intergovernmental cooperation, was founded in May of 1947. The UEM inspired others in France with the Conseil Français pour l'Europe Unie (Herriot, Courtin and Dautry), and received political support in Europe, unlike most of the other pro-European and federalist organisations.

    Economic liberalism found effective spokesmen with the European League for Economic Cooperation (ELEC) (Paul Van Zeeland, Joseph Retinger). On the other hand, Protestant Churches, the Catholic Church, the academic circles of the Forum Alpbach (Otto Molden) and the Rencontres internationales de Genève, Christian Democracy and its Nouvelles Équipes Internationales (NEI) and the Socialist Movement for the United States of Europe (Marceau Pivert) produced a very active environment seeking European political unity. The UEM then proposed to organise a synthesis for a conference of pro-European movements with the hope of bringing about Churchill's project for the Council of Europe.

    On 7 May 1948, the non-governmental Congress of Europe, chaired by Churchill, brought together 775 delegates from 24 European countries in the Hague. Resolutions were unanimously approved, along with a Message to Europeans written by Denis de Rougemont. It called for partial abandonment of sovereignty and Germany's integration into Europe, the creation of a European deliberative assembly designated by the national parliaments, the drafting of a Human Rights Charter and the installation of a Supreme Court of Justice. The struggle between the unionists (British) and the federalists (French, Italians and Belgians), and the oppositions between the liberals and the planners gave a reminder of the limits of the pro-European movements' influence.

    But three months after the Congress, the French government suddenly took up the European Political Assembly project (Georges Bidault). The five members of the Brussels Pact took up the project for the Council of Europe. The new organisation, established on 5 May 1949, was given and Consultative Council designated by the Parliaments, and a sovereign Committee of Ministers, voting unanimously. This was far from a European federation. Disappointment came quickly, despite the lyrical flights of Winston Churchill, Georges Bidault and Guy Mollet, Pieter Kerstens and Eamon de Valera, Paul Reynaud and Hendrik Brugmans in the summer of 1949. Spaak was elected President of the Council, but he resigned with great fanfare in December of 1951 after speaking out against the voluntary stalemate on greater Europe caused by the British.

    The Cold War and the Marshal Plan carried more weight in the debate on Europe than Europeanist ideas. The idea of reducing national sovereignties had lost ground. The Brussels Pact of 17 March 1948, which was awaited by the Americans, could have created a European unity organisation, but it was more a regional defensive pact than a customs union project; the French and the British also wanted an American military guarantee. The pact did not introduce real European institutions in view of unity. Instead of an ideological, idealistic, pacifistic project concerning all of the historical Europe, European unity became a form of resistance to Soviet domination.

    The Americans had placed conditions on their aid to Western Europe unity. An Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was set up to distribute the aid. Against the United States' wishes, France, Benelux and Italy, Great Britain, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries imposed cooperation more than integration, but Germany was part of the organisation. The OEEC helped to liberate inter-European exchanges without creating a customs union and also encouraged the return of currency convertibility thanks to the European Payments Union (EPU). The Marshall Plan closely linked Germany's fate to a democratic Europe. France was therefore invited to change policies and outlook on Franco-German relations. To the East, the Soviet bloc came together in an original economic organisation, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA or COMECON), founded on 25 January 1949; it was a structure for the exchange of economic and technical information. Unlike the experiments in Western European construction, what happened in the East maintained Soviet domination in an unequal partnership. This "other Europe" was not the expression of the local populations' European consciousness. In Western Europe, the democratic ideals shared with the dominant foreign power could be contested. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, no kind of contestation of the Soviet model was to be found in the marriage contract.

    Signature of the Treaty of Rome, 25 March 1957.

    traite de rome

    © TopFoto / Roger-Viollet

    That is why the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 astonished people and sent shockwaves throughout Europe. It was the manifestation of a radical change in French policy toward Germany and proposed shared sovereignty in the field of two key industries of the day, coal and steel. Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer took a clear step toward peace in Europe with the project for a High Authority for coal and steel, a federal body. It is not easy to decide what this success owes to the powerful, innovative ideas of this text or to the context and unfulfilled aspirations for European federal unity. While the Americans were not at the origin the text, they did a lot for the success of the Treaty of Paris in April 1951.

    Thus, an initial form of unity came about that State cooperation and diplomacy never could have imagined. It justified other unity efforts, starting with the EDC, which ended in failure in 1954, then the Treaties of Rome of 25 March 1957 (Euratom and the Common Market). European unity was not imposed by the strength of its idealistic message. The Schuman Declaration worked because it appeared to be better adapted than the sovereign States' traditional action to the Cold War situation, to populations' aspirations for material wellbeing, and to France and Germany's condition for solving their centuries-old material and moral disorders.

    Author

    Gérard Bossuat – Professor Emeritus, University of Cergy-Pontoise – History of European Unity – Jean Monnet ad personam chair

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    Bibliography :

    La France et la construction européenne : de 1919 à nos jours, Gérard Bossuat, coll. U, Armand Colin, 2012.

    Histoire de l'Union européenne : fondations, élargissements, avenir, Gérard Bossuat, Belin Sup, 2009.

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