THE EU – WHEN AND WHY DID IT BEGIN ?
The European Union is a political construct. Like all political constructs, it is driven by a political ideology. Many people are unaware of this, or do not fully realise what lies behind it.
So exactly when and why did it all begin ? Many will point to the Treaty of Rome (1957), which founded the European Economic Community (EEC or ‘Common Market‘). This Treaty committed the nations that signed it (and all subsequent new members) to a process of ’ever closer union’, a principle that is embedded in the EU’s DNA and which guides everything that it does today.
But the origins of the political thinking that inspired the EU ‘project’ go back much further; to World War 1 and the two decades immediately following it. It is from this period that the core beliefs of the EU’s founding fathers were formed and their ideas became injected into the political ‘mainstream’ of Europe’s nations; ideas which were eventually to come to fruition in the 1950’s.
If there is one historic event which more than any other, inspired what was eventually to become the EU, it was the Battle of Verdun, waged exactly 100 years ago in 1916. This catastrophic battle of attrition cost French and German forces over 700,000 men in dead and wounded. The impact on France in particular, was profound. From it emerged two abiding themes: firstly that such a clash must never happen again, and secondly, that war is shaped more than anything else by industrial power.
A leading French industrialist, Louis Loucheur, developed the idea that if industries from different countries (particularly coal and steel) could be removed from the control of individual nations and invested in a ‘higher authority’, this might be the means of creating everlasting peace. At the end of WW1, Loucheur became the chief economics advisor to the French Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau, and his political ideas began to gain influence within government circles.
At the same time, the end of WW1 and the formation of the League of Nations (1919), gave impetus to a range of idealistic, utopian movements aimed at preventing future wars by bringing nations closer together. In 1922, Count Christopher Coudenhove published ’Pan-Europa’, launching an organisation of the same name. The movement gained some prominent supporters, including Einstein, Picasso, the Mayor of Cologne (and future West German Chancellor), Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor Gustav Streseman, the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, Alcide DeGasperi and Robert Schumann. In 1926, Coudenhove’s ’Pan- Europa’ congress held in Vienna attracted 2000 politicians, academics, businessmen and journalists from across the continent.
In 1927, Briand became ’Pan-Europa’s’ honorary president, and in 1930, he circulated the governments of Europe with a memorandum on ’A Federal European Union‘. It proposed: ’in the interests of the peace and well being of the continent, Europe should be given something in the nature of a federal organisation, implemented in the framework of the League of Nations and respecting national sovereignties’.
Britain was not a signatory. 26 European countries expressed support, but insisted ’such an association must be on the plane of absolute national sovereignty and political independence’.
Pan-Europa’s vision faded in the 1930’s with the economic recession, growing international tensions and the decline in the influence of the League of Nations. One thing that the utopian ideas of the 1920’s had in common though, was that they were based on the principle of inter-governmental co-operation. By the early 1930’s however, a much smaller group of men watching events at close quarters began to think that if everlasting peace in Europe were to be achieved, a very different strategy would be required.
In 1925, Loucheur had brokered a short lived ‘International Steel Agreement’ covering France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. It had the power to impose production quotas for each member state and fine countries who broke the rules. It was in effect, Europe’s first ‘supranational’ political authority, the model for the European Coal and Steel Community set up after WW2. It also followed closely, the principles of the ‘zollverein’ (customs union); the economic tool by which the many diverse German states were welded into a single political entity (Germany) in the1860’s.
This was observed by two officials in the League of Nations: Arthur Salter (a leading British civil servant) and his close friend and collaborator, Jean Monnet (the League of Nations Deputy Secretary). Monnet had been an influential figure in French government for several years and was described as ’a born behind the scenes operator’, skilled at persuading others to advance projects that were close to his heart. Monnet had a special skill in building a secret network of influential friends and over the years he gained allies in many spheres, from the leading British economist John Maynard Keynes, to leading figures in the US government post-WW2, such as John Foster Dulles (Head of the CIA), Dean Acheson and George Kennan (US State Department).
Monnet worked within the League of Nations throughout the 1920’s but became frustrated by one particular feature – that every country had the power of veto. He wrote at the time: ’Any nation can say ‘No’ to an international body that has no supranational power. Goodwill between men, women and nations is not enough; one must have international laws and institutions’.
The first manifestation of this new thinking came in 1931, when Salter published ’The United States of Europe’, setting out a program for building a single, federal European state. The vehicle through how this would be achieved was the ’Customs Union’ or ’Common Market’, with a pan-national political authority to decide for all of Europe what tariffs should be imposed and how they should be distributed; reducing national governments to the status of municipal authorities. The central source of this authority would be ‘the secretariat‘; a permanent body of international civil servants owing their loyalty to the new organisation, not to their member states. This plan became almost exactly the blueprint for the eventual European Union.
Throughout the 1930’s Monnet and his acolytes continued to work behind the scenes and to formulate their ideas; those which underpin the ideological ethos of the EU to the present day. A lasting peace in Europe could only be achieved once all its historic nations had been consumed into the new federal entity, to be given supranational powers. Independent nation states were seen as the main cause of war; remove nations independence and you remove the causes of war.
Also at around this time, Monnet and his friends came to the view that parliamentary democracy was not to be trusted. Witnessing the rise of Hitler in the 1930’s, they concluded (erroneously) that because he gained power through democratic elections, parliamentary democracy at a national level was to blame. By removing national sovereignty and merging countries into a pan-national state to be run by a ‘vanguard elite‘ of enlightened thinkers (such as themselves) they could prevent such a thing ever happening again. This strategy owed much to Marxist-Leninist theory and the methods by which the USSR was created after 1917.
Therefore a process of deception and dishonesty was to be built into the European project from the start. Monnet himself admitted as much in private correspondence in 1943:
’Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose but which will irreversibly lead to federation’
Or as Nigel Farage has put it: ’Theirs must therefore be a softly-softly approach. They would recruit secret agents in high places They would lie and cheat where necessary. They would conceal their true intentions.’
In Britain‘s universities, the 1930’s were a time of idealistic ferment. Alongside Communism, the ideas of the nascent ‘European Movement’ began to gain ground amongst influential left-wing intellectuals of the day. One such person was the Oxford don, Arnold Toynbee:
’If we are frank with ourselves, we shall admit that we are engaged in a deliberate and sustained and concentrated effort to impose limitations on the sovereignty and independence of 50 or 60 local sovereign states. The surest sign that ’local sovereignty is our intended victim is the emphasis with which all our statesmen and publicists protest with one accord, at every step forward that we take, that the sacred principle of local sovereignty is not really been encroached upon …….. We are at present working discreetly but with all our might to wrest this mysterious political force called sovereignty out of the clutches of local national states and all the time we are denying with our lips what we are doing with our hands … sovereignty will cease in fact, if not in name to be a local affair …’
Three years after Toynbee wrote these infamous words, a young Edward Heath was being groomed by Alexander Lindsay, Toynbee’s Marxist and Euro-federalist successor at Balliol College, Oxford. One month before Heath became Prime Minister in 1970, he was briefed in private by Monnet.
One of the most fundamental misconceptions about the EU is that its intellectual genesis only emerged after WW2. In fact all of the essential ideas which lay behind the creation of a European Union had already been conceived in the 1920’s and 1930’s, supposedly as a way to prevent the recurrence of war. Meanwhile, the specific problem they had been designed to resolve (the enmity between France and Germany), had paled into insignificance.
It should also have been obvious to many at the time, that the 1939-45 war had shown both the dangers inherent in a false European ‘unity’ imposed through political ideology, and the vital roles that were played by national patriotism and parliamentary democracies in resisting Hitler‘s tyranny.
So by the time Monnet and his disciples finally got into the driving seat, the idea of a European Union as a necessity for peace was outdated; a 1920’s ’solution’ to a what had become a non-problem. The 1945 settlement, the subsequent Cold War and the balance of deterrence, the development of NATO, the United Nations and above all, the collective horror at the cataclysmic nature of the two world wars, had all effectively ended any likelihood of conventional war between Europe’s nations. That did not stop Monnet and his friends from pushing ahead though, and ever since their project has been advanced according to Salter’s 1931 blueprint, through stealth, conspiracy and deception.
The end of WW2 saw renewed diplomatic efforts being made towards schemes of European unity. After 1945 Monnet was an effective propagandist in the USA for European Unionism, having the sympathies of key Washington insiders such as Dulles, Acheson and Kennan. The USA was now the most enthusiastic proponent for integration in Europe, with the CIA providing covert funding and support for the growing ‘European’ movement.
The late 1940’s saw two unsuccessful attempts to introduce a European federalist model. In 1948, under American promotion, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was set up. Monnet and the French government lobbied hard for it to be given supranational powers, but this foundered on the rock of British opposition, so it remained an inter-governmental body.
In 1947, the European Union of Federalists was formed and in May 1948, they held a ‘European Congress’ in The Hague. Members included several former and future European Prime Ministers. The Congress called for:
1. The creation of a Council of Europe, to draw up plans for the political and economic integration of Europe and,
2. The establishment of a ‘European Movement’, to co-ordinate groups promoting European integration and to break down national sovereignty by practical action in the political and economic spheres.
Three meetings of the Council of Europe were held between 1949 and 1950, but failed to agree on the establishment of supranational powers in the face of sustained opposition from Britain, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries. This led Monnet to conclude:
‘The Council of Europe would never be anything more than a talking shop, and we must do without Britain if we are to make any headway ……amid this vast group of countries, the common interest was too indistinct. A start would have to made on doing something more practical. National sovereignty would have to be tackled on a narrower front ….. ’
So Monnet and his supporters returned to a plan (one that was originally discussed with Arthur Salter over dinner in 1917), and given brief life by Louis Loucheur in 1925: a French-German Coal and Steel Community with supranational powers, as the first step towards a European federation.
This time they succeeded. The plan was adopted by the French and German governments, and on 9th May 1950, Robert Schumann (now French Foreign Minister) revealed it to the world:
‘World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. In taking upon herself the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her aim, the cause of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war. With this aim the French government proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel be placed under a common, high authority … and provide for the setting up of common foundations as the first step in the federation of Europe …’
(nb. The ‘Schuman Declaration’ now occupies pride of place on the EU website as the founding document leading to the creation of the EU)
By 1957, the project had advanced sufficiently for six of Europe’s nations (France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy) to be drawn into a full blown customs union (The Common Market) through the Treaty of Rome.
Future historians will look back in astonishment at how Europe’s political elite were obsessed for so long by an ideology that was already well past its political ‘sell-by’ date in 1945, and had become even more discredited by events when the Cold War finally ended in 1991. Today, there is no secret. The EU is a huge, fundamentally misguided ‘peace’ project, based on mistaken ideas about Europe‘s 20th century history. The EU’s present day leaders are quite open about it:
‘The EU and the European project has been the peacemaker for over half a century. Peace was the overarching objective of European integration from day one. In the minds of Jean Monnet, Robert Schumann, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi and many others, the idea was to make it through economic integration. But economic integration was always a means to an end; Peace. We must never stop recalling to our citizens that peace is and will remain, not the only one, but Europe’s most fundamental raison d’etre’ (EU Commission President, Manuel Barroso, 2009).
‘We have a historical obligation to protect by all means, Europe’s unification process begun by our forefathers after centuries of hatred and blood spill. None of us can foresee what the consequences would be if we were to fail … ’ (Angela Merkel, 2011)
In case there should still be any doubt about the course on which the EU is set, take a look at the plaque at the entrance to the EU’s Visitor Centre in Brussels, which says: ‘
‘National sovereignty is the root cause of most of the evils of our times. The only remedy to this evil is the Federal Union of the peoples’
Thus we find the purpose of all EU activity is to create a supranational sovereignty; a United States of Europe with its own flag, anthem, currency, laws, judiciary, president and even its own ‘demos‘. How many indoctrinated youngsters do you hear nowadays proclaiming to be ’Europeans’? But unlike the nations of old, in this new supra-nation state there will be no democracy, no proper parliament, no prosperity, no real freedom, no real choice and no hope.
It is fitting that 2016 should see the first blow struck against the ‘European’ project almost 100 years after its genesis, with the British people’s vote to Leave the EU. It is also fitting that it should be Britain to strike this blow, having long been the historic guardian of the continent’s liberties.
(with thanks to material from ‘The EU – The Great Deception’ by Christopher Booker
and Richard North, and ‘Flying Free’, by Nigel Farage)
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