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The problem of security demands closer cooperation among the nations of Europe than has been known to date. Only a more closely integrated economic and political system can provide the greatly increased economic strength needed to maintain both necessary military readiness and respectable living standards.
Europe's enlightened leaders have long been aware of these facts. All the devoted work that has gone into the Schuman Plan, the European Army, and the Strasbourg Conferences has testified to their vision and determination.
The needed unity of Western Europe manifestly cannot be manufactured from without; it can only be created from within.
State of the Union Message
S A RESULT of the large-scale economic dislocation and destruction brought about by World War II and the necessity of building strength to resist the aggressive nature of Soviet foreign policy, the political leaders of many countries in free Europe have increasingly turned to European integration as an essential means of facilitating the economic recovery of Western Europe and of reorganizing its defenses. They have found that the problems confronting them extend beyond national boundaries and that the resources of individual countries are inadequate for the achievement of real solutions.
The idea of European political integration goes back to the early history of Europe. On various occasions the Continent has been partially but only temporarily integrated through conquest. Political integration within a democratic framework, however, has never before been realized. Most of the integration plans formulated between the fourteenth century and World War I suffered from the fact that they were not sufficiently practical in nature and were advocated largely by people with little or no influence on their governments.
Only after the end of World War I did the weight of economic and military problems begin to exert a real pressure on many political leaders to seek a united Europe for the purpose of averting further wars and promoting economic wellbeing. In the 1920's, for example, both Edouard Herriot and Aristide Briand, as French Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs respectively, stressed the importance and advantages of economic collaboration in a politically united Europe.
These ideas received a new and powerful stimulus from the experience of World War II. To many Europeans, individual states seemed wholly inadequate to cope with the overwhelming destruction and other problems resulting from the war. Later, the inadequacies of European defenses in the face of Soviet aggressive tendencies inclined them increasingly toward a cooperative solution of their defense problems.
Under the stimulus of these needs a number of progressively bolder steps have been taken since the end of World War II to achieve unity and cooperation in solving Europe's problems. In 1947 Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands agreed to
take steps toward the formation of an economic union. In March 1948 Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Great Britain, and France signed the Brussels Pact, which provides for collective self-defense and intergovernmental cooperation in economic, social, and cultural matters. A month later, in April 1948, the European countries participating in the Marshall Plan formed the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), which has actively promoted European recovery and economic cooperation among its members. With the signature of the North Atlantic Treaty in April 1949, the principle of a unified effort, particularly for collective security, was extended to the whole North Atlantic community. As organized cooperation among governments increased, popular and parliamentary pressure for an organization which would represent not only governments but also the people and parliaments of the member countries grew. In response to this pressure, the Council of Europe was formed in May 1949.
As the cooperative efforts to resolve Europe's problems moved forward, it became clear that all the countries concerned did not approach the problem of unified action from the same viewpoint. Certain countries, primarily Britain and the Scandinavian countries, considered that unified efforts should be carried out through intergovernmental cooperation, as in OEEC. They pointed to the success of such intergovernmental efforts as the European Payments Union and the trade liberalization program of the OEEC. However, others, particularly the French, Germans, and Italians, believed that the countries should move toward closer integration which would involve a genuine unification of individual economies and relinquishment of portions of national authority to organs superior to individual national governments. When the British and Scandinavians found they could not accept this approach, the federalist countries decided that it would be possible for them to move toward actual unification, even if perhaps only on a limited or functional basis.
In May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman made a bold proposal—that France and Germany, together with any other European countries, pool their coal and steel resources under a supranational authority. On April 18, 1951, six countries—France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg-signed the Schuman Plan treaty providing for a single market for coal and steel. With the