Review: Pour l’Europe, by Robert Schuman http://bit.ly/1Rlbf0K
Robert Schuman - one of the Founding Fathers of the European Union

Robert Schuman (1886-1963) is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the European community. He was a prominent lawyer and the Foreign Affairs minister of France between 1948 and 1952. Schuman was born in Luxembourg. Living close to the Franco-German border affected some of his beliefs, such as that only a long-term reconciliation between Germany and France could be the basis for a unified Europe.

Robert Schuman was deported to Germany in 1940. After he succeeded in escaping, he joined the French resistance and, after, the war, became France’ Foreign Affairs minister. Together with Jean Monnet, he elaborated the Schuman Declaration which was presented on the 9th May 1950, considered to be the birth date of the European Union.

The book under review has been firstly published in 1963 in Paris. While the Schuman Declaration has been written in collaboration with Jean Monnet, in Pour l’Europe we can observe the pure ideas of Robert Schuman on the European project. However, at the end of the edition under review, one of the annexes contains the Schuman Declaration.

As the title of the book, Pour l’Europe (For Europe) suggests, the author fought for the unification of Europe. In his book, Schuman views a Europe of people, based on the diversity of cultures and strong because of the influence of its values inside and outside its borders. The book is structured into eight chapters, each and one of them equally important. The topics that Schuman addressed varied from that of borders and nationalism, towards the moral role of the European community in serving the humanity.

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The first chapter is called Le morcellement de l’Europe est devenu un absurde anachronisme. While difficult to translate this title into English without losing its deep meaning, the chapter refers to the need of unifying the nations of Europe and deleting borders. Schuman states that “our frontiers in Europe need to be increasingly less of a barrier regarding the exchange of ideas, people and goods” (p. 25). An important point that Schuman addressed in this chapter is that of supra-nationalism. He affirms that “supra-nationalism” will be founded on a national basis and that the glorious past will not be neglected” (p. 25). Moreover, supra-nationalism “is not about the fusion of states or the creation of a super state. Our European states are historical entities; it would be impossible, from a psychological point of view, to make them disappear. Their diversity is most welcomed, and we do not desire their leveling, nor their equalization.” (p. 26)

In the second chapter, L’Europe, avant d’être une alliance militaire ou une entité économique, doit être une communauté culturelle dans le sens le plus élevé de ce terme, Schuman envisaged the creation of “an alliance and a cooperation organized so strongly that none of the associated governments would be able to remove itself from it” (p. 43). An important point of view is linked to the temptation of the nation states to see only the abandoned liberties, and not the authority and warranties gained instead. Schuman saw the disintoxication of the history school books as an imminent necessity; as the “unity of Europe will not be realized solely on the basis of the European institutions” (p. 45-46).

A very important chapter is the fourth one, Sans l’Allemagne, tout comme sans la France, il serait impossible d’édifier l’Europe. Schuman states that the peace that has been pursued after the war has not been only a liquidation of war, but a construction of the future. Moreover, in this chapter Schuman discusses the position of France and Germany in history. Relevant for today’s events and the state of the European Union is the following statement of Schuman: “Germany has the sense of community developed more than any other state; in the sense of the unified Europe, Germany could play an important role in its totality.” (p. 86)

Another significant chapter with implications in today’s events is the fifth chapter, L’Angleterre n’acceptera de s’intégrer à l’Europe que sous la contrainte des événements. This chapter is treating the subject of Great Britain at the possibility of adhering to the European community. Schuman is of the opinion that England is “hostile to any form of integration” which has a federal structure. However, he states that “an English government will never give to a European organism more authority than that of the organisms of the Commonwealth” and that the organizing of any form of integration appears, to Great Britain, to be a domicile infringement or a solemn indiscretion.

The sixth chapter, L’intégration économique ne se conçoit pas, à la longue, sans intégration politique, emphasizes the necessity of political integration in order to obtain the sustainability of the economic integration. Schuman affirms that “economic integration cannot be realized long term, without a minimum of political integration”, “the new Europe needs to be fundamentally democratic” and errors of national democracies need to be avoided, especially the excess of bureaucracy and technocracy”.

The book that Robert Schuman wrote for a new Europe is as valuable today as it ever was. The book contains thoughts on the European projects that seem to have survived over time. Some of the opinions of Schuman on the construction of the European community, especially regarding supra-nationalism, integration and collaboration, should be taken into account by the current European elite.

Contemporary Europe, as well as each and every one of the European countries, should have, to some extent, the instinct of the inter-dependency, of living and working within this new climate of trust and benevolence, where each gives to the community the maximum of what it can give, conform with his proper spirit. Only this way Europe, the Occident, will be able to save themselves in the face of hostile coalitions that threaten their civilization.” 

The edition of the book reviewed is: Robert Schuman (2005) Pour l’Europe. 4ème ed., préface de Michel Barnier, Les Editions Nagel SA, ISBN 2-8263-0830-0.