Tuesday 13 November 2018

100 Years from the Armistice

The one hundredth anniversary of the armistice is an appropriate moment to consider what was behind the movement towards European unity.  That was set out in the Schumann declaration of 1950 that announced the formation of the first of the European Communities: European Coal and Steel Community.  Extracts from what Robert Schumann said are:
« Le rassemblement des nations européennes exige que l’opposition séculaire de la France et de l’Allemagne soit éliminée : l’action entreprise doit toucher au premier chef la France et l’Allemagne. 
Dans ce but, le gouvernement français propose de porter immédiatement l’action sur un point limité mais décisif : "Le gouvernement français propose de placer l’ensemble de la production franco- allemande de charbon et d’acier sous une Haute Autorité commune, dans une organisation ouverte à la participation des autres pays d’Europe." 
La solidarité de production (de charbon et d’acier) qui sera ainsi nouée manifestera que toute guerre entre la France et l’Allemagne devient non seulement impensable, mais matériellement impossible. »

“The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany.  Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries. 
With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point. 
It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. 
The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”
There is nothing in this declaration about a free trade deal but there is the establishment of a High Authority to take power away from the established nation states.  It worked magnificently.  We have seen that with the friendship between France and Germany manifested in the personal relationships between de Gaulle and Adenauer, between Mitterrand and Kohl and between Macron and Merkel now.

The benefits from the European Union are many.  We think overwhelmingly today of the material benefits: enormously increased prosperity, the freedoms we enjoy to live and work where we will within the EU.  We are right to do so but this carries the danger that we forget the most important one of all.  

That is the freedom from war and the threat of war between the countries of Western Europe.  That we should remember above all on Armistice Day.

Robin Baker
11th November, 2018