EU Founding Fathers

The following visionary leaders inspired the creation of the European Union we live in today. Without their energy and motivation we would not be living in the sphere of peace and stability that we take for granted. From resistance fighters to lawyers, the founding fathers were a diverse group of people who held the same ideals: a peaceful, united and prosperous Europe. Beyond the founding fathers described below, many others have worked tirelessly towards and inspired the European project.

Konrad Adenauer: a pragmatic democrat and tireless unifier

The first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, who stood at the head of the newly-formed state from 1949-63, changed the face of post-war German and European history more than any other individual.

A cornerstone of Adenauer's foreign policy was reconciliation with France. Together with French President Charles de Gaulle a historic turning point was achieved: in 1963 the one-time arch-enemies Germany and France signed a treaty of friendship, which became one of the milestones on the road to European integration.

Joseph Bech: how a small country can play a crucial role in European integration

Joseph Bech was the Luxembourgish politician that helped set up the European Coal and Steel Community in the early 1950s and a leading architect behind European integration in the later 1950s.

It was a joint memorandum from the Benelux countries that led to the convening of the Messina Conference in June 1955, paving the way for the European Economic Community.

Johan Willem Beyen: a plan for a common market

The international banker, businessman and politician Johan Willem Beyen was a Dutch politician who, with his 'Beyen Plan', breathed new life into the process of European integration in the mid-1950s.

Beyen is one of the lesser-known members of the group of Founding Fathers of the EU. Amongst the people who knew him he was admired for his charm, international orientation and social ease.

Winston Churchill: calling for a United States of Europe

Winston Churchill, a former army officer, war reporter and British Prime Minister (1940-45 and 1951-55), was one of the first to call for the creation of a 'United States of Europe'. Following the Second World War, he was convinced that only a united Europe could guarantee peace. His aim was to eliminate the European ills of nationalism and war-mongering once and for all.

Alcide De Gasperi: an inspired mediator for democracy and freedom in Europe

From 1945 to 1953, in his roles as Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Alcide De Gasperi forged the path of the country’s destiny in the post-war years.

Time and time again he promoted initiatives aimed at the fusion of Western Europe, working on the realisation of the Marshall Plan and creating close economic ties with other European countries, in particular France.

Walter Hallstein: a diplomatic force propelling swift European integration

Walter Hallstein was the first President of the European Commission from 1958 to 1967, a committed European and a decisive proponent of European integration.

As President of the European Commission, Hallstein worked towards a rapid realisation of the Common Market. His energetic enthusiasm and powers of persuasion furthered the cause of integration even beyond the period of his presidency. During his mandate, the integration advanced significantly.

Sicco Mansholt: farmer, resistance fighter and a true European

Sicco Mansholt was a farmer, a member of the Dutch resistance during the Second World War, a national politician and the first European Commissioner responsible for Agriculture. Mansholt's ideas laid the basis for the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, one of the most prominent policies since its founding days.

Having witnessed the horrors of the Dutch famine at the end of the Second World War, Mansholt was convinced that Europe needed to become self-sufficient and that a stable supply of affordable food should be guaranteed for all.

Jean Monnet: the unifying force behind the birth of the European Union

The French political and economic adviser Jean Monnet dedicated himself to the cause of European integration. He was the inspiration behind the 'Schuman Plan', which foresaw the merger of west European heavy industry.

Monnet was from the Cognac region of France. When he left school at 16 he travelled internationally as a cognac dealer, later also as a banker. During both world wars he held high-level positions relating to the coordination of industrial production in France and the United Kingdom.


Robert Schuman: the architect of the European integration project

The statesman Robert Schuman, a qualified lawyer and French foreign minister between 1948 and 1952, is regarded as one of the founding fathers of European unity.

In cooperation with Jean Monnet he drew up the internationally renowned Schuman Plan, which he published on 9 May 1950, the date now regarded as the birth of the European Union. He proposed joint control of coal and steel production, the most important materials for the armaments industry. The basic idea was that whoever did not have control over coal and steel production would not be able to fight a war.

Paul-Henri Spaak: a European visionary and talented persuader

'A European statesman' – Belgian Paul-Henri Spaak's long political career fully merits this title.

Spaak was a leading figure in formulating the content of the Treaty of Rome. At the 'Messina Conference' in 1955, the six participating governments appointed him president of the working committee that prepared the Treaty.

Altiero Spinelli: an unrelenting federalist

The Italian politician Altiero Spinelli was one of the fathers of the European Union. He was the leading figure behind the European Parliament's proposal for a Treaty on a federal European Union - the so-called 'Spinelli Plan'. This was adopted in 1984 by an overwhelming majority in the Parliament and provided an important inspiration for the strengthening of the EU Treaties in the 1980s and '90s.

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Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:47 AM
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Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:47 AM
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Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:47 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:47 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:47 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:48 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:48 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:48 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:48 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:48 AM
Ċ
Georgios Dafnos,
Apr 30, 2014, 5:47 AM
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