Wednesday, 7 May 2014

27 May 1952: a Treaty for a European Defence Community was signed...

The drawing above, dated October 1950, by the Dutch cartoonist Opland, comments ironically on the Pleven plan for a European army. The title is: "THE ATLANTIC ARMY", and the comment below is: "The best horse in the stable" (the one being ridden by the "European Minister for Defence").

The USA, in its efforts to contain communism, wanted Germany to rearm and join NATO. This idea was rejected by European countries. Jean Monnet suggested the setting up of a European Defence Community (EDC): a pan-European army to include West Germany, France, Italy, and the Benelux countries under the command of NATO. The plan for the EDC was announced by the French premier RenĂ© Pleven in October 1950 and a treaty signed on 27 May 1952.

However, the EDC plan was never implemented because the French National Assembly rejected it. Charles de Gaulle was against it too because he felt that rearming Germany was dangerous, that France would lose sovereignty over its defence and be subject to greater US domination. The French Communist party, which at the time was a major political force, rejected it too, ostensibly because it would give Germany the opportunity to once again pose a military threat, but especially because a strong European army would have contributed to lessening the influence of the Soviet Union in Europe (the Communist party in France was pro-Soviet).

There was also a plan in 1952 to set up a federalist European Political Community (because it became clear the Council of Europe was to have no real power...). It was to manage the EDC and the ECSC, but it was dropped when it became clear the EDC was not feasible.

The foreign ministers of the six member states of the ECSC held a Conference in Messina (Sicily) in June 1955. Because both the EDC and the European Political Community plans had failed, ideas were discussed to relaunch European integration, among which: a common market, customs union, and integration of the atomic energy sector… This lead to the signing of the Treaties of Rome in 1957 setting up the European Economic Community and Euratom.

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