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Robert Schuman

Jean Monnet's Speech

Born in 1888 in Cognac, Jean Monnet spent much of his youth in his father's cognac business. During World War I , he worked in Britain, organising supplies and fostering economic cooperation between France and Britain. As a result of his efforts in this job, he was appointed Deputy Secretary General in the League of Nations in 1920. Three years later, however, he gave in his notice and returned to work in the family business.

During the Second World War Monnet came back to work in the area of international economic cooperation again. He conceived a plan for a union between France and Britain which was signed by De Gaulle and Churchill in 1940.

After the war, Monnet was named Planning Commissioner, and became responsible for economic reconstruction in France. He began working on a scheme that he eventually proposed to Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, in 1949. The Monnet Memorandum, as this plan is known, was the basis for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and Monnet himself became the first President of the High Authority, which later evolved into the European Commission.

Having worked extensively on a European Defence Community, eventually rejected by the French Parliament, he founded the Action Committee for the United States of Europe. He continued working for European integration until his death in 1979.

To a great extent, the process of European integration has followed the approach made up by Monnet in 1949. To integrate gradually more and more economic areas in order to pave the way to the final objective: political union. Jean Monnet died in 1979.

Juan Carlos Ocaña

European Union The European Union: integration
process and European citizenship
European Unity
Spartacus Educational

2003 © Juan Carlos Ocaña