Monnet (1888 – 1979) was, if not the progenitor, at least the clever uncle of the European Union. He was an able administrator and economist who devised and became the chief commissioner of a project that bears his name, whose object was to restore the French economy by means of a centralised planning system. But he was also an internationalist who was forever campaigning for European unification.
Monnet it was who worked out the details of the Schuman Plan, before French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman put it forward. The Plan aimed (at first) to pool the resources of the coal and steel industries of France and (what was then) West Germany, following a common authority that other European nations might join. It was 9 May, 1950; this was the first indication of what should have been a mutually beneficial European common market.
The plan was effective and by 1952 the European Coal and Steel Community was formed to which Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg as well as France and West Germany belonged. Great Britain declined the offer at that time. Later when the Community was seen to work, Britain applied, but was kept out by General de Gaulle, for reasons that he was prepared to explain. It was the beginning of the EEC. Britain got in, but refused to give up the pound starling, in 1973.
Monnet was the first President of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (1952 – 55). He died in 1979 at ninety-one, a great age. Had he been much younger, and had seen the way the Common Market (later the EEC) evolved, Monnet might have been bewildered, offended and finally sick. His ideal was the United States, and he had hoped to design a sort of United States of Europe. He used to stress three principal points about the united Europe he dreamed of: first, that the Union must be connected and constructed with the US: second, that it must have the barest minimum of regulations, as befits a free market: third, that it should employ the minimum of bureaucrats, and that these should be purely voluntary. None of these notions has been followed. In fact the exact opposite has occurred.
I quote Charles Moore, ex-editor of The Spectator and Daily Telegraph: ‘In 1998, I gave a lecture to the Institute of Directors about why the European Single Currency was a bad idea. As I prepared the text, I can remember my pen hovering over these words in the draft: “Since this (The Maastricht Treaty) means that unelected bankers in Frankfurt will have the power to make millions of people in, say, Andalucía and Sicily and Marseilles unemployed, it is unsustainable. The anger against such power would be so great that it could provoke violence, encouraged by extreme nationalists and socialists. The idea that a rich foreign banker is making you poor and jobless is explosive.” The reason I hesitated was that people might laugh at me for suggesting that violence might result from EMU. Luckily, I let the sentences stay.’ Moore also had this to say: ‘It was disturbing, last year (he was writing in May, 2012) that unelected leaders were forced by the European authorities upon Italy and Greece. It is disturbing that entire states, such as Ireland, are mortgaged to European control in order to save banks. It is disturbing that as a result of cheap over-borrowing, misleadingly guaranteed by the euro, nearly half the youth of southern Europe is now unemployed. Above all, it is disturbing that the eurozone’s leaders answer to this, the biggest disaster of the continent in my lifetime, is “more Europe”’
The European Community fashioned itself a Parliament in Brussels, to which all the failed or difficult politicians from each member country flocked. Running it costs an immense fortune, wasted in super-bureaucratic mal-administration. In addition to the parliament there is a Commission in Strasbourg, known for the worst bureaucracy and idiotic stalemates in history. The Community has never even tried to co-operate with the United States, indeed many of its leaders are contemptuous of America and build barriers against her. The Community invents more paralysing regulations daily, though there are already thousands making life and work more difficult by the minute and freedom for no-one It was not Monnet’s intention to build a vast bureaucracy, or insist on government from Brussels or Strasbourg. He wanted a free market for goods, and freedom to live and work in any member country without hardship or restraint. Instead, every European has to obey mandarins they do not know anything about and have not elected.