Monday, November 06, 2006

Make Europe your revenge

Although the "colleagues" will be celebrating next year the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which launched what was to become the European Union, as we remarked in an earlier post, the make-or-break event occurred the year earlier, arising out of the Suez crisis.

Negotiations for the Treaty had begun in earnest in early 1956 but had, with the passage of ten months, become hopelessly stalled. None of the parties, particularly France and Germany, could see a way forward.

What broke the impasse, however, was the Suez Crisis or, more particularly, the unilateral decision by Anthony Eden on 6 November 1956 to abort the campaign, without even informing his French counterpart. German chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who was in Paris at the time consulting the French Cabinet, urged the prime minister to "make Europe your revenge".

So dramatic had been the impact of the crisis that the French did precisely that and previously insurmountable differences between them and the Germans melted away. As the deal came together, therefore, a colleague of Jean Monnet suggested, only half-jokingly, that a statue should be erected to the man who had triggered the crisis, Gamel Abdel Nasser, "the federator of Europe".

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of that fateful day – the day the "colleagues" made "Europe" their revenge.


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