chapter  2
12 Pages

DASHED EXPECTATIONS: THE TREATY OF ROME

Dutch views were often the opposite of those of Charles de Gaulle. Had he remained in office after the war, Europe would have taken a different shape. During the war, de Gaulle had of course been the leader of the Free French operating from London and from parts of the French Empire taking his, rather than the side of the Vichy Regime in mainland France collaborating with the Germans. De Gaulle held party politics responsible for the demise of France in 1940. Next to the Germans and Vichy, his enemies were the likes of Jean Monnet whom he suspected to be the fifth column of the Americans and the British in their alleged plot to subjugate the rest of the world and to dismantle the French Empire in the process (Gallo 1998). As the head of the provisional government, de Gaulle therefore as soon as possible sent troops into battle in Germany and fought tooth and nail for a French occupation zone and a seat at the negotiating table discussing the postwar settlement. When prewar French political habits re-established themselves, he left for the wilderness setting up his own political movement. On basis of his strong views on sovereignty, de Gaulle was not enamoured with the ECSC. Monnet was after all its President. Still a moral force, his strictures against the European Defence Community contributed to its rejection by the French parliament. European integration was thrown off course, which is when the Dutch Foreign Minister Beyen stepped in with a plan, named after him, for economic integration. The Dutch always wanted the UK on board, but still fixated on their Commonwealth and what they saw as their privileged partnership with the US, the UK pulled out. The Dutch, seconded by their Benelux partners, always saw economic integration as an indirect route to political integration. Weakened by its failure to get the European Defence Treaty through parliament and harassed by colonial wars the French government was not in top form in the mid-1950s. Germany wanted to be rehabilitated, seeing integration as the way to achieve this aim. The scene was set for the negotiations leading to the EEC. Ironically, in the same year when it started operating, de Gaulle came back into power. After a transition period the Treaty of Rome foresaw in Qualified Majority Voting, a procedure explained in the Introduction as implying that countries could be overruled. De Gaulle considered this an affront to sovereignty. This is the background to the dashed expectations and of Europe entering the doldrums, a period discussed in Part II, but at this point it is convenient

to already take the story of opposing visions of Europe forward. This is because, having opposed the activist Hallstein Commission, de Gaulle would subsequently promote German-French reconciliation, attending mass together with the post-war German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer at Reims Cathedral, symbol-ridden because, as mentioned, it had been bombarded by German artillery during the Great War. De Gaulle was thus not against European cooperation but his avowed idea was that of a continental Europe of sovereign fatherlands counteracting the Anglo-Saxons and this is where he encountered the Dutch Anglophiles. In albeit milder form, the issue of sovereignty which Charles de Gaulle articulated so urgently is still with us. Later it will be evident, though, that rather than as a force to be opposed, the French under President François Mitterand would regard Europe as an instrument to protect French interests and to promote French grandeur globally. The Dutch, as against this, were of a different alloy. Like their Benelux partners, once more, they had no qualms about the Common Market leading to political integration. When the Treaty of Maastricht was being negotiated under a Dutch Presidency of the European Council, they thought that the time was ripe for a much more supranational construct. With Belgium their only supporter, they got a bloody nose on what Dutch diplomatic circles called ‘Black Monday’. The Treaty of Maastricht establishing the EU was thus less ambitious, keeping foreign policy and home affairs outside the policy areas where the Community Method applied. The Dutch have turned much less enthusiastic since and this is discussed later.