EUROPEAN PAPERS ON THE NEW WELFARE

Chapter 3: The Battle for Europe

8. The Congress of Montreux in 1964
My first great organisational effort was arranging the tenth congress of the EFM from 10 to 12 April, the second in Montreux, in 1964. It was in this city, on the lake of Geneva or Limona that the first European Federalists’ Congress meeting had taken place in 1947. It constituted a call and a hope for a relaunch.
At that time although it was 1961 the Montreux Palace’s prices were still modest. This was also because it could count on the participation of 300 to 400 delegates. Against a background that went symbolically well beyond the financial reality of the time the tenth congress of its history managed to take place normally. Everyone paid their own travel, hotel and meal expenses. All the work was done voluntarily. As a result there were no financial risks in­­volved. So reasonable the prices obtained from the hotel were that they can only be dreamed of today. I had played on the image, the memory of 1947 and Swiss style federalism to obtain good reductions.
I had also managed to get a number of the old heroes of European federalism, such as Henri Frenay and Jeanne Hersch to come. Alexandre Marc fought with his friends to have the “federalist card” approved. In Italy Mario Albertini took the helm of Italian federalist radical­ism ingrained with the so-called “Hamiltonian” tradition: the arguments used by Alexander Hamilton to promote the American federation were picked up and brushed off for the European battle. Taking into account the fact that the Congress of the European People was running out of steam and that the Community of Brussels was developing, Altiero Spinelli had distanced himself from the activity of the EFM and Albertini, professor at Pavia and his ex-collaborator, had turned his criticism on him. Albertini’s new European strictness was not always easy to manage in the whole movement. But he did manage to mobilise a group of intelligent young people who were seeking a good cause and activity to commit themselves to. These were concentrated in Milan, Genoa and Lyons. Many of them became university teachers and industrial entrepreneurs. Over several years boosted by private elections and the primaries of the Congress of the European People, they started up a new operation, the “Census of the European People”, in order to gather the maximum number of adherents to the ideal of a European federation.
At Montreux therefore there was a battle between the partisans in favour of the card and those for the Census, not to mention the other initiatives such as that of Raymond Rifflet for a European Democratic Front. This was to have an unexpected success in Rome, about six months later. Every debate at this Congress was recorded and the tapes were deposited in the European Archives in Geneva.

9. The Council of the European Municipalities – Rome, 1964
There were more than 5,000 delegates in the Palazzo degli Sport for the VII States General of European Municipalities, convened in October 1964. They came from the six countries of the European Community and they were almost all locally elected members of municipalities, cities, provinces and regions. The CEM (Council of European Municipalities) presided over by Henri Cravatte had become one of the most important organisations supported by federalists and “Europeists”. The centre had been used in 1957 by The European Movement for another great Congress aimed at accelerating the ratification votes for the Treaty of Rome, giving origin to the European Economic Community and to Euratom.
The atmosphere was experienced on great occasions. During the Congress meeting, the expulsion of Kruschev and the explosion of the first Chinese atom bomb were announced. These were enough to cause a pause for thought on the instability of the world and on the need for a united Europe.
Above all, however, a great controversy broke out concerning the action of Paul-Henri Spaak, the Belgian Prime Minister, who until then had fought a coherent European battle. Two and a half years earlier he had made a speech rejecting the official French conception of a Europe of Nations and this had caused five non-French Ministers to reject the Fouchet plan. At that moment I regretted the fact that de Gaulle had not followed the example of French leadership indicated by Jean Monnet, as acting thus, he provoked, as a reaction, nationalist stances on the part of the other partners of the Community and from that point it was no longer so obvious to all that French would be a European working language. Perhaps it was a lost opportunity.
On 11th September, 1964, probably discouraged by the controversy with the French Government at the time, Paul-Henri Spaak made a speech in front of the political committee of the Western European Union (a military alliance) and proposed using the famous Fouchet plan to carry political Europe forward. “It is appropriate that we be realists and take into consideration eventual compromises rather than having them call the final goal into question,” he said. There was an outcry from the federalists and the Congress of Rome counter-attacked. The weakness of Paul-Henri Spaak was condemned before the great European public of local elected officials.
It was the only time that I had the sensation of participating, or rather leading a public polit­ical action of great importance in which I had no experience. We had at our disposal about fifty extremely determined federalist activists who presented a hard time to many delegates in order to have them vote during the plenary assembly and who began with the following declarations:
European construction is blocked. National governments, who, rendered blind by egoism and clinging to obsolete competences, oppose development of any kind and compromise all that has been achieved with so much effort.
Europe is gravely threatened, in its democratic foundations, in its economic and political independence. Without a reaction by European citizens to profoundly change the national structures to which governments still cling, it would be possible, at most, to keep a Europe of alliances, at the mercy of whims dictated by interests.
European economic integration, so happily begun by the Community, could not have made substantial progress if a determined step toward federal organisation had not been taken: progressive extension of community competences in the fields of foreign policy, defence and culture and, in a very near future, the creation of a European federal government. Truly democratic control must be exercised by a parliament, one of whose chambers must be elected, using direct universal suffrage by every European.
Aware of the gravity of the situation the seven States General of the European Municipalities should turn to the European citizens, to every local authority, to the political and economic organisations, and to youth movements so that a Democratic Front for a “Federal Europe” might be built.
The federalists had worked well and in concert in an impressive assembly and one stamped by events. I concentrated on collecting signatures for the motion. I also had the priv­ilege of counting on an exceptional adviser, Charles Hernu who at that time was President of the Jacobin Club, who was strangely very close to the Federalists also on other occasions. He also suggested how I might use slogans in a demonstration banned by the police. Some years later he became one of Mitterrand’s Ministers and unfortunately suffered some disappointments over the Greenpeace affair.
I felt myself to be something of a carbonaro (the Carbonari were conspirators at the time of the Italian Risorgimento for national unity) when, having passed some hours with activists organising the campaign in favour of the motion, I took part in a meeting of the international council of the European Movement. They were scandalised to discover that some hotheads had infiltrated the assembly. I was stunned to hear some of those present stating that what was happening was the work of irresponsible idealists, never imagining that I was one of them. They thought that Spaak did his best in the situation at that time, but in fact it was this very situation that the federalist activists had slightly changed. Actually the members of that council were annoyed by the fact that their pride over being in charge had suffered a blow on that occasion.


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