Chapter 3: The Battle for Europe

10. “Europe cannot be other than Federal”
On the first of June 1965, the Paris region of the EFM organised a dinner-debate with Gaston Defferre, mayor of Marseilles and candidate in the elections for the Presidency of the French Republic. Opening the discussion, Etienne Hirsch said to him: “Last October, at the Congress of the European Municipalities in Rome, you saw militant federalism at work. Thanks to their dynamism, the Congress voted for a political resolution that expresses in strong terms our objectives for a “Federal Europe.” “The Europe we want to create cannot be other than federal”, replied Gaston Defferre. It was another stage in the action begun about a year earlier. On the one hand Max Paillet in a book on Left, Year Zero had fully introduced the theme of Europe as the indispensable basis for a modern democracy. Moreover some federal­ists had contributed to a work titled “Mister X” that led to speculation about de Gaulle’s next opponent at the presidential elections. Subsequently it was Defferre himself who revealed that he was that candidate. On the other hand, in France the EFM had created one of the seven Clubs that formed the Convention of Republican Institutions, the Democratic Front for a Federal Europe. On 7 June 1964 I had the privilege of attending the meeting of this Convention of Republican Institutions in the old Orsay Station, where the museum has its site today. The assembly was laid out in accordance with the French Revolution usage: two long platforms on the sides and at the two ends, on one part the chairman of the meeting and on the other the speakers. There were photographers who remained more or less unobtrusive and I wondered if, as a non-Frenchman, I might have a surprise, particularly at that time when office meetings of the EFM were held there had been police intelligence gathering visits. But nothing special had ever happened.
The clubs and the convention became the lever and the starting point from which Francois Mitterrand and his collaborators rebuilt the Socialist Party in France, and on this basis the President was able to open the majority to the Communist Party. At this point a large group of federalists, given their more centrist leanings, preferred to drop out and the activity of the Front lost a part of its incisive character. On the other hand, however, it was the European option that allowed Mitterrand to have a very visible and autonomous point of reference when faced with the left wing and the Communists, while collaborating with them. This op­­eration was particularly important and delicate given that the French Communists had never developed a position or a positive European initiative. On this level the Italian Communists had for years been well ahead, thanks to the influence of Altiero Spinelli.
At the Convention of Republican Institutions of 1964 the final resolution was declared. “Political Europe must establish a federal government, democratically designated, which is the left’s objective in Europe”.
For their part the more moderate French European federalists at the time of the presidential elections lined up behind Lecanuet, who thus reinforced the old European tradition begun after the war with the MRP, Christian Democracy in its French version, of which Robert Schumann had been part.

11. Rebuilding Federalist Unity
After the Congress of Montreux in 1964 I organised the one in Turin in 1966 and the one in Trieste in 1969, at the end of which I resigned. A Belgian Flemish activist, Ludo Dierickx, took my place. He would later take part in another battle, that of the start of the Environment movement, and at one point he was also elected to the Belgian Parliament for the Greens Party.
Subsequent to Montreux I undertook the reconstruction of the bases of European federal­ists’ unity. After several contacts in Frankfurt with the European Union of Germany, led at that time by Karl-Heinz Koppe, then in the Netherlands with Molenaar and others, we suc­ceeded in establishing a contact committee between the EFM and the AEF (Action Européenne Fédéraliste) at Basle, on 30th January 1965.
At a meeting in Bonn that took place sometime later, a delegation of the two federalist organisations was received in the seat of the German Parliament by the President of the Federal Republic in person, Mr. Scheele. “Wilkommen Herr General Sekretär” – Welcome Mister Secretary General, he said to me very cordially. I could not help but think that the day before I had been using a calculator to calculate the quantity of fertilisers sold in Europe during that week.
Strong support for this whole operation was furnished by the Swiss European Union, and in particular by its Central Secretary, Thomas Raeber, who would later become ambassador. The final reconstruction of the UEF (Union of European Federalists) came about after my departure, but it was also about knowing what could be done together. In any event, in order  to subsequently negotiate better, from 1963 I tried to maintain and develop the contacts and initiatives with those sections in the areas where the AEF were in the majority, especially in Germany (whereas in Austria the EFM had always remained in the majority): After the war Eugen Kogon was a partner of  Frenay and of Spinelli in the UEF, followed by Friedlander, a famous journalist whose daughter, Katharina Focke, senior manager of a European and federalist centre in Cologne, later became the Federal Minister of Family Affairs in the Bonn Social Democratic Government. Claus Schöndube had long been the diamond point of the EFM in Frankfurt and had developed groups in Lubeck and the Black Forest. Long term president of the AEF and more importantly the founder of the College of Europe in Brussels, Hendrik Brugmans, completed, together with Denis de Rougemont and Alexandre Marc, the cutting edge trio of federalist intellectuals of Europe, the bearers of a real plan for society.
During all my years of work as Secretary General I tried to find points of collaboration with Altiero Spinelli and I often met with him, for example at the meetings of the Club REP (Realtà Europea del Presente) made lively by Jean Gouzy and Raymond Rifflet, at which many political leaders such as Michel Rocard took part. Instead when it came to the movements, after the experience of the Congress of the European People, he thought that their activities should take place within the parameters of, and in relation to, the European Community, and later the European Parliament. He had also asked me to join him in Rome when he founded the IAI (Institute of International Affairs). On the one hand it was impor­tant to me to maintain my hands on activities within the reality of economic life, and on the other I was hoping for a miracle for the federalist movements. I was thinking for example of a synergy between federalism and ecology, and between federalism and the new economy of which I will speak later.
Altiero Spinelli, the great Resistance fighter, who had spent 16 years in prison and confinement on the island of Ventotene under Fascism, where he had the courage to rethink his revolutionary commitment in European federalism terms, continued his activities at the Crocodile Club in Brussels insisting that the Members of the European Parliament be fully aware of their mission to create the Constituent Assembly of Europe. All this while becoming a member of the Brussels Commission and seeking to give an example through the appointment of an Englishman, Christopher Layton, as Cabinet Secretary. Spinelli would carry on his battle, personifying, with his square head, white hair and beard, the classic image of a great prophet.
Among my other initiatives I can recall that in 1968 I published a book in French on Europe and Space, published by the European Research Centre, Lausanne, and headed by Henri Rieben.
On the one hand I wanted to look into the possibility of carrying out research in this field at the Battelle Institute where I was working. On the other hand I thought it useful to bring to the attention of the European Community a sector, i.e. space, which, despite the doubts it still aroused, would sooner or later become an essential element of world development at all levels.
Finally I wish to recall a great and symbolic gesture made by the Bologna section in 1965. For every federalist the construction of Europe had to encompass the creation of a single currency. In Bologna symbolic coins with the name Euro were minted. A well chosen name! There was a one euro coin in silver and others of 5 and 10 euros in gold.
I like to think that now that the Euro is a reality, the importance, not only economic but political and social, of this absolutely fundamental initiative, will be understood as one of those decisive steps on which the new civilisation is founded. How lucky am I to have lived that day, 1st January 2002! I felt like Christopher Columbus the day he discovered America. No one realised at that time how the world would change.

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