After WWI, the UK Minister of Foreign Affairs , Lord Balfour, called upon the international community to “provide an effort worthy of the exceptional situation, to remediate to calamities that, adding to the horrors of war, seem more frightening than the war itself”.
The first initiative in this sense was the Commission of Epidemics that was created even before the installation of the League of Nations, which would provide material aid and scientific expertise to the countries of Eastern Europe, devastated by the typhus.
It is estimated today that there were up to 25 millions of cases and a high death rate , adding to the calamity of the flu pandemic, the famous Spanish flu.
“Everything is possible in extraordinary moments”, wrote Jean Monnet, the future “father of Europe” in his brief,” provided that we would be ready, that we would have a project at the time when everything is confused”. After WWII, there were a lot of extraordinary challenges to address, with various political, economical and social upheavals.
In June 1944, members of the French Resistance, meeting as the French Committee for the European Federation, drew up a declaration in which they affirmed their attachment to European Federalism, and defined the outlines of a united Europe of the afterwar.
In France again, the National Council of the Resistance (NCR) was the moment during which the State, citizens and the French people, took back the control of the economy. The program of the NCR was clear: the general interest should always take priority over particular interests.
The text of the program refers to the domination of the finance sector in the 30’s, the hoarding of the wealth by a minority and the betrayal by banks and elites. The members of the NCR wanted the State to have control over all key sectors for the life of the Nation: energy, health, transport, postal service.
The program of the NCR had its roots in the Popular Front of 1936 and the French Revolution. Those are political and philosophical reflections from two centuries of France’s history.
With the balance of power being favorable to these ideas, they came to power in 1945. Gaullism would be strongly inspired in its social and economical policies by the NCR’s program.
Covid-19 might result in significant changes in 2020, but the battle on the ground will be tough.
Let’s recall that the NCR was the organism that directed and coordinated the different resistance movements within France during WWII, no matter what the political tendency was.
The council was composed by representatives of the press, trade unions and members of political parties hostile to the Vichy collaborationist government since mid-1943.
European resistance movements also organized themselves during WWII for a European project and a genuine transformation within the society.
In 1941, Altiero Spinelli wrote with Ernesto Rossi and Eugenio Colorni the “Manifesto of Ventotene”, for a Free and United Europe.
In Germany, in Munich, students of the movement “the White Rose” already took position for a European Federation during WWII. Its leaders would be executed.
In 1943, the European Federalist Movement was created in Milan. The movement adopted the Manifesto of Ventotene as their program.
In 1944, the French Committee for a European Federation was created, in Lyon.
In Spring 1944, the meeting of national delegates from resistance movements all over Europe took place in Geneva, to discuss the project of European Federalism.
On 7th July 1944, the Declaration of European Resistances on the topic of federalism was issued.
Finally, the Hague Congress took place from the 7th till the 11th of May 1948. It was notably organized by associations from resistance movements against Nazism, like the Union of European Federalists and the United Europe Movement of Winston Churchill, honorary president of the Congress.
The Congress was marked by a cleavage between unionists and federalists.
The former, including Churchill, simply wanted a cooperation between States in order to solve economical difficulties and to strengthen the western camp during the nascent Cold War.
Federalists want to go further and faster and demanded a partial transfer of State’s sovereignty to a European Federation, they wanted to prioritize politics over economics.
Henri Brugmans later highlighted the “joyful, creative, and almost revolutionary atmosphere of the Congress”. The federalists were unfortunately outvoted by the unionists.
According to Denis de Rougemont, “The masters of the Congress took the European people’s parole to give it to ministers that utilized it in the way that we know it today”.
Therefore, the problem is not Europe but its supervision by the neoliberal economy with the total disregard of political construction.
The two big results of the Hague Congress were: the 5th of May 1949, the signature of the Treaty of London, that created the Council of Europe and the 9th of May 1950, the Schuman Declaration.
What did we do with our Father’s heritage? How many times did we betray the program of the National Council of the Resistance in France? How many times did we betray the program of European federalists and resistances for a United Europe?
It Is the time to ask ourselves the major questions, all of Europe demands us to do so. More Europe, and less Brussels, bring back economics to its place and the citizens to the core.
We need to remake politics; we need to rewrite a programme and we need to rewrite a project!