Britain and the Community: The Right Way Forward

  • Nevil Johnson


The Community is in a profound sense a French construction. It was invented by a Frenchman, Jean Monnet, and its institutional structures and methods are predominantly French. When in 1950 the proposal for the Coal and Steel Community was launched the principal aim of its advocates was to protect France and its immediate neighbours against the risks of the unilateral re-birth of a powerful and potentially independent German coal and steel industry. It was to be a way of tying German heavy industry (still seen as crucial to any military revival) to that of France, the Benelux countries and Italy, and thus of ‘internationalising’ in a new and original way one important element in the reconstruction of the German economy. But there was a further crucial dimension to this initiative. Politically the decision taken by Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer was seen by both as a vital first step towards the achievement of an enduring Franco-German reconciliation. For France it offered a prospect of security, for the new West German state it paved the way towards early and wholehearted re-admission to the European family of nations. Fatefully, Britain refused to contemplate joining the new Coal and Steel Community, chiefly because it was not clear what it was being asked to sign up for, and anyway the Labour Government at that time was quite sure that Britain did not need to subject its basic industries to the kind of constraints proposed by its continental neighbours. Furthermore, the British Government was given such short notice of the plan that it could be forgiven for concluding that Paris probably did not care all that much about British participation.


European Union Member State European Central Bank European Monetary Union Legal Profession 
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Notes and References

  1. 4.
    Only when the Maastricht accords became imminent did a relatively wide-ranging and critical debate on the proposed European monetary system begin to occur in Germany. But comment then became increasingly critical, e.g. Hans D. Barbier, ‘Ein schlechter Vertrag des guten Willens’, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30 November 1992, (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Typical of the ‘functionalist’ writing which postulated a fairly automatic process of increasing integration (l’engrenage) was L. N. Lindberg, The Political Dynamics of European Integration, 1963; also E. B. Haas], Beyond the nation-state: functionalism and international organization, 1964, (Stanford, CA: Stanford University PresGoogle Scholar
  3. 8.
    The modern European state does, of course, also owe much to developments in countries other than France, though the influence of French ideas and practices in the wake of the Napoleonic conquests was especially strong. For further discussion, see K. Dyson, The State Tradition in Western Europe (Oxford: Martin Robertson, 1980).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nevil Johnson

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