Category Archives: {:it}Storia dell’Europa{:}{:en}Story of Europe{:}{:de}Europäische Geschichte{:}{:fr}Histoire européenne{:}

A glance from France

60 Years after the Treaties of Rome: A French Point of View

So here we are! While not all countries are represented we did manage to get a total of 28 countries who will share in the celebrations of the past 60 years of Europe. On the 25th of March 1957, the date of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, just 6 countries stipulated the establishment of the European Economic Community, which in 1992 became European Union. France was one of those 6 determined countries. Lead by the ideas of Jean Monnet, voiced by Robert Schuman, the French accepted this great European idea.

Seen as an instrument of peace and stability, this idea of Europe was put at the service of European countries to enable an easier and speedier reconstruction of the continent. Successive French leaders considered Europe among other things (but perhaps most of all) as a springboard towards greater power and influence on the European stage. Love for the French fatherland, protection of national values and French influence characterised the French actions throughout the process of European integration. As recalled by General De Gaulle in 1954: touching French sovereignty was not part of the “European contract”. France has maintained this same attitude to date.

The great French Founding Fathers, who loved Europe as much as they loved France itself, were succeeded by an inspired lineage. Many French presidents (in the first instance Valéry Giscard d’Estaing) continued to work for the European cause. D’Estaing (like Jacques Delores), inherited the ideals of the Founding Fathers, allowing for a vision of a European Union of a more political character: a union of European peoples, united but respectful of diversity of each culture and religion.

In 2005, on the occasion of the treaty referendum to establish the European Constitution, the French vote expressed clearly that leaders and politics can only do so much, they are powerless without popular consent. The treaty was rejected by the majority of French people. The French could not have been clearer in their view of the Union on this occasion. This motif has been often repeated by the French since: while the European Union is necessary, more Europe would be “too much”. Why too much? Because the French just as other European peoples resist the idea of being incorporated into a supranational Europe, where there would be no distinction between a French and Italian person, where the distinction and sovereignty of each country would be absorbed by an “All-European” model.

If the French accept the current model of Europe today, it is owing to the fact that they feel valued in their identity and socio-economic order. More importantly, the French accept Europe, because they share the principle values underlying 1957: solidarity, freedom, peace and fraternity among peoples. All these values are mostly of Christian origin and represent how the French see Europe. Leaving out specific religious implications they feel attached to its moral foundations that constitute the basis of today’s Europe. Although reflecting on and claiming such values does not always translate into action – as shown by the current refugee crisis – it continues to be true that the French feel that they constitute part of this European reality.

On 25th March 2017 in Rome, the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome will be celebrated. It is a reminder of how young Europe in reality is! Various events, and conventions as well as the March for Europe which mark the occasion, will be memorable moments in themselves. Besides the need for a European political re-launch, it will become an opportunity for recalling those Christian values shared by all European peoples. These values will be, in my view, the foundation for a new launch of Europe, since they are the only ones that embody not fear but unity.



By Marie Trélat. Marie is a French student of Political Science, specialising in the European Union and Eastern and Central European related topics. Marie currently lives in Rome and attends the LUISS Guido Carli University through the Erasmus Mundus Project. She is a member of the Rome branch of JEF (Young European Federalists) and works in the area of International Relations for JEF. She also worked for the French branch of Vatican Radio for a period of 5 months.

A glance from Germany

60 YEARS SINCE THE „TREATIES OF ROME” 24th – 25th March 2017

On 25th March 1957 six European countries – Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries – decided to establish an “Economic Community” which as stated in the introduction to the agreement, was to be built on a foundation of peace, reconciliation and collaboration. The signatories were motivated by a common will to lay the grounds for an ever-closer collaboration between European countries. They were determined to safeguard economic and social development in each individual country through joint action, remove barriers of division and consolidate peace and freedom on the continent.

At the same time, other European states were invited to “join forces”.

The ultimate significance of the “Economic European Community” went well beyond a search for economic advancement. Already in the early 1950s the French Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman (1886-1963) made clear that sustainable peace in Europe could only be guaranteed through joint control over resources such as the coal and steel required in warfare.

In addition, Germany was accepted as an equal partner in the nascent community, just 12 years after the war ended.

This was a decisive step towards reconciliation on the continent in which France and Germany had a determining role.

Since 1992 the European Union has become a guarantor of political cohesion on the continent. This would have not been possible without the agreements leading to the “Economic European Community” – the “Treaties of Rome”.

Whilst the Treaties dealt in detail with issues such as import, export, customs regulation, tribunals, economic policies, free circulation of goods and establishment of commissions, it can be considered primarily as the act through which a united Europe was born.

In this, of key importance, is firstly the fact that the signatories were former enemies and secondly that the intention behind its stipulation, clearly set out in the Preamble, was that the Union should aim to eliminate barriers, safeguard peace and freedom, promote development, thereby improving conditions of life for Europeans.



Written by Sr. PD Dr. Nicole Grochowina of Christusbruderschaft Community in Selbitz (Germany). Since 2012 Sr. Grochowina has been lecturing in modern history at University of Erlangen/Nuremberg (Germany). She is a member of the Steering Committee of Together for Europe and of the Committee of experts on ecumenism of the Evangelical Church of Bavaria.

A glance from Italy


On 25th March 1957, the Treaties of Rome were signed. They are considered the inaugural act of the great European family of countries. The first treaty established the European Economic Community (EEC), whilst the second set up Euratom, aimed at joined research for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. 

The EEC Treaty brought together the signatories France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands in a Community with the objective, as stated by Art. 2, of establishing a Common market and promoting the development of optimal economic conditions for exchange and production within the Community.

There was also a political objective, to contribute towards building a new political identity for Europe, directed towards broader unification. As stated by the signatories in the preamble to the Treaty: «determined to establish the foundations of an ever-closer union among the European peoples».

The Treaties of Rome were preceded by the so-called Treaty of Paris of 1951, through which the European Community of Steel and Coal (ECSC) was established. Through shared control over these industries the aim was to avoid any potential one-sided rearming of any one member state.

The attempts to promote greater unity within the European union on political and economic fronts stemmed from the desire after the second World War to integrate European states in such a way as to render impossible another armed conflict.

«For future peace, the creation of a dynamic Europe is indispensable. (…) We must therefore abandon the forms of the past and enter the path of transformation (…). Europe has never existed. It is not the addition of sovereign nations met together in councils that makes an entity of them. We must genuinely create Europe» (Jean Monnet, Memorandum, 3th May 1950).

«World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organised and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. (…) Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity» (Robert Schuman, 9th May 1950).

«Let us build peace within and without, and in order to achieve this, let us show discipline, order, good will and hard work. Let us seek better ways to share the goods of the earth and overcome difficulties. These are part of life, but can be won, if people are ready to make sacrifices, conscious that in order to succeed a complete faith in the Divine Providence is required» (Alcide De Gasperi, 20th April 1950).

The vicissitudes of Europe, from extraordinary thrusts to sudden halts brought about in the following years the ratification of further treaties (// and the establishment of institutions among which, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe.



Written by Maria Bruna Romito, Focolare Movement. Maria Bruna holds a degree in history. From 1989 to 2000 she lived in Hungary, where she taught Italian and history at the Catholic University of Budapest. She currently lives in Rome and works at the Pontifical Council for Culture.