France’s Broken Dream

The European project has clearly failed to achieve what French political leaders have wanted from the beginning: instead of a sense of amity an unity in Europe, there is conflict. And, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel setting conditions for the eurozone, France’s ambition to dominate European policy has been thwarted.

CAMBRIDGE – The crisis in the eurozone is the result of France’s persistent pursuit of the “European project,” the goal of political unification that began after World War II when two leading French politicians, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, proposed the creation of a United States of Europe.

Monnet and Schuman argued that a political union similar to America’s would prevent the types of conflict that had caused three major European wars – an appealing idea, but one that overlooked America’s horrific Civil War. A European political union could also make Europe a power comparable to the United States, and thereby give France, with its sophisticated foreign service, an important role in European and world affairs.

The Monnet-Schuman dream led to the 1956 Treaty of Rome, which established a small free-trade area that was later expanded to form the European Economic Community. Establishing the EEC had favorable economic effects, but, like the North American Free Trade Area, it did not reduce national identification or create a sense of political unity.

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