Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet
(ʒɑ̃ mɔnɛ; 9 November 1888 – 16 March 1979) was a French political economist and diplomat. He is regarded by many as a chief architect of European Unity and is regarded as one of its founding fathers
The Founding Fathers of the European Union are a number of men who have been recognised as making a major contribution to the development of European unity and what is now the European Union. There is no official list of founding fathers or a single event defining them so some ideas vary.-Europe's...
. Never elected to public office, Monnet worked behind the scenes of American and European governments as a well-connected pragmatic internationalist
Monnet was born in Cognac
Cognac is a commune in the Charente department in southwestern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.-Geography:Cognac is situated on the river Charente between the towns of Angoulême and Saintes. The majority of the town has been built on the river's left bank, with the smaller right...
Charente is a department in southwestern France, in the Poitou-Charentes region, named after the Charente River, the most important river in the department, and also the river beside which the department's two largest towns, Angoulême and Cognac, are sited.-History:Charente is one of the original...
, into a family of cognac merchants. At the age of sixteen, he abandoned his university-entrance examinations part way through and moved to London where he spent some years in the City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...
with Mr. Chaplin, the agent of his father's company. Subsequently, he travelled widely – to Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...
, Russia, Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...
, Canada, and the United States – for the family business.
World War I
Monnet believed that the only path that would lead to an Allied victory lay in the merging of France and Britain's
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....
war efforts and he reflected on a concept that would co-ordinate war resources. In 1914, young Monnet was allowed to meet French Premier René Viviani
Jean Raphaël Adrien René Viviani was a French politician of the Third Republic, who served as Prime Minister for the first year of World War I. He was born in Sidi Bel Abbès, in French Algeria. In France he sought to protect the rights of socialists and trade union workers.-Biography:His...
on this issue. The French government agreed in principle upon his plans. During the first years of the war Monnet had not much success, promoting and pressing internationally for a better organization of the allied economic cooperation. However, finally, stronger combines like the Wheat Executive (end of 1916) and the Allied Maritime Transport Council
The Allied Maritime Transport Council was an international agency created during World War I to coordinate shipping between the allied powers of France, Italy, Great Britain, and the United States. The council was formed at a conference in Paris in November 1917, with each nation appointing its...
(end of 1917) were set into work and had a big share in winning the war.
At the Paris Peace Conference
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...
, Monnet was an assistant to the French minister of commerce and industry, Etienne Clémentel, who proposed a "new economic order" based on European cooperation. The scheme was officially rejected by the Allies in April 1919.
Due to his contributions to the war efforts, Monnet, at the age of thirty-one, was named Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...
upon its creation in 1919 by French premier Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...
and British statesman Arthur Balfour
Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC, DL was a British Conservative politician and statesman...
Soon disillusioned with the League because of its laborious unanimous decision-making processes, Monnet resigned in 1923 in order to devote himself to managing the family business, which was experiencing difficulties. He returns into international politics and, as an international financier, he proved to be instrumental in the economic recovery of several Central
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...
and Eastern European nations, helping to stabilise the Polish
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...
zloty in 1927 and the Romanian leu
The leu is the currency of Romania. It is subdivided into 100 bani . The name of the currency means "lion". On 1 July 2005, Romania underwent a currency reform, switching from the previous leu to a new leu . 1 RON is equal to 10,000 ROL...
in 1928. In 1929, his experience in international finance led him to found and co-manage the Bancamerica-Blair
, a bank in San Francisco. From 1934 to 1936, at the invitation of Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....
, Monnet lived in China, assisting with the reorganization of the Chinese railway network.
World War II
In December 1939, Monnet was sent to London to oversee the collectivization of British and French war production capacities. Monnet's influence inspired Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....
and Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...
to accept a plan for a union of France and the United Kingdom to rival the Pact of Steel
The Pact of Steel , known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany signed on May 22, 1939, by the foreign ministers of each country and witnessed by Count Galeazzo Ciano for Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop...
alliance between Germany and Italy.
In August 1940, Monnet was sent to the United States by the British Government as a member of the British Supply Council, in order to negotiate the purchase of war supplies. Soon after his arrival in Washington, D.C., he became an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...
. Convinced that America could serve as "the great arsenal of democracy" he persuaded the president to launch a massive arms production program to supply the Allies with military material. Shortly thereafter, in 1941, Roosevelt, with Churchill's agreement, launched the Victory Program, which represented the entry of the United States into the war effort. After the war, the British economist John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...
was to say that through his co-ordinating Monnet had probably shortened World War II by one year.
In 1943, Monnet became a member of the National Liberation Committee, the would-be French government in exile in Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...
. During a meeting on 5 August 1943, Monnet declared to the Committee:
"There will be no peace in Europe, if the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty... The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation..."
The Monnet Plan
Following World War II France was in severe need of reconstruction. To rebuild, France was completely dependent on coal from Germany's main remaining coal-mining areas, the Ruhr area
The Ruhr, by German-speaking geographers and historians more accurately called Ruhr district or Ruhr region , is an urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With 4435 km² and a population of some 5.2 million , it is the largest urban agglomeration in Germany...
and the Saar area. (The German coal fields in Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...
had been handed over for "Polish administration" by the Allies in 1945, see Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...
In 1945 Monnet proposed the Monnet plan
The Monnet plan was proposed by French civil servant Jean Monnet after the end of World War II. It was a reconstruction plan for France that proposed giving France control over the German coal and steel areas of the Ruhr area and Saar and using these resources to bring France to 150% of pre-war...
, also known as the theory of l’engrenage, not to be confused with Schuman plan
The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 was a governmental proposal by then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman to create a new form of organization of States in Europe called a supranational Community. Following the experiences of two world wars, France recognized that certain values such as...
, to take control of the remaining coal-producing German areas and redirect the production away from German industry and into French industry instead, permanently weakening Germany and raising the French economy considerably above its pre-war levels. The plan was adopted by Charles de Gaulle in early 1946.
In 1947 France, with U.S. support, removed the Saar from Germany and turned it into the Saar protectorate
The Saar Protectorate was a German borderland territory twice temporarily made a protectorate state. Since rejoining Germany the second time in 1957, it is the smallest Federal German Area State , the Saarland, not counting the city-states Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen...
, nominally politically independent and under complete French economic control. The area returned to German political administration in 1957 (economic reunification would take many years longer), but France retained the right to mine from its coal mines until 1981 (see The Europeanization of the Saarland).
The Ruhr Agreement was imposed on the Germans as a condition for permitting them to establish the Federal Republic of Germany (see also the International Authority for the Ruhr
The International Authority for the Ruhr was an international body established in 1949 by the Allied powers to control the coal and steel industry of the Ruhr Area in West Germany....
(IAR)). The IAR controlled production levels, pricing, and to where the output was to be sold, thus ensuring that France received a large portion of the Ruhr coal production at low prices.
With the 1951 German agreement to join the European Coal and Steel Community
The European Coal and Steel Community was a six-nation international organisation serving to unify Western Europe during the Cold War and create the foundation for the modern-day developments of the European Union...
(the "Schuman plan") the ongoing Allied dismantling of German industry was finally stopped and some of the restrictions placed on German industrial output were lifted (see The British foreign ministers' 1949 letter to Schuman
With the entry into force of the ECSC in 1952 the last civilian production limitations placed on German industry were lifted, and the role of the IAR was taken over by the ECSC (see The industrial plans for Germany).
A European ideal
As the head of France's General Planning Commission, Monnet was the real author of what has become known as the 1950 Schuman Plan to create the European Coal and Steel Community
The European Coal and Steel Community was a six-nation international organisation serving to unify Western Europe during the Cold War and create the foundation for the modern-day developments of the European Union...
(ECSC), forerunner of the Common Market.
European Coal and Steel Community
Following liberation, Monnet proposed a "global plan for modernization and economic development" to the French government.
Appointed Planning Commissioner by de Gaulle, he oversaw the revitalization of the French economy.
It was from this position that, in 1949, Monnet realized that the friction between Germany and France for control of the Ruhr
The Ruhr is a medium-size river in western Germany , a right tributary of the Rhine.-Description:The source of the Ruhr is near the town of Winterberg in the mountainous Sauerland region, at an elevation of approximately 2,200 feet...
, the important coal and steel region, was rising to dangerous levels, presaging a possible return to hostilities as had happened after the First World War.
Monnet and his associates conceived the idea of a European Community.
On 9 May 1950, with the agreement of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...
of West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....
, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman
Robert Schuman was a noted Luxembourgish-born French statesman. Schuman was a Christian Democrat and an independent political thinker and activist...
made a declaration in the name of the French government. This declaration, prepared by Monnet for Schuman, proposed integration of the French and German coal and steel industries under joint control, a so-called High Authority
The High Authority was the executive branch of the former European Coal and Steel Community . It was created in 1951 and disbanded in 1967 when it was merged into the European Commission.-History:...
, open to the other countries of Europe. Schuman declared:
"Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation, imperative for the preservation of peace."
Shortly thereafter, West Germany, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
, Belgium, Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...
, and the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...
responded favorably, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was born.
Britain was invited to participate, but it refused on grounds of national sovereignty.
In 1952, Jean Monnet became the first president of the High Authority. In 1953 Monnet was awarded the Karlspreis
- See also :*Charlemagne*European integration*Leipzig Human Rights Award, originally called the "Alternative Charlemagne Award", formed in opposition to Clinton's recognition with the award- External links :* http://www.karlspreis.de/ *...
by the city of Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...
in recognition of his achievements.
In 1955, Monnet founded the Action Committee for the United States of Europe in order to revive European construction following the failure of the European Defense Community (EDC).
It brought political parties and European trade unions together to become a driving force behind the initiatives which laid the foundation for the European Union as it eventually emerged: first the European Economic Community (EEC) (1958) (known commonly as the "Common Market"), which was established by the Treaty of Rome
The Treaty of Rome, officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, was an international agreement that led to the founding of the European Economic Community on 1 January 1958. It was signed on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany...
of 1957; later the European Community (1967) with its corresponding bodies, the European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....
and the European Council of Ministers, British membership in the Community (1973), the European Council (1974), the European Monetary System
There are three stages of monetary cooperation in the European Union.-Background:European currency exchange rate stability has been one of the most important objectives of European policy makers at least since the Second World War....
(1979), and the European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...
(1979). This process reflected Monnet's belief in a gradualist
approach for constructing European unity.
On 6 December 1963, Monnet was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...
, with Special Distinction, by President Lyndon Johnson. After retiring to his home in Houjarray, Bazoches-sur-Guyonne
Bazoches-sur-Guyonne is a commune in the Yvelines department in north-central France.-References:*...
, Monnet wrote his memoirs.
He died in 1979 at the age of 90. In 1988, by order of the president François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...
, Jean Monnet's remains were transferred to the Panthéon
-Mythology:* Pantheon , the set of gods belonging to a particular mythology* Pantheon * Pantheon, Rome, now a Catholic church, once a temple to the gods of ancient Rome* Any temple dedicated to an entire pantheon-Other buildings:...
In August 1929, during a dinner party in Paris, the 41-year-old Monnet met the 22-year-old Italian painter Silvia Giannini (born in Bondini in 1907). She had recently (6 April 1929) married Francisco Giannini, an employee of Monnet when he was a representative in Italy.
In April 1931, Silvia had a child, Anna. Legally, the father was Francisco Giannini.
Divorce was not allowed in France and many other European countries at that time. In 1934, Silvia and Jean Monnet met in Moscow; he had come from China via the Trans-Siberian, she from Switzerland. He arranged for Silvia to obtain Soviet citizenship; she immediately divorced her husband and married Jean Monnet.
The idea for the Moscow marriage came from Dr. Ludwik Rajchman, whom Monnet met during his time at the League of Nations (Rajchman was connected to the Soviet Ambassador to China, Bogomolov). It seems that the American and French ambassadors in Moscow, William Bullitt
William Christian Bullitt, Jr. was an American diplomat, journalist, and novelist. Although in his youth he was considered something of a radical, he later became an outspoken anticommunist.-Early years:...
and Charles Aiphand, also played a role.
The custody of Anna was a problem; in 1935 Silvia took refuge with Anna in the Soviet consulate in Shanghai, where they were living at the time, because Francisco Giannini was trying to obtain custody of the child. The legal battle continued with a ruling in favour of Silvia in 1937 in New York, but this was not recognized in some other countries. In 1941, they had another child, Marianne. The Monnet family returned to France in 1945.
After the death of Francisco Giannini in 1974, they married canonically in the cathedral of Lourdes
Lourdes is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in south-western France.Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees, famous for the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes occurred in 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous...
The Jean Monnet Building of the European Commission,
rue Albert Wehrer, L-2920 Luxembourg is named after him.
Jean Monnet's memory lives on in a considerable number of European universities including the University of Limerick
The University of Limerick is a university in Ireland near the city of Limerick on the island's west coast. It was established in 1972 as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick and became a university by statute in 1989 in accordance with the University of Limerick Act 1989...
, Ireland, which has a lecture theatre named in honor of Jean Monnet and also holds regular summer schools
upon the topic of European Integration. British universities which honor Monnet include the East Midlands Eurocenter
at Loughborough University, the European Research Institute
at the University of Bath, the Jean Monnet Center
at the University of Birmingham, the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence
at Cambridge, the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence
at the University of Essex, the Centre for European Union Studies
at the University of Hull, the Kent Centre for Europe
at the University of Kent, the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence
, a partnership between the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, the Jean Monnet Centre
at Newcastle University and the Jean Monnet Centre for European Studies
at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
In April 2011, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris, a new documentary "Jean Monnet: Father of Europe"
was produced. The documentary includes interviews with Monnet colleagues such as Georges Berthoin, Max Kohnstamm, Jacques-René Rabier as well as former member of the European Court of Justice David A.O. Edward of the United Kingdom.
The European Union itself maintains his memory with the Jean Monnet Programme
of the Directorate-General for Education and Culture. This aims to promote knowledge on European integration on a worldwide scale, especially at the university level.