The Creation of the European Union – Jointly Celebrated? – Sunday, 9.5.2010

Posted on 10 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

On Saturday, 8 May 2010, we carried a headline saying: The European Union and Cambodia Jointly Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Creation of the European Union. What does such a celebration mean? At least it is a sign of recognition: Cambodia and the European Union have mutual friendly relations, even cooperation beyond financial aid, like during the two days ASEM Conference on very practical, actual problems: Forests, Forest Governance and Timber Products Trade – Scenarios and Challenges for Europe and Asia, on 4 and 5 May 2010 in Phnom Penh, and the ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting on 5 to 6 May 2010.

But even dealing with such practical questions as the handling of forest resources – how did it relate to the present campaign in Cambodia to crack down on the illegal cutting of luxury grade wood which has already identified 6,000 cubic meter of such wood, so that the authorities could confiscate it; but the question is raised in some papers that so far, the Oknhas – mostly rich businesspeople – behind this trade have not been touched, while low level operators are arrested. Have these international meetings and the joint celebration also led to exchanges about the basic values which were at the beginning of the European Union? Or which may motivate, beyond economic considerations, the further inner growth of ASEAN?

On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister of France between 1948-1952, made a programmatic speech, a proposal, which led to the creation of the European Union. It has to be noted that this was exactly 5 years after the end of the Second World War, in which France had been among the victors against Germany. This speech initiated the end of the traditional, centuries old emotional distrust and enmity between France and Germany. To construct peace.

Declaration of 9 May 1950

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.

The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

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. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.

With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point.

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.

This production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, namely, the development of the African continent. In this way, there will be realized simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.

To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases.

The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.

To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity…

The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform with the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted.

The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority’s decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.

To understand the boldness of the proposal, against all historical experience, it is necessary to highlight this section:

“The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

“The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”

The production of coal and steel – the basis for the economic strength and for the opposing military machineries – is to be taken away from the opposing national authorities and put under a common international administration, a common High Authority which is not working under the supervision of the different governments – but these governments have to work under a joint High Authority for the common good of their people, for the “the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries,” and in this way, “Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, namely, the development of the African continent,” working beyond its own narrow interests.

For 60 years, there has been no war in central Europe – because the coal and steel industry, the physical basis for a war machinery – was no more under full national sovereignty: “war between France and Germany became not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”

During the past week, tensions at the border between Thailand and Cambodia flared up again: at the Ta Krabei Temple, and at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda.

What would happen, if both Cambodia and Thailand would give up claims on what sets them against each other – like Germany and France had been facing each other as not reconcilable enemies for ages, sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both sides to death – and consider and operate the historical heritage of both countries not for confrontation, but for cooperation?

Even the whole community of ASEAN would receive a new breath of life, if two member countries could make a step – probably smaller than the end of the bloody history between Germany and France – not just to forget past tensions, but to build an irreversible path into a common future. Like the unthinkable proposal Robert Schuman made 60 years ago. Was something similarly bold like this considered in the joint celebration of the creation of the European Union?

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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