11. Oktober 1956: Federation of Europe

Chancellor Calls on European Nations to Ally Their Powers

By Dr. Konrad Adenauer

Bonn. It is high time for the nations of Europe to get to act in common. We must find a way to achieve a genuine European policy, as otherwise we would completely lose our position as an important group of nations in the world with regard to the new political groups that have developed. When we ask ourselves what the future of the European countries and of Europe as a whole will be, we shall only get a satisfactory answer if we do no longer look into the past but let our actions be guided by the things to come.

In my opinion, a European federation is no mere wishful thinking. The first steps toward this achievements have already been made. The several agreements which have been arrived at could be combined, and there are a lot of important questions waiting for a solution common to all so that the formation of institutions suggests itself. We must, however, learn from the experience of the last 10 years and be consequent in our actions.

We must not let this disease of our modern times, which so often has taken the incentive out of a great idea and honest strife and which is called perfectionism, take the life out of European integration before it is even born. The kind of European integration I have in mind must be flexible. It must not hinder the nations in their actions but should help them to develop their own just way of life on the basis of a common development.

Not Panacea

I do not believe that institutions of an international character would be a panacea. It will be possible to find a suitable basis which will not deter the nations from joining. It goes without saying that the formation of such a federation should not depend on the will or alleged interest of an individual member. I cannot see why we should not find a compromise which will suit us all.

If such an integration is to bear its fruits it will be of utmost importance that we Europeans do not try to consider only our own particular problems. Our politics and economic policies must be guided by the international situation. To think, judge, and act according to our own European standards is no longer up-to-date. In modern thinking, the size of the obstacles seen from a national standpoint will certainly be reduced to a more realistic value if viewed internationally.

The others in the world act, so we Europeans must decide quickly what we want to do if we do not wish to be overrun by coming events. Nobody will disagree when I say that our political and economic supremacy at the beginning of this century has since long gone. At the moment, the political and economic influence of Europe in the world is very weak. The policy of European integration after the last war had the object of eliminating the danger of any future war amongst European nations.

Actions Limited

Thus, all actions taken to achieve an integration were limited to the European geography as a matter of course. We got together to form the European Council, the Coal and Steel Community, and the West European Union, but it is doubtful if all this will be enough when we consider the political developments in the world.

It will be sufficient to point out the enormous political and economic power of the United States of America and the Soviet Union. When we consider what these two world powers are, it is hardly justified to speak of any Europeans country as a power, such as we had the right to do at the beginning of our century. If now a power and a small nation, try to make politics together, the power will automatically act as a leader and the small nation will feel dependent.

Dependency Not Good

There is no good in this for several reasons - this feeling of being dependent will wear the small nation out in the course of time. Europe as a whole must try to avoid this possibility. Although I pay great respect to the tremendous achievements of the U.S.A. in preserving peace in Europe, I feel that I must warn the European nations against making mistakes. The European nations cannot in the long run develop their powers for the sake of their peoples and humanity, as well if they continue to seek their welfare and security in the patronage of the United States of America.

On the one hand, this would gradually weaken our powers; on the other hand, the U.S.A. are certainly not willing to share the problems of Europe for any length of time on a scale which we simply cannot expect of the Americans. The necessities of life of the European nations need not always conform to the American standard of life. This is one reason why we shall occasionally find different political opinions which may lead to independent political action. We certainly cannot ask the Americans to think of European interests in the first place when they are dealing with their own problems.

I find that the integration of Europe is a necessity for all free nations. Considering the great political and economic changes in the world this is simply a must. I do not think that the number of member nations in a European federation should be limited. Europe's fate is also the fate of every European nation. The task that lies before us requires considerable political and economical foresight and courage.

The political advantages which we shall get out of such an integration will soon turn up. And after we succeed in overcoming the first difficulties our economies will also be led to advantage. This is, I believe, the only possibility for us Europeans ever to be capable of competing with the existing and future large economic areas in the world.

Quelle: The Japan Times vom 11. Oktober 1956.