We need the new Europe more than it needs us
FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT
PEYTON V. LYON SAYS
THE MOST EXCITING and encouraging political movement of our time is the growing unity of the “Six” countries of Western Europe — France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Canadians, however, have shown little interest. They prefer to dwell on alarming developments, such as the crises in the Congo. Cuba or Laos. With their dated prejudices, and lack of imagination, they seem to think that a federation embracing both France and Germany is too improbable to be taken seriously.
The few Canadians who have heeded the European movement tend to regard it as an immoral conspiracy to make life complicated for our exporters. The standard Canadian pronouncement on the subject begins with a trite, brief expression of support, followed by copious qualifications, doubts, fears, warnings and homilies on the virtue of free trade. Recently. Finance Minister Fleming has added tough words about the alleged threat to our interests entailed by the British flirtation with the Six. The net effect of Canadian statements must be, I fear, to create the impression of deep suspicion of. if not hostility to, European union.
There are certainly grounds for concern about our exports, especially agricultural. It makes a good deal of difference if the Six are sympathetic or unsympathetic to Canadian interests when framing their tariff and agricultural policies. How can we best influence the Six to be considerate? By tough bargaining? Hardly. We can’t blast our way into the European market. We need it much more than the Six need access to our market. We are obliged, then, to rely largely on European good will, and we cannot expect this unless we demonstrate genuine sympathy with their goals.
However, with far less excuse, we seem resolved to repeat the costly errors the British now admit having made in their relations with postwar Europe. These errors were caused largely by an undue concentration upon the economics of European union, and a corresponding neglect of the more basic political and sentimental motivations.
The good “Europeans” (as the advocates of union are generally designated) value economic integration partly for its own fruits but even more as the avenue to political federation. A united Europe is the goal — a Europe worthy of its past, a Europe purged of the rancors of nationalism run rampant, a Europe again able to lead in the civilization of the globe, if no longer its domination. The Europeans do not bemoan the sacrifice of national sovereignty. They glory in it. They promote every means to a greater interdependence. They are
highly sentimental about their political vision, and resentful toward those who fail to be duly appreciative.
The “Europeans” are not blind to the practical advantages of union. They know that their 170,000,000 fellow citizens cannot achieve robust economic health unless they tear down the archaic remnants of economic nationalism and facilitate the free flow of goods, men and capital throughout their six countries. In two years, the European Common Market has stimulated a striking increase in trade and its rate of industrial growth is the highest in the world — a whopping eleven percent last year. Foreign businessmen are rushing to invest in the area. Outside governments are striving to come to terms with the new economic leviathan.
A united Europe has power
The "Europeans” also realize that, separately, their states are political has-beens. Only if they pool their resources can they hope to wield much influence in the era of the super-power and the hydrogen bomb.
Unity would permit more certain resistance to the threat of Soviet communism from without and the powerful French and Italian Communist parties from within. Further, while by no means anti-American, the Europeans see in unity the means to associate with America on terms more consistent with self-respect. They also see in unity the way to resurrect Germany without resurrecting the German menace. Even Chancellor Adenauer and other leading Germans have publicly welcomed the chaining of the Federal Republic to a larger political entity as the means to forestall further nationalistic adventures.
So, for the “Europeans,” a united Europe has solid attractions. Without their sentimental longing for union, however, their great enterprise would long ere now have bogged down in technicality. It could scarcely have recovered from the defeat of the first stab at political federation, or the veto by the French of the European army. Nor could it have survived the disappointment in the early hopes of British leadership, or the dogged resistance on the part of the devotees of that other political enchantress — la belle France.
One of the most encouraging developments has been the gradual acquisition of influence by the parliamentary assembly associated with the three economic communities. Already its members sit and act not by nationality — French, Belgian or Italian — but by party — Socialist, Christian Democrat or Liberal; the voicing of a national point of view is considered bad form. A
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For the sake of argument
“The French now seem anxious to be left alone with the Germans”
core of seasoned European politicians is being added to the substantial number of European civil servants, European technicians, European businessmen, and European jurists. 'Ehe human ingredients of a new super-state already exist.
Although public opinion in the six countries generally favors European unity, it is perhaps only a minority who are sufficiently enthusiastic to warrant the label European. But what a minority! It is sparked by men of extraordinary drive
and vision, political giants like Schuman, Spaak, Monnet, Adenauer and, at times, Churchill.
Currently the most ardent “Europeans” are found in Germany. I have seen groups of hard-bitten German politicians stirred
to great displays of sentiment by tributes to Europe—especially when expressed by a Frenchman. I have seen an ordinary movie audience brought to tears by a film portraying the efforts of Gustav Stresemann and Aristide Briand in the 1920s to reconcile France and Germany, and to lay the basis for a united Europe. This goal is the only political ideal that has caught the imagination of the youth in postwar Germany. Enthusiasm for European union is confirmed by publicopinion polls. All parties in the Bundestag voted for membership in the Common Market. Willy Brandt, the Socialist leader, is as good a European as Konrad Adenauer.
Cynics believe they understand the German enthusiasm for European unity. The 55,000,000 West Germans, they say. with their industry and persistence, are certain to dominate the union. Instead of anchoring Germany to Europe, the Europeans may be anchoring Europe to Germany— the one nation of the Six with unsatisfied territorial claims.
There are some reassuring data. For one. German industry itself does not see in the integration of the Six the best way to maximize German economic strength. The industrialists, and Economics Minister Ludwig Erhard, have shown a consistent preference for a more open economic system than the Common Market. However, Adenauer has always insisted that economic considerations take second place to the political goal of a united Europe. He suspects Erhard because of his preoccupation with sound economics — I think this accounts for Adenauer’s apparent intention to live forever, or at least long enough to frustrate Erhard’s ambition to become chancellor.
Ardent German nationalists are also lukewarm about a united Europe; they fear that it further dims the prospects for German reunification. Adenauer asserts the contrary. He claims a thriving Western Europe will act as a magnet on the .Soviet satellites, especially East Germany, if the Muscovite grip relaxes. To me, the nationalists seem to have the better of this argument.
The French attitude is also reassuring. Seven years ago they repudiated their own proposal for a European army largely because Great Britain refused to become a full member. The French feared German domination of the European Defense Community. Now they are leading the resistance to British efforts to enter the European club. They now seem anxious to be left virtually alone with the Germans. This speaks volumes for the recovery of French self-confidence under de Gaulle—and also of French confidence in the good-neighborliness of the reformed Germans.
Adenauer is having a few doubts about the French — a novel situation. He is worried by de Gaulle’s opposition to defense integration within NATO and his apparent indifference to the American presence in Europe. A choice for Adenauer between the French and the Americans would be painful. To avoid this dilemma, he is suppressing his distaste for Englishmen and invoking their support in his argument with de Gaulle. The United Kingdom may yet join Europe under German sponsorship.
There are also doubts about de Gaulle’s devotion to European union. While out of office, he opposed the various treaties creating the functional communities, and he now advocates a confederation in place of the close federation desired by the Europeans. It seems possible that he wants Europe to speak with a united voice, but only so long as that voice is the voice of Charles de Gaulle. On the other hand, de Gaulle affirms that a con-
federation, based on close co-operation between the six heads of government, is the most practical route to a more binding union. According to his spokesmen, he has now accepted the principle of a supranational political organization in which no one state would have the right of veto.
Furthermore, France under de Gaulle has honored scrupulously her commitments under the treaties he formerly opposed. Were it not for the severe economic reforms he introduced, France would probably have been obliged to exploit every escape clause to delay the establishment of the single European economy. Instead she is forcing the pace. De Gaulle may not be a “European,” but European union nevertheless owes him a great deal.
Paradoxically, de Gaulle’s design for a confederation, by necessitating a smaller sacrifice of sovereignty, should make it easier for Britain to participate. However, this is emphatically not his intention. He has no desire to share, as he would then have to, the leadership of Europe with perfidious Albion. France, under de Gaulle, has consistently impeded any rapprochement between Britain and Europe.
This has been facilitated by Britain’s earlier conduct toward the Six. Churchillian oratory did much to inspire the European movement, and the Six tried hard to accommodate British wishes by adopting, for example, the functional rather than political approach. They wanted Britain to take the leading role in Europe. However, at each stage, the British held aloof, offering a variety of excuses. Gradually the Europeans concluded that, despite lip service, the United Kingdom remains hostile to European unity, and that it is relieved whenever the integration process runs into difficulties.
A fairer assessment is that Britain wants membership in three clubs, but is unwilling to pay the full dues—at least to the European club. I don’t believe its Commonwealth commitments were inconsistent with joining Europe, but Britain also wished to retain its special relationship with the United States—the Anglo-American axis that so galls de Gaulle. Ironically, Britain lost influence in Washington precisely because she was not inside the European Community.
Nor did Britain help her cause by fostering the second trading area—the Outer Seven, consisting of a motley array of countries on the periphery of Europe. Its real purpose is to create a better bargaining position — to prevent the Six from forcing each of the Seven to terms, one by one. This tactic impressed some groups within the Six but it further antagonized the ardent Europeans.
What will be the dénouement in the contemporary European drama? Will Britain and Europe get together in a Hollywood finish? Now that the hero has confessed his early folly, will the heroine be forgiving and sensible? A serious world crisis would seem the likeliest means to start the wedding bells pealing. Chilly blasts last year from the Kremlin spurred Adenauer and Macmillan into rapid action. However, Khrushchov’s conduct to date has not been quite naughty enough for him to qualify as cupid.
American policies in Western Europe have been marked by generosity and high statesmanship. The Americans have pressed for a united Europe even though it seemed probable that it would then be more independent of their tutelage. They had no thought to divide and rule. In the past year, American support has become less platonic. Trade and currency difficulties have prompted requests to Europe for favors, and they have been received sympathetically. The Americans have not asked for a slowdown of the integration
process, even though it adds to their trading problems. They have, however, discouraged a merger of the Six and Seven —much to Britain’s surprise and chagrin. The Americans have also urged the Six to adopt liberal tariff policies. The Europeans have promised to oblige. Indeed, they profess free-trade principles with a fervor that is positively Canadian in intensity (and also, I fear, in sincerity).
Despite the tensions between the Six and the Seven, and within the Six itself, the European movement has gathered irreversible momentum. It is a fact with
which we must reckon. A convincing show of Canadian sympathy with European aspirations would be good business.
Why should this be so difficult? Even apart from business considerations, we have ample grounds for encouraging the growing unity, strength and health of our friends in Europe; surely we can also appreciate their excitement and pride in giving the world a demonstration of how to transcend a tragic history. Ardent nationalism has become a dangerous anachronism in the nuclear age. And yet. taking the globe as a whole, it can hardly be said
that this heady sentiment is on the wane.
Only in Western Europe is the picture more hopeful. This is the very corner of the world where nationalism was invented, a century and a half ago. Here most of the human sacrifice has been offered in its name. Here nationalism was pushed to its most malignant extremes in naziism and fascism. And it is here, at this moment, that man is beginning to outgrow this juvenile malady. Surely it should not be so difficult for us to display genuine sympathy for the constructive political pioneering of our European allies.