Jean Monnet and Europe

One of the fathers of Europe

From the ECSC to the United States of Europe

A life
convictions

Jean Monnet and his legacy

The union of Europe and peace

Jean Monnet was born on 9 November 1888 in Cognac. At the age of 16, he left his native land for the first time for England, then Scandinavia, Russia, Egypt, Canada and the United States, to represent his father's company. After years of travelling, he returned to France in 1914 when the First World War broke out. He immediately went into government service and proposed to the President of the Council to set up a plan to coordinate Allied war resources by bringing France and Great Britain together.

After the war, without ever having studied, Jean Monnet became one of the most respected financial experts in the world: in the 1920s, he participated in the economic recovery of certain Central and Eastern European countries; in 1929, he founded and co-chaired Bancamerica-Blair; from 1934 to 1936, he stayed in China as an advisor to Chiang Kai-shek.

When the Second World War approached, Jean Monnet was mandated by Edouard Daladier to negotiate with Washington, then London. He then inspired de Gaulle and Churchill to create a Franco-British union to confront Nazism. At the Liberation, he created a modernisation and equipment plan which enabled France to revive its economy.

In 1950, as international tensions mounted, Jean Monnet and his team conceived the European Community project. On 9 May 1950, with the agreement of Chancellor Adenauer, Robert Schuman made a proposal on behalf of the French government (drafted by Jean Monnet) to place all Franco-German coal and steel production under a common High Authority open to other European countries. The FRG, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands immediately responded favourably. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was thus born, laying the foundations for the European Community. In 1952, Jean Monnet became the first President of the High Authority.

After the failure of the European Defence Community (EDC), Jean Monnet founded the Action Committee for the United States of Europe. Bringing together European political parties and trade unions, the Committee became a breeding ground for initiatives in favour of European integration, such as the creation of the common market, the common monetary system, the European Council, British membership and the election of the European Parliament by universal suffrage.

For his efforts to bring European countries closer together, on 2 April 1976 Jean Monnet was awarded the title of "Honorary Citizen of Europe" by the Heads of State and Government meeting in the European Council. He had already retired from politics and was writing his memoirs at his home in Houjarray.

On 16 March 1979, he died at the age of ninety-one. His ashes are now buried in the Pantheon in Paris.

Jean Monnet

1888

November

Birth in Cognac

1906

1914

Representation of the family business abroad

1914

1918

Management of the Franco-British ship pool in London

1919

1923

Appointment to the post of Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations

© Jean France La Photographie Belge

1923

1927

Return to the struggling family business

© Poitou-Charentes Region - M. Deneyer, 1988.
c

1927

1928

Participation in the economic recovery of some Eastern European countries, contribution to the stabilisation of the zloty in Poland and the leu in Romania

1929

1934

Founded and co-chaired a major US bank in San Francisco, Bancamerica-Blair Corporation

1934

1936

Chiang Kai-sheck's special advisor in China takes up his post

1938

1938

Special mission as secret envoy of the President of the Council, Edouard Daladier, to the United States to buy American warplanes

1940

1940

Proposal for a total Franco-British union; sent to Washington by the British to negotiate the purchase of military equipment

1942

1942

Victory Program" initiative: America becomes the "arsenal of democracy

US National Archives -(1953 Marshall Plan)
Vignal Mourier, Alger – Source Fondation Jean Monnet pour l’Europe, Lausanne

1943

June

Special mission to Algiers, participation alongside de Gaulle in the Provisional Government of the French Republic until 1945

Vignal Mourier - Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe, Lausanne

1946

January

Foundation and management of the Commissariat au Plan to equip and modernise France

AFP

1950

1952

Design of a coal-steel pool project between France and Germany

USA/SRE, Paris - Source Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe, Lausanne

1952

1955

Presidency of the ECSC High Authority

1955

June

Resignation from the presidency of the ECSC and foundation of the Action Committee for the United States of Europe

© Intercontinental / Afp – AFP

1975

1979

Retirement from political life and writing of memoirs (published in 1976)

1979

March

Death in Houjarray (16 March)

1988

November

Transfer to the Pantheon (9 November)

AFP

Jean Monnet Association

Bringing Jean Monnet's European ideas to life in the present

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