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Continuity and Change in European Cooperation during the Twentieth Century


To sign the treaty creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) the foreign ministers of Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands met in Paris in April 1951. In a solemn Joint Declaration they stressed that through the newly created organisation, ‘the Contracting Parties have given their determination to set up the first supranational institution and thus lay the real foundations of an organised Europe’. The ministers represented the ECSC as a radical rupture with history, as if Europe had been completely disorganised until the new organisation's creation. In a similar vein, the ECSC Treaty emphasised the member states’ resolution ‘to substitute for historic rivalries a fusion of their essential interests; to establish, by creating an economic community, the foundation of a broad and independent community amongst peoples long divided by bloody conflicts’. Since 1951 official European Union (EU) documents and other sources have forged a similar image, one which has been undergirded by assumptions about the creation of the ‘core Europe’ of the ECSC as a collective ‘supranational’ break with a past characterised by severe ideological divisions and extreme nationalism.

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1 Joint Declaration of the Ministers signatory to the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Pool, 18 Apr. 1951, available at (last visited 22 May 2016).

2 Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, 18 Apr. 1951, available at (last visited 22 May 2016).

3 See as examples of the literature on the European idea: Hewitson, Mark and D'Auria, Matthew, eds., Europe in Crisis: Intellectuals and the European Idea, 1917–1957 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012); Spiering, Menno and Wintle, Michael, eds., Ideas of Europe since 1914: The Legacy of the First World War (New York: Palgrave, 2002); Borodziej, Wlodzimierz et al., eds., Option Europa: deutsche, polnische und ungarische Europapläne des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005); Wintle, Michael J. and Spiering, Menno, eds., European Identity and the Second World War (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); du Réau, Elisabeth, L'idée d'Europe au XXe siècle: Des mythes aux réalités (Brussels: Editions Complexe, 1996).

4 On such an understanding of Europe and Europeanisation, see Hirschhausen, Ulrike von and Patel, Kiran Klaus, ‘Europeanization and History: An Introduction’, in Conway, Martin and Patel, Kiran Klaus, eds., Europeanization and History: Concepts, Conflicts, Cohesion (New York: Palgrave, 2010), 118.

5 See, for instance, Lipgens, Walter and Loth, Wilfried, eds., Documents on the History of European Integration, 4 vols. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1985–1991). There is also an older, rich historiography on intellectuals and their contributions to the European idea. Trailblazers include, amongst others, Chabod, Federico, Storia dell'idea di Europa (Rome: Edizioni dell'Ateneo, 1959); de Rougemont, Denis, The Idea of Europe (New York: Macmillan, 1966); Hay, Denys, Europe: The Emergence of an Idea (New York: Harper & Row, 1966); Brugmans, Hendrik, L'idée européenne, 1920–1970 (Bruges: De Tempel, 1970). But, like Lipgens’ work, these studies concentrated on the history of ideas, not on any links to politics and policy making.

6 See particularly Thiemeyer, Guido and Tölle, Isabel, ‘Supranationalität im 19. Jahrhundert? Die Beispiele der Zentralkommission für die Rheinschifffahrt und des Octroivertrages 1804–1832’, Journal of European Integration History, 17 (2012), 177–96.

7 Milward, Alan S., The European Rescue of the Nation-State, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2000).

8 See Knipping, Franz and Becker, Josef, eds., Power in Europe?, Vol. I: Britain, France, Italy and Germany in a Post-War World, 1945–1950 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1986); di Nolfo, Ennio, ed., Power in Europe?, Vol. II: Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy and the Origins of the EEC, 1952–1957 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1992).

9 Ludlow, N. Piers, ‘Widening, Deepening and Opening Out: Towards a Fourth Decade of European Integration History’, in Loth, Wilfried, ed., Experiencing Europe: 50 Years of European Construction 1957–2007 (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag, 2009), 3344. For an introduction to the historiography of European integration see Kaiser, Wolfram and Varsori, Antonio, eds., European Union History: Themes and Debates (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Patel, Kiran Klaus, ‘Europäische Integrationsgeschichte auf dem Weg zur doppelten Neuorientierung: Ein Forschungsbericht’, Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, 50 (2010), 595642.

10 See particularly Kaiser, Wolfram and Schot, Johan, Writing the Rules for Europe. Experts, Cartels, and International Organizations (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); Thiemeyer, Guido, Europäische Integration: Motive – Prozesse – Strukturen (Cologne: Böhlau, 2010); Duranti, Marco, The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics, and the Origins of the European Convention (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

11 See, as an early summary of this new development, Pedersen, Susan, ‘Back to the League of Nations’, American Historical Review, 112, 4 (2007), 1091–117. See also Gorman, Daniel, The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Sluga, Glenda and Clavin, Patricia, eds., Internationalisms: A Twentieth-Century History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

12 McDougall, Walter A., ‘Political Economy versus National Sovereignty: French Structures for German Economic Integration after Versailles’, Journal of Modern History, 51, 1 (1979), 22.

13 Covering a particular societal and policy challenge, see Kaiser, Wolfram and Meyer, Jan-Henrik, eds., International Organizations and Environmental Protection. Conservation and Globalization in the Twentieth Century (New York: Berghahn, 2017); Sluga, Glenda, Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013); Mazower, Mark, Governing the World: The History of an Idea (New York: Penguin Press, 2012); Special Issue: ‘Internationale Ordnungen und neue Universalismen im 20. Jahrhundert’, Studies in Contemporary History, 8, 3 (2011); Mazower, Mark, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009).

14 MacKenzie, David, A World Beyond Borders: An Introduction to the History of International Organizations (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2010); Iriye, Akira, Global Community: The Role of International Organization in the Making of the Contemporary World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

15 See also the special forum ‘Visions of European Integration across the Twentieth Century’, Contemporary European History, 26, 2 (2017).

16 See, as an overview of the German debate, Christoph Kleßmann, ‘1945 – welthistorische Zäsur und “Stunde Null”’, Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte, available at (last visited 22 May 2016); as a recent example of this genre, see Buruma, Ian, Year Zero: A History of 1945 (London: Atlantic Books, 2013).

17 See, as a recent summary, Judt, Tony, Post-War: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York: Penguin, 2005), 1399; see also Nützenadel, Alexander and Schieder, Wolfgang, eds., Zeitgeschichte als Problem: Nationale Traditionen und Perspektiven der Forschung in Europa (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004) and, as an example for one specific country, Nord, Philip, France's New Deal: From the Thirties to the Postwar Era (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012).

18 A term first used in this context by Misa, Thomas J. and Schot, Johan, ‘Inventing Europe: Technology and the Hidden Integration of Europe’, History and Technology, 21, 1 (2005), 120.

19 On the OECD see Leimgruber, Matthieu and Schmelzer, Matthias, eds., The OECD and the International Political Economy since 1948 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017); Schmelzer, Matthias, The Hegemony of Growth. The OECD and the Making of the Modern Growth Paradigm (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

20 See, for example, Badenoch, Alexander and Fickers, Andreas, eds., Materializing Europe: Transnational Infrastructures and the Project of Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Lagendijk, Vincent, Electrifying Europe: The Power of Europe in the Construction of Electricity Networks (Amsterdam: Aksant, 2008).

21 Wolfrum, Rüdiger, ‘International Administrative Unions’, in Wolfrum, Rüdiger, ed., Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 335–44; Robert Kolb, ‘History of International Organizations or Institutions’, in ibid., 1–11.

22 Patel, Kiran Klaus and Schot, Johan, ‘Twisted Paths to European Integration: Comparing Agriculture and Transport in a Transnational Perspective’, Contemporary European History, 20, 4 (2011), 383403; Kaiser and Schot, Writing the Rules for Europe, chapters 4–5.

23 Patel, Kiran Klaus, ‘Provincialising European Union: Co-operation and Integration in Europe in a Historical Perspective’, Contemporary European History, 22, 4 (2013), 649–73; on this issue, see also Patel, Kiran Klaus and Kaiser, Wolfram, eds., ‘Multiple Connections in European Cooperation: International Organizations, Policy Ideas, Practices and Transfers 1967–1992’, Special Issue of the European Review of History 24, 3 (2017).

24 Toniolo, Gianni, Central Bank Cooperation at the Bank of International Settlements, 1930–1973 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Yago, Kazuhiko, The Financial History of the Bank for International Settlements (London: Routledge, 2012).

25 Weenink, Wim H., Bankier van de wereld, bouwer van Europa: Johan Willem Beyen 1897–1976 (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2005).

26 See, for example, Fransen, Frederic J., The Supranational Politics of Jean Monnet: Ideas and Origins of the European Community (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001); Duchêne, François, Jean Monnet: The First Statesman of Interdependence (New York: Norton, 1994); see also Schwabe, Klaus, Jean Monnet. Frankreich, die Deutschen und die Einigung Europas (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2016).

27 See, as one of the most recent examples, Loth, Wilfried, Building Europe: A History of European Unification (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015).

28 Clavin, Patricia, Securing the World Economy: The Reinvention of the League of Nations, 1920–1946 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

29 Kaiser, Wolfram, Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

30 Mazower, Mark, ‘Reconstruction: The Historiographical Issues’, Past & Present, 210, 6 (2011), 25.

31 See Clavin, Patricia, The Failure of Economic Diplomacy: Britain, Germany, France and the United States, 1931–36 (Houndmills: Macmillan, 1996), 3; Eichengreen, Barry, Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919–1939 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 395–9.

32 On policy cycles, see, for example, Versluis, Esther, van Keulen, Mendeltje and Stephenson, Paul, Analyzing the European Union Policy Process (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

33 See, for instance, Risse(-Kappen), Thomas, ed., Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-state Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

34 See, for instance, Iriye, Akira and Saunier, Pierre-Yves, eds., The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Clavin, Patricia, ‘Time, Manner, Space: Writing Modern European History in Global, Transnational and International Contexts’, European History Quarterly, 40, 4 (2010), 624–40; Patel, Kiran Klaus, ‘Überlegungen zu einer transnationalen Geschichte’, Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, 52, 7 (2004), 626–45.

35 Gosewinkel, Dieter, ed., Anti-Liberal Europe: A Neglected Story of Europeanization (New York: Berghahn Books, 2015); Hirschhausen and Patel, ‘Europeanization and History’.

36 See particularly the introduction to Sandkühler, Thomas, ed., Europäische Integration: Deutsche Hegemonialpolitik gegenüber Westeuropa, 1920–1960 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2002); and, for instance, Laughland, John, The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea (London: Little Brown, 1997).

37 See, for example, Conway, Martin and Gotovitch, José, eds., Europe in Exile: European Exile Communities in Britain 1940–45 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2001).

38 Coudenhove-Kalergi, Richard Nicolaus, Pan-Europa (Vienna: Pan-Europa-Verlag, 1923).

39 See, for example, Hansen, Peo and Jonsson, Stefan, Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism (London: Bloomsbury, 2014); Bitsch, Marie-Thérèse and Bossuat, Gérard, eds., L'Europe unie et l'Afrique: De l'idée d'Eurafrique à la Convention de Lomé I (Brussels: Bruylant, 2005); Moser, Thomas, Europäische Integration, Dekolonisation, Eurafrika. Eine historische Analyse über die Entstehungsbedingungen der eurafrikanischen Gemeinschaft von der Weltwirtschaftskrise bis zum Jaunde-Vertrag, 1929–1963 (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2000).

40 Börzel, Tanja and Risse, Thomas, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

41 ‘Régionalisme européen et gouvernance mondiale au XXe siècle. Premières approches’, Cahiers Irice, 9, 1 (2012), available at (last visited 22 May 2016).

42 See, for example, Parmar, Inderjeet, Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012); Weindling, Paul, ‘Philanthropy and World Health: The Rockefeller Foundation and the League of Nations Health Organisation’, Minerva, 35, 3 (1997), 269–81; Tournès, Ludovic, ‘La fondation Rockefeller et la naissance de l'universalisme philanthropique américain’, Critique Internationale, 35 (2007), 173–97 and, more generally, Patel, Kiran Klaus, The New Deal: A Global History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), e.g. 14–5, 135–7, 287–92.

43 Clavin, Securing the World Economy, 267–340.

44 Duchêne, Jean Monnet, 64–97.

45 Droysen, Johann Gustav, Historik, vol. 1 (Stuttgart: frommann-holzboog, 1977); vol. 2 (Stuttgart: frommann-holzboog, 1977), 376–88.

46 Gadamer, Hans-Georg, ‘Die Kontinuität der Geschichte und der Augenblick der Existenz’, in Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Gesammelte Werke, vol. 2 (Tübingen: Mohr, 1986), 133–45; Baumgartner, Hans Michael, Kontinuität und Geschichte: Zur Kritik und Metakritik der historischen Vernunft (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1972); Assmann, Aleida, Zeit und Tradition: Kulturelle Strategien der Dauer (Cologne: Böhlau, 1999); Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Routledge, 2002 [French 1966]); Foucault, Michel, Archaeology of Knowledge (New York: Pantheon, 1972 [French 1969]).

47 Koselleck, Reinhart, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004); Koselleck, Reinhart, Zeitschichten. Studien zur Historik (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000), 298316.

48 Arthur Salter, J., Allied Shipping Control: An Experiment in International Administration (London: Clarendon Press, 1921), xiii; see also, for example, Fransen, The Supranational Politics of Jean Monnet, 23–31.

49 See, for example, Knipping, Franz and Schönwald, Matthias, eds., Aufbruch zum Europa der zweiten Generation: Die europäische Einigung 1969–1984 (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2004).

50 Clavin, ‘Time, Manner, Place’; Raphael, Lutz, ed., Theorien und Experimente der Moderne: Europas Gesellschaften im 20. Jahrhundert (Cologne: Böhlau, 2012); Herbert, Ulrich, ‘Europe in High Modernity: Reflections on a Theory of the 20th Century’, Journal of Modern European History, 5, 1 (2007), 521. In general, see also Scott, James C., Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998); Wagner, Peter, A Sociology of Modernity: Liberty and Discipline (London: Routledge, 1994).

51 Gerbet for instance made a clear distinction between cooperation and integration in La France et l'intégration européenne, essai d'historiographie (Berne: Peter Lang, 1995). Historians founded the Journal of European Integration History in 1995. At this time Gérard Bossuat advocated speaking of European ‘constructions’ in the plural. See Bossuat, Gérard, Histoire des constructions européennes au XXe siècle. Bibliographie thématique commentée des travaux français (Berne: Peter Lang, 1994), 91 and 94. See also Le Boulay, Morgane, Au croisement des mondes scientifique et politique: l'écriture et l'enseignement de l'histoire de l'Europe en France et en Allemagne (1976–2007), PhD thesis, Université Paris Dauphine, 2014.

52 ‘Hoffman's Address to Council of E.R.P. Nations’, New York Times, 1 Nov. 1949; more generally, see Herbst, Ludolf, ‘Die zeitgenössische Integrationstheorie und die Anfänge der europäischen Einigung 1947–1950’, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 34, 2 (1986), 167205.

53 Patel, Kiran Klaus, ‘Europäische Integration’, in Dülffer, Jost and Loth, Wilfried, eds., Dimensionen internationaler Geschichte (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2012), 353–72.

54 Duchêne, Jean Monnet.

We would like to thank the FU Berlin “The Transformative Power of Europe” Research College for support for our research project on continuity and change in European cooperation during the twentieth century, which has resulted in this special issue. Our special thanks go to the Research College's directors Tanja Börzel and Thomas Risse for their valuable insights and friendship over the years. Kiran Klaus Patel would also like to thank the Gerda Henkel Foundation for its support as Gerda Henkel Visiting Professor at the German Historical Institute London and the London School of Economics in 2014/15.

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