Victoria Martín de la Torre on the #FoundingFathers of the EU (Adenauer, De Gasperi, Monnet, Schuman, Spaak)

Despite their very different personalities, what they had in common was the ability to combine the ideal they aspired to for our societies with a very pragmatic and realistic vision of the shortcomings of all human beings. They also had the flexibility to keep adapting their immediate decisions to the long-term vision. They shared the experience of having lived through two world wars, and a real desire to leave a legacy for future generations. And they did not want this legacy to depend on the will of those who would come after them: because good will is not enough. While building takes enormous effort and lots of patience, destruction is often sudden and dramatic. This is why they were so keen on having strong institutions. 

… I would say… that the three Christian Democrats (Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcide De Gasperi) never thought about mentioning religion in any official document, even if they spoke publicly about the Christian values inspiring their political action. They did not find it necessary. And yet, both Jean Monnet and Paul-Henri Spaak (who were agnostic and atheist respectively) acknowledged that throughout history, Christianity has played a positive role in the cohesion of the peoples of Europe. 

The main achievement of these five “Fathers” and all the other pioneers was to identify that peace and the common project was above any personal or ideological differences between them. – Victoria Martín de la Torre, Europe, a Leap into the Unknown – A Journey Back in Time to Meet the Founders of the European Union (2014)

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Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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