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Honoring a European pillar at a historic moment for France

Publié le January 5, 2022
On the occasion of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the French Embassy in the U.S. looks back on the life of Jean Monnet.

Little known to the general public in his own country, Jean Monnet was one of the men of the 20th century whose actions had the greatest impact on the fate of the world. At each key moment in history, the First and Second World Wars, the American commitment against Nazism, the liberation and reconstruction of France, the Cold War, the construction of Europe, Jean Monnet was present. He was committed to his sole objective: to organize peace and unity.

Jean Monnet engages the peoples of the old continent towards union and makes them take a step towards the United States of Europe. The first proposal was the creation of a coal-steel pool that would place French and German production under a high common authority open to the other countries of Europe.

Meet A Father Of Europe – A Frenchman In The United States

When World War II began, Jean Monnet already held titles of diplomat, peacemaker and economist. He had experience on the European and international levels and had dabbled in the New York banking scene. He was an expert with a sharp determination and a passion for peace, and when conflict again scorched the continent and the world, he knew what had to be done.

At the dawn of the Great War, Monnet branded himself as an instrumental asset for the Allies who used his mettle to open negotiations and promote cooperation. His strong spirit earned him a ticket to Washington, D.C. to undertake an essential task: win the support of American leaders and persuade them to provide supplies to their European friends.

In the states, Monnet went above and beyond as an intermediary and advisor. He oversaw the purchase of war supplies and was even a trusted voice in the ear of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Monnet was a welcome ally who, some say, shortened the war by at least a year. But even in this great effort, he still found time for quiet, personal ponderings, and small moments proved to be monumental.

One of Monnet’s favorite places to take a solitary stroll was Rock Creek Park, an “Oasis in the City,” that sits just a stone’s throw away from our Embassy today. It was there, away from the noise of war, that he had the space to reflect on the synergy of the American states and their dynamic interconnectivity. He deeply admired the system and dreamed of a day that Europe could find peace through a similar alliance through economic dependence.

He held this vision close, and when his time in the US came to a close, he carried it across the ocean where it would take root and grow into the ancestor of the European Union. Jean Monnet was a transatlantic agent who saw past a destitute situation towards an integrated, independent, peaceful Europe. To him, we are grateful in this European Moment.

More information

More information about the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union is available at PRESIDENCE-FRANCAISE.CONSILIUM.EUROPA.EU.