Who is Jean Monnet?

Jean Monnet was a French economist and public official who lived from 1888 to 1979. He was one of the most popular people in the French business world. From the beginning of the First World War, he made efforts to create a united Europe. Recognizing his efforts on French and British cooperation, he was appointed as the Secretary General of League of Nations. With similar efforts, he tried to establish unity and peace in the world. 

Monnet began his new mission with great enthusiasm by feeling that the new international organization would be able to impose itself “by its moral force, by appealing to public opinion and thanks to customs which would ultimately prevail.” But he was soon forced to recognize that the League of Nations was simply unable to achieve the goals of peace and harmony which it had set itself. Decisions could only be taken unanimously. He resigned in 1923 with disappointment. 

During the Second World War period, Monnet continued to work on cooperation between France and Britain. In 1940, while the French army was being overwhelmed by German troops, Monnet envisaged a federal union between France and Great Britain: the “joint communiqué” –which reads as: “The two governments shall declare that in the future France and Great Britain will no longer be two nations but a single Anglo-French Union. The constitution of the Union will entail common organizations for defense, foreign policy and economic affairs. The two Parliaments will be officially united.” His proposal was welcome by Churchill and De Gaulle. The well-known economist Keynes said at the end of conflict that Monnet had probably shortened the Second World War by one year through his enormous efforts. 

In one of the meetings in 1943, Monnet said that “there will be no peace in Europe, unless the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty. The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation….”. Unfortunately his desperate attempts failed to prevent the defeat of France because the French political class had already settled for the defeat. Immediately after the war, Monnet proposed a “global plan for modernization and economic development” to the French government. He was appointed as the Planning Commissioner to carry out the essential work for reconstruction of the French economy. In 1947, Monnet authored the Monnet Plan for French economic revival, which led to French participation in the Marshall Plan. In 1949 Monnet realized that the control of the Ruhr, the important coal and steel region, was causing great friction between Germany and France presaging a possible return to hostilities as had happened after the First World War. After the proposal raised by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, Monnet drafted the Schuman Plan. Robert Schuman accepted the plan and, in agreement with Adenauer, rendered it public on 9 May 1950. One year later, with the Treaty of Paris, six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg) founded the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) which is the early precursor of today’s European Union. Monnet, first president (1952-1955) of the ECSC, conceived it as the initial step towards European economic and political integration and, ultimately a EUROPEAN UNION. The creation of the ECSC brought about the results envisaged by Monnet. All aspects of the European problem were modified with Franco-German conciliation. There was a shift away from confrontation towards the political cooperation, and it even facilitated the fostering of the seeds of democratic power which was contained in the ECSC project. 

In 1955, after the serious crisis provoked by France’s refusal to ratify the European Defence Community (EDC), Monnet resigned from his post as President of the High Authority of the ESCS. However, he continued to work and founded the Action Committee to struggle for political and economic integration to realise the United States of Europe through outside of formal institutional structures and became, in a sense, Europe’s first lobbyist. He devoted the rest of his life to the unity of European. 

Monnet created the Community, and the Community evolved the European and world politics. This means that in the last half the 20th century, Europe and the world have followed the idea of unity within Europe which was seeded by one man alone, Jean Monnet. 

With a treaty signed between Turkey and the European Commission in 1989, a scholarship programme was devised in order to increase the number of experts in Turkey who are well equipped on EU acquis related subjects. The programme which was named after the pioneer of the European Union has become one of the most renowned and long running scholarships in Turkey.

“Biz devletler koalisyonu kurmuyoruz, insanları birleştiriyoruz” Jean Monnet

"Durmak yok… Avrupa halkları için “birlik dışında bir gelecek yok çünkü…” Jean Monnet