Shouldn’t the world and all Europeans be grateful to the man who brought to our attention the essentials for the world to have peace? Shouldn’t all European schoolchildren know his name? Some people might say: ‘We know it was Jean Monnet who brought Europe a Community and peace. That is why we call it the Monnet Method.‘
But what if Monnet himself said that he was not responsible for all this? What should Europeans do if it were found out that Monnet said that the secret of Europe did not come from his own brain but from a stranger who told him the secret? Wouldn’t everybody want to know who the stranger was and from where he got the secret? The secret is vitally needed today. War still poses a major danger to the planet.
The truth is Monnet did in fact say that he, Monnet, learned the secret from a stranger. What should we all do about it?
All teachers, all writers of textbooks and history books should take note of this and revise their incorrect versions of history, politics and economics. What is more important: all politicians and all world leaders should immediately note that for several decades they have been deceived and that they had better revise their background papers. They should sharpen up their act before we are too far advanced in the next disasters.
The answer to world peace and European democracy does not lie in the ‘Monnet Method‘. That is just PR spin. To accept it means that they demonstrate that they are gullible victims of the clever writers of his Mémoires. But a fraud will not bring world peace or democracy. World leaders will have to change their ideas to those more fitting for a globalized world. They need to follow the authentic method and path that brought Europe its peace. That requires an honest search for truth and a dose of humility.
According to his Mémoires, Monnet had been involved in the peace process for Europe that created today’s EU, only from April 1950. Returning from the French Alpine resort of Roselend (which he wrongly calls Roseland and says it is in Switzerland!), Monnet says he was looking for a concept to avoid a seemingly inevitable war. He does not say yet that he had created the great Monnet Method to do the job. He was worried. That’s all. There are no papers in the Monnet archives that indicate Monnet or any of the Planning Agency staff were working on peacemaking. No paper before April 1950 even mentions the word supranational.
Monnet then makes a real revelation! He learned about supranationality as a concept from someone who he said was a complete stranger. This person just turned up at his office. Believe it or not! Extraordinary. Monnet reveals in the Mémoires that this person was at the heart of the key concepts both in terms of the definitions and the language. And, in fact, much more. Thus Monnet admitted in the Mémoires that he himself was not at the heart of the concept.
He says that this mysterious stranger was at the origin of the key concept of the supranational method — creating a High Authority, that is a European Commission. The Gaullists hated such words like supranational (Europe’s founding principle) and High Authority (de Gaulle wanted to be the High Authority, thus denying the true source of all authority). So weak-minded politicians changed them hoping to appease the Gaullist, nationalist and Communist reaction. As if changing words would make the lust for power evaporate! Some hope! That is not how you deal with self-appointed autocrats, whether so-called representatives of the people / proletariat or other rabble-rousers who were completely unelected and rejected (as de Gaulle then was).
Monnet said this figure who came unannounced to his office was at the heart of the word and also the reality, (à l’origine de la Haute Autorité, du mot comme de la chose. Mémoires, p 352). That is the stranger provided the technical terminology and vocabulary and also oversaw their creation and turning the words and legal expressions into a practical application.
Wouldn’t you think that such a brilliant, wonderful person would be acclaimed across the entire 500 million citizens who owe their personal freedoms to the Community method? How many can even identify his name today? Why do so many, apparently intelligent people, praise Jean Monnet for the so-called ‘Monnet Method’ — which Monnet says in reality he owes to someone else?
Why isn’t it called the Method of the perfect-stranger-who-came-into-Monnet’s-office?
Who was this person who for Monnet set down the key part of the Community system? He is a person that the “official history” — the Monnet method version — has basically written out of history. His name is not taught in text books. The text books say that Monnet was the originator of “the method”. (Unfortunately they can’t really define what the method is. How then could it stop two millennia of wars! How will it stop the next, major wars we are faced with?)
Yet Monnet says that Professor Paul Reuter was at the heart of the idea! The name of Paul Reuter should be as well known as Jean Monnet. Who was Professor Paul Reuter? He was none other than a trusted colleague of Schuman! If Monnet mentions, then rapidly passes over, Reuter’s name and presence, should we not suspect that Monnet is trying to upstage and overshadow him? The real origin is being purposefully obscured and ignored. This distortion is equivalent to a news agency cropping photographs to leave out the essential fact, perhaps a knife in a would-be assassin’s hand. An assailant is made out to be a victim, a pacifist. In this case we are dealing with the opposite. Someone who helped give us the longest period of peace in history. He is taken out of the picture.
Is Monnet’s book guilty of ignorance or willful refusal to record the facts? Many other facts are expunged. The extraordinary achievements in constructing a European policy in the immediate postwar years of Robert Schuman as Prime Minister and then as Foreign Minister — work that was acknowledged widely around the world — is left out completely. What he had achieved — such as the Council of Europe — is denigrated as useless. Thus the Mémoires consistently sidelined the work and action of Robert Schuman.
It is practically impossible to bury the truth forever, so why did the book attempt to do so? Facts, even minor ones, are so inconvenient to fibs.
Monnet wrote: ‘An accident brought into my office… a young law professor that I did not know.‘ The professor came from Lorraine, Schuman’s home region. Schuman was the most prominent personality from Lorraine, the province in the north-east of France. He had been twice Prime Minister. In 1950 he was Foreign Minister, and widely trusted around the world as an honest politician and moreover, a Statesman of great capacity and vision. So we have a story about the beginning of Europe with at least two Lorrainers at the centre of the construction.
For all Lorrainers Schuman was considered the primary legislator in the French Assembly after the First World War. Schuman had brought in the laws to unite the lost provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to metropolitan France but without losing their local traditions, customs and advantages in law. The body of law was called the Lex Schuman.
Schuman continued as a great legal innovator after WW2. He was the major originator of the NATO Treaty, signed in April 1949. It was Schuman’s government that suggested and promoted the Council of Europe. The Lorrainer in the Foreign Ministry had a burning desire to solve once and for all the problem of Germany. And now, behold a stranger arrives unannounced from the same formerly German-occupied province.
Would it not be obvious that something significant was afoot? Schuman was known by all by his Lorraine accent. Then another Lorrainer arrives chez Monnet. He talks about how to deal with Germany. Is that a coincidence?
He was, like Schuman, a lawyer, but not yet so eminent. Furthermore he was also an alumnus of the same high school of Metz. In Schuman’s time it had been under German occupation; in Reuter’s youth it was again part of France. There was also a Reuter in the family tree of Robert Schuman. They may well have been related. Both of them, as Reuter noted later, have connections with Luxembourg.
Was this Lorraine university teacher known or unknown to Robert Schuman, then Foreign Minister? Firstly let us say how well-known he was to Schuman before he took this post. When Schuman was made Prime Minister with a mandate to ‘Save the Republic‘, the democratic future of France hung dangerously in the balance. Insurrectional strikes paralyzed the country. Reuter was one of the key men whom Schuman relied on to rescue France from a Communist take-over. France could have gone the way of Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia and the other capitals were Communists seized the Parliament. Then they seized total control of the State. Reuter was then head of staff to Schuman’s trusted Minister of Defence, Pierre-Henri Teitgen. Together Teitgen and Reuter managed to free Parliament where the Communists had held the Chamber hostage. Some persuader!
Reuter was thus one of the great (unsung) heroes of French democracy after the war. Non-French people might ask: Why is so little said of this? Maybe the answer is that the Gaullists were also in cahoots with the Communists at the time. For decades later Gaullists had practically a monopoly of the media and the educational system. They rewrote history.
So we now have a Lorraine professor, former staff member of Schuman’s close friend, apparently coming ‘by accident‘ to Jean Monnet’s office. Isn’t the ego-centric plot of the Mémoires now getting a little thin?
But was Reuter sent by Schuman as Foreign Minister? Did the Minister know he was going to Jean Monnet’s office? Maybe it was just a professorial visit from someone who was just looking up dusty archives. Was Professor Paul Reuter the prototype ‘Jean Monnet professor’? Was he in other words totally unconcerned about the practical implications of a supranational democracy in Europe?? Was he the sort of person who would not criticise the Lisbon Treaty because the EU funded his chair?
Monnet says the opposite. He was the one who motivated and activated Monnet so forcefully that Monnet convinced himself maybe that he was the originator and the inspirer of the ‘Monnet Method‘!
What was a professor doing in Monnet’s office? Here it is easy to be trapped by the Monnet spin. Calling him professor was not just a tiny bit disingenuous. It is a bit like calling Albert Einstein a violin player. Reuter did give a course at a university in the south of France. He also had work in Paris. The work in Paris was far more important than a course at Aix-en-Provence. Is that clear in the Mémoires? Hardly.
Reuter worked in the French Foreign Ministry for the Robert Schuman as one of the two top lawyers. He had to be meticulous. His advice was sought on every international agreement. He scrutinized all Allied treaties and matters with Germany and with the Soviet Union. Germany was Schuman’s great concern and focus of attention at this time.
He also helped alert Schuman of the internal political plots against the Minister. There were many. As a trusted friend and lawyer he could warn him in advance of the conspiracies and sabotage (the word is not too strong) led by senior nationalistic officials of the ministry.
Did Monnet mention this? What do you think? It must have been obvious to anyone of intelligence as the main news of the day was about the political battles over Germany. The names of the politicians and the high Foreign Ministry officials were blazoned in the newspapers as attempting to destroy the policy of European reconciliation that Schuman was trying to create. Not many people in France at the time were in favour of reconciliation. But they did not want another war.
So the Monnet Mémoires tell us that the main ideas about the High Authority, the central feature of the new method of supranational democracy came to Monnet via a close friend of Robert Schuman, then Foreign Minister. Is it really a logical deduction to say that Monnet invented the European Community method? Is it honest?
If you have a problem to solve with a neighbour and he sends a lawyer, you should expect he will require answers to all the most pertinent questions. Monnet was not a lawyer, nor was anyone else at the Planning Agency. In itself the arrival of a lawyer should have switched on lights.
If the neighbour is a friend you should expect that he has already thought quite a bit about the problem. If the neighbour is a lawyer, one of the most eminent in France, and he sends a lawyer to get your support for something, then one thing is fairly obvious. The neighbour has already deeply convinced of what he has to do and the lawyer he is sending is to get you to agree to a minor but important detail.
It would be extremely rash of you to assume that if you agreed on that minor detail and collaborated with the lawyer then it was you who invented the whole scheme of your neighbour. Reuter was a great helper in an even greater work of unifying Europe.
As we saw in the last commentary Reuter had a prominent part in the Schuman Plan conference. Europe’s first intergovernmental conference forged its supranational democracy. This information came from documents held tightly until recently by the Jean Monnet Foundation. Yet the Mémoires say that Monnet ‘hoped Reuter would come to help draft with us the treaty but matters turned out differently. I do not know why.‘ (p352).
Their own archives tell the Monnet team otherwise. The Schuman archives too. It contains the very full reports of Reuter on the progress of conference for Schuman’s eyes. Furthermore Reuter had an official part of the conference, called by the French government, led by the Foreign Ministry, with representatives of other ministries. He was the deputy to the chief Jurisconsult of the Foreign Ministry, André Gros. These were the top lawyers who were authorized to plead on behalf of the French Republic at international courts of justice. The conference was not organised by Jean Monnet as his private enterprise, as the Mémoires would give readers to believe.
Why does Monnet insist on calling this high official at the Foreign Ministry, a close colleague of Schuman, a professor at the university of Aix? He says that without him, ‘I (Monnet) would not have managed to put together immediately the form it assumed to make it the authentic document that originated the Community,‘ (349). Oh really? This is like saying that a violinist helped a schoolboy solve a problem of physics that the violinist had asked him about in the first place. The violinist departs and the boy says I solved it all by myself.
Professor Paul Reuter, a Jurist of the Ministry, was an excellent lawyer who accomplished this task. It would be refreshing today to see the so-called Jean Monnet professors, rolling up their sleeves, rising collectively from their chairs to the task of working for the implementation of supranational democracy in Europe. Paul Reuter would be a good example to follow of discretion, efficacy and humility.