Belgian statesman and Socialist leader. He held various cabinet posts
over 30 years (1935-1965) and served almost continually as foreign
Minister from 1938 to 1949. A moderate Socialist, Spaak was three
times premier (1938-39, 1946, 1947-49). He was again foreign Minister
from 1954 to 1957, and he resumed that post from 1961 to 1966, serving
also as vice premier (1961-65).
Spaak acquired international
stature as first president of the General Assembly of the United Nations
(1946), chairman of the Council for European Recovery (1948-49), and
secretary-general of NATO (1957-61).
In both national and international
posts Spaak strove for the political and economic unification of Western
Europe, and he was active in the creation of the organisations that
have since become the European Union.
In 1950, he was elected
president of the OEEC and the Council of Europe, and two years later,
he chaired the Assembly of ECSC. He presided over the Conference of
Messina, where the foreign Ministers of "the Six" made the
definitive step who led to the Treaty of Rome.
Juan Carlos Ocaña
Paul-Henri Spaak, The Continuing Battle: Memories of an European
A new political event of
extreme importance was in the making: General de Gaulle had torpedoed
our negotiations without having warned either his partners or the
British. He had acted with a lack of consideration unexampled in the
history of the EEC, showing utter contempt for his negotiating partners,
allies and opponents alike. He had brought to a halt negotiations
which he himself put in train in full agreement with his partners,
and had done so on the flimsiest of pretexts.
What had happened? There
is every reason to believe that it was the attitude adopted by Macmillan
at his meeting with Kennedy in Bermuda which so upset the President
of the French Republic. Macmillan's crime was to have reached agreement
with the President of the United States on Britain's nuclear, weaponry.
He had in fact arranged for the purchase of Polaris missiles from
the United States. In General de Gaulle's eyes the cooperation with
the Americans was tantamount to treason against Europe's interests
and justified his refusal to allow Britain into the Common Market.
The General's resentment was all the greater because a few days before
the Bermuda meeting he had received Macmillan at Rambouillet. The
British Prime Minister, he claimed, had told him nothing of his nuclear
plans. On the other hand, de Gaulle gave Macmillan no warning that
he was about to torpedo the negotiations in Brussels. I think the
full truth about these events still remains to be told. The French
and British versions which have been circulating in the chancelleries
differ, but what is certain is that France, without consulting her
partners, unilaterally withdrew from negotiations to which she had
earlier agreed and that she did so, moreover, after first insisting
that the Six must present a united front.
We were faced with a complete
volte-face. Stunned and angry, our first reaction was to ignore what
had been said in Paris and to continue the negotiation as if nothing
had happened. The British showed extraordinary sang-froid. Though,
deep down, they were greatly shocked, they gave no outward sign of
this and continued to present their arguments at the negotiating table
with imperturbable calm.
of the European Union: Integration Process and European Citizenship