45 degrees. Bruno Cardoso Reis: the diplomatic revolution that sowed the seeds of the EU | Public Podcasts

This week, in podcast 45 Degrees, the guest is Bruno Cardoso Reis, Master in Contemporary History from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon, in History Studies from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in the area of ​​International Relations, in War Studies, from King’s College London. He is currently a professor at ISCTE-IUL, where he coordinates the PhD in History and Defense, in partnership with the Military Academy. Between 2019-2022, he was an advisor to the Minister of National Defense. He has researched and lectured on Global History, European Studies, International Relations, Security Studies, among others.

On May 5, 1950, Robert Schuman, then Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, made one of the most remarkable communications of the European 20th century, when he announced the French plan for European nations to start managing their resources in a shared way. coal and steel. The plan was the brainchild of the French government’s economic policy team, led by Jean Monnet, who became one of the key figures in the project.

The “Schuman Plan”, as it became known, would later lead, on March 19, 1951, to the signing of the Treaty of Paris and, with it, the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), composed of six countries. from Western Europe: France, West Germany (FRG), Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg (the Benelux members) and also Italy. But the main consequence of the French government’s initiative was not economic, but political: creating the Franco-German alliance that has since been the basis of the success of the European project.

Schuman’s proposal and the hand extended to Germany took most observers by surprise, because they marked a 180º turn in relation to the foreign policy that France had followed until then. During the post-war years, the great French objective had been to solve, once and for all, the eternal “German question” – that is, to prevent the neighboring country from being able to rise again and become aggressive once more. And for that, in the French view, it was necessary to restrict the reconstruction of Germany as much as possible, at all levels – political, economic and, above all, military. That is, the French political power believed that the strength of France depended directly on the weakness of Germany.

But suddenly, everything changed. Schuman announces the plan, Germany accepts it and the US supports it enthusiastically, contributing decisively to the formation of the ECSC. The only ones to spoil the party were the British, who opted from the start to stay out of the negotiations. How was this possible?

To understand this fascinating and complex subject, we have to understand the environment in post-war Europe, get to know the foreign and domestic policy priorities of the various countries involved and also take into account the essential role of the Cold War in accelerating the entire process. In other words, it is necessary to know very well the history of Europe in this period in several levels. Bruno Cardoso Reis fulfills the specifications, bringing an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of international relations, which helps us to understand the multiple dimensions of this period in which the process that would give rise to the EU began.

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