Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet (French: [ʒɑ̃ mɔnɛ]; 9 November 1888 – 16 March 1979) was a French entrepreneur, diplomat, financier, administrator, and political visionary. An influential supporter of European unity, he is considered as one of the founding fathers of the European Union.
|President of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community|
10 August 1952 – 3 June 1955
|Preceded by||Office created|
|Succeeded by||René Mayer|
|Commissioner of the French Plan Commission|
3 January 1946 – 1952
|Preceded by||Office created|
|Succeeded by||Étienne Hirsch|
|Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations|
10 June 1919 – 31 January 1923
|Preceded by||Office created|
|Succeeded by||Joseph Avenol|
Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet
9 November 1888
Cognac, Charente, France
|Died||16 March 1979 90) (aged|
Houjarray, Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, France
|Resting place||Panthéon, Paris, France|
Silvia de Bondini
|Profession||Négociant, diplomat, public administrator|
Jean Monnet has been called "The Father of Europe" by those who see his innovative and pioneering efforts in the 1950s as the key to establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor of today's European Union. Although Monnet was never elected to public office, he worked behind the scenes of American and European governments as a well-connected "pragmatic internationalist".
Monnet was born in Cognac, a commune in the department of Charente in France, into a family of cognac merchants. According to Jacques-René Rabier, the values of laicism and republicanism, as well as a strong Catholic tradition, co-existed in Monnet's family. His mother was deeply religious and his sister Marie-Louise was a founder of the French branch of Action Catholique, to which Monnet contributed financially, she would later introduce her brother to Pope Paul VI.
At the age of sixteen, Monnet abandoned his university entrance examinations part way through and moved to the United Kingdom, where he spent several years in London learning business with Mr Chaplin, an agent of his father's company. Subsequently, he travelled widely – to Scandinavia, Russia, Egypt, Canada, and the United States – for the family business, Monnet Cognac.
World War I
Monnet firmly believed that the only path to an Allied victory lay in combining the war efforts of Britain and France, and he reflected on a concept that would coordinate war resources. In 1914, a friend of the family, Fernand Benon, arranged for young Monnet to meet French Premier René Viviani in Bordeaux to talk about this issue; Monnet managed to convince the French government to agree with him, in principle.
However, during the first two years of the war, Monnet did not have much success pressing for a better organization of the allied economic cooperation. It was not until two years later that stronger combines like the Wheat Executive (end of 1916) and the Allied Maritime Transport Council (end of 1917) were set into motion, adding to the overall war effort.
At the Paris Peace Conference, Monnet was an assistant to the French minister of commerce and industry, Étienne Clémentel, who proposed a "new economic order" based on European cooperation. The scheme was officially rejected by the Allies in April 1919.
Due to his experience organizing inter-Allied committees during the war, Monnet was asked to take on the job of Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations by French premier Georges Clemenceau and British statesman Arthur Balfour, upon the League's creation in 1919.
Monnet left the League of Nations at the end of 1922. He says "I certainly did not leave out of disenchantment with the League's weakness" and he believed "a great deal more could usefully be done." However, he felt it necessary to devote himself to managing the cognac family business, which was experiencing difficulties. In 1925, Monnet moved to America to accept a partnership in Blair & Co., a New York bank which merged with Bank of America in 1929, forming Bancamerica-Blair Corporation which was owned by Transamerica Corporation. He returned to international politics and, as an international financier, proved to be instrumental to the economic recovery of several Central and Eastern Europe nations. He helped stabilise the Polish złoty in 1927 and the Romanian leu in 1928. In November 1932, the Chinese Minister of Finance invited Jean Monnet to act as chairman of an east–west non-political committee in China for the development of the Chinese economy where he lived until 1936. During his time in China, Monnet's task of partnering Chinese capital with foreign companies led to the formal inauguration of the Chinese Development Finance Corporation (CDFC) as well as the reorganization of the Chinese railroads.
In 1935, when Monnet was still in Shanghai, he became a business partner of George Murnane (a former colleague of Monnet at Transamerica) in Monnet, Murnane & Co. Murnane was connected to the Wallenberg family in Sweden, the Bosch family in Germany, the Solvays and Boëls in Belgium, and John Foster Dulles, André Meyer, and the Rockefeller family in the United States. He was considered among the most connected persons of his time.
World War II
In September 1939, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier sent Monnet to London to coordinate the organization of Franco-British war supplies. Shortly after the invasion of France in May 1940, Monnet advocated for a Franco-British union because he believed victory was impossible if “the two countries did not act and fight as a single people and if the two nations were not completely and profoundly aware of their unity." Winston Churchill supported the union as did Charles de Gaulle and the French prime minister, Paul Reynaud, but the French cabinet was opposed and France instead pursued an armistice with Germany.
Monnet understood de Gaulle’s desire to act quickly to create a French authority in Britain following the surrender of France on 22 June 1940, but he disagreed with the General’s claim that he alone represented fighting France. He would have preferred that de Gaulle work with others who were supporters, at that time, of continuing the resistance such as General Charles Noguès in North Africa. Also, Monnet thought that an organization centered in London would appear to the French as a movement under British protection and inspired by British interests. In a letter to de Gaulle on June 23, Monnet said he had made these concerns known to British Foreign Office officials Alexander Cadogan and Robert Vansittart, as well as Churchill’s envoy Edward Spears. Still, Monnet maintained good personal relations with de Gaulle, and they worked together three years later in Algiers.
As France was no longer allied with Britain, Monnet resigned as Chairman of the Anglo-French Coordinating Committee and wound up its operations. Churchill invited Monnet to continue his work securing supplies from North America with the British Purchasing Commission. In this role he would ask for rapid and massive increases in the flow of American weapons, and he became known for arguing “Better ten thousand tanks too many than one tank too few."
Soon after his arrival in Washington, D.C., Monnet became an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Convinced that America could serve as "the great arsenal of democracy", he persuaded the President to launch a massive arms production program, both as an economic stimulus and to supply the Allies with military resources. Unlike De Gaulle, Monnet was popular with the Americans and the English. A co-worker of his claims that sometimes he would help Churchill to write a message to Roosevelt and then on the next day help Roosevelt to compose the response. According to Edward R. Kantowicz, Monnet was impressed by the American organizational energy and saw cooperation with the new superpower as Europe's only chance to reorganize and recover itself. In 1941, Roosevelt, with Churchill's agreement, launched the Victory Program, which represented the involvement of the United States in the war effort. After the war, British economist John Maynard Keynes stated that Monnet, through his coordination work, had probably shortened World War II by a year.
While in Washington, Monnet and his family lived in a comfortable house built in 1934 at 2415 Foxhall Road NW, which was later home to Adlai Stevenson III and James Baker. He worked from an office of the British Mission at the Willard Hotel.
In 1943, Monnet became a member of the National Liberation Committee, De Gaulle's French government-in-exile, stationed in Algiers, being designated Commissaire à l'Armement (Minister of Armaments). During a meeting on 5 August of that year, Monnet declared to the Committee:
"There will be no peace in Europe if the States are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty, with all that that entails in terms of prestige politics and economic protectionism. The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the prosperity that modern conditions make possible and consequently necessary. Prosperity for the States of Europe and the social developments that must go with it will only be possible if they form a federation or a "European entity" that makes them into a common economic unit.”
The Monnet Plan
Following World War II, France was in severe need of reconstruction and completely dependent on coal from Germany's main remaining coal-mining areas, the Ruhr and the Saar. (The German coal fields in Upper Silesia had been handed over to Polish administration by the Allies in 1945, see Oder-Neisse line.)
In 1945, Monnet proposed the Monnet Plan, also known as the "Theory of l'Engrenage" (not to be confused with the Schuman plan). It included taking control of the remaining German coal-producing areas and redirecting the production away from the German industry and into the French, thus permanently weakening Germany and raising the French economy considerably above its pre-war levels. The plan was adopted by Charles de Gaulle in early 1946.
Later that year, Monnet successfully negotiated the Blum–Byrnes agreement with the United States, which cleared France from a $2.8 billion debt (mostly World War I loans) and provided the country with an additional low-interest loan of $650 million. In return, France opened its cinemas to American movies.
European Coal and Steel Community
In 1947 France removed the Saar from Germany, with U.S. support, and turned it into the Saar Protectorate, which was essentially a French vassal state. The area returned to German political administration in 1957 (economic reunification would take many years longer), but France retained the right to mine from its coal mines until 1981. (See: The Europeanisation of the Saarland)
The Ruhr Agreement was imposed on the Germans as a condition for permitting them to establish the Federal Republic of Germany. The IAR controlled production levels, pricing, and the sales markets, thus ensuring that France received a considerable portion of the Ruhr coal production at low prices.
When tensions between France and Germany rose over the control of the then vital coal and steel industries, Monnet and his associates conceived the idea of a European Community. On 9 May 1950, with the agreement of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of West Germany, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman made a declaration in the name of the French government. This landmark pronouncement, prepared by Monnet for Schuman and known as the Schuman Declaration, proposed integration of the French and German coal and steel industries under joint control, a so-called High Authority, open to the other countries of Europe. Schuman declared:
Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation, imperative for the preservation of peace.
When Germany agreed to join the European Coal and Steel Community according to the Schuman Plan in 1951, the ongoing dismantling of German industry was halted and some of the restrictions on German industrial output were lifted. West Germany joined the ECSC, alongside Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, while Britain refused, on grounds of national sovereignty.
In 1952, Jean Monnet became the first president of the High Authority and with the opening of the common market for coal under the ECSC in 1953, the last civilian production limitations placed on German industry were lifted, and the role of the IAR was taken over by the ECSC.
Action Committee for the United States of Europe
In 1955, Monnet founded the Action Committee for the United States of Europe in order to revive European construction following the failure of the European Defence Community (EDC). It brought political parties and European trade unions together to become a driving force behind the initiatives which laid the foundation for the European Union as it eventually emerged: first, the European Economic Community (EEC) (1958) (known commonly as the "Common Market"), which was established by the Treaty of Rome of 1957; later the European Communities (1967) with its corresponding bodies, the European Commission and the European Council of Ministers, British membership of the Communities (1973), the European Council (1974), the European Monetary System (1979), and a directly elected European Parliament (1979). This process reflected Monnet's belief in a gradualist approach for constructing European unity.
Monnet resigned and ended the Committee's activity on 9 May 1975, the 25th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.
Writing about his life and the principles which drove his action was a longstanding project which Monnet delayed for years as he gave higher priority to his other projects. In the early 1970s, François Fontaine was instrumental in bringing the endeavor to fruition and drafted much of the text, even as Monnet retained ultimate control. The Memoirs were published by Fayard in 1976, and an English translation by Richard Mayne by Doubleday in 1978.
In August 1929, during a dinner party in Paris, the 41-year-old Monnet met 22-year-old Italian painter Silvia Giannini (17 August 1907 – 22 August 1982) who had recently married Francisco Giannini, an employee of Monnet when he was a representative in Italy. In April 1931, Silvia gave birth to a daughter, Anna, whose legal father was Giannini.
Since divorce wasn't allowed in most European countries, Silvia and Jean Monnet met in Moscow, as it was possible there to obtain citizenship and residence qualifications rapidly, and to divorce and remarry at once. In 1934, he returned from China via the Trans-Siberian railway, she from Switzerland. He arranged for Silvia to obtain Soviet citizenship; she immediately divorced her husband and married Jean Monnet. The idea for the Moscow marriage came from Dr. Ludwik Rajchman, whom Monnet had met during his time at the League of Nations (Rajchman was connected to the Soviet Ambassador to China, Dmitrij Bogomołow). It seems that the American and French ambassadors in Moscow, William Bullitt and Charles Alphand, also played a role. The custody of Anna was a problem; in 1935 Silvia took refuge with Anna in the Soviet consulate in Shanghai, where they were living at the time because Francisco Giannini was trying to obtain custody of the child. The legal battle was decided in favour of Silvia in 1937 in New York, but the ruling wasn't recognized by some other countries.
In 1941 Monnet and Silvia had another daughter, Marianne. The Monnet family returned to France in 1945 and, after the death of Francisco Giannini in 1974, the couple married canonically in the cathedral of Lourdes. Silvia Monnet was very important to her husband throughout their forty-five years of marriage, according to Louis Joxe, Monnet "would spend hours writing to his wife, whose opinion mattered more to him than that of anyone else".
Death and legacy
On 16 March 1979, Jean Monnet died at the age of 90 in his home in Houjarray, Bazoches-sur-Guyonne. His funeral took place in the little church of Montfort-l'Amaury on 20 March 1979; French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Schmidt were both present.
He received numerous other prizes and honorary degrees, including Doctor Honoris Causa from the universities of Cambridge (8 June 1961), Dartmouth (11 June 1961), Yale (12 June 1961), and Oxford (26 June 1963).
On 6 December 1963, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with Special Distinction, by United States President Lyndon Johnson. The decision had been made by President Kennedy before his assassination.
In 1972, Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary Companion of Honour.
He was the first to be bestowed Honorary Citizen of Europe by the European Council of the European Union, for extraordinary work to promote European cooperation on 2 April 1976, he remained the only one for a generation until Helmut Kohl received the same distinction in 1998. Following this, he became the first person then living to be pictured on a Federal Republic of Germany stamp who was not a German head of state.
Shortly after his death, he was named patron of the 1980–1981 academic year at the College of Europe.
Jean Monnet House at Houjarray
The Jean Monnet House is located in Houjarray, a hamlet of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, Yvelines, 80 kilometres (50 miles) outside Paris. This old farm became Jean Monnet's property in 1945, upon his return to France. It was there that Jean Monnet and his advisors, in the last days of April 1950, drew up the historic declaration that Robert Schuman used to address Europe on 9 May 1950, proposing the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community.
In the house, Robert Schuman, Walter Hallstein, Paul-Henri Spaak, Konrad Adenauer, René Pleven, Helmut Schmidt, and many others exchanged their views with Jean Monnet on Europe's common future. On Sundays, he had friends passing by come to his house; among them were Dwight Eisenhower, George Ball, and Edward Heath.
Monnet liked fireside conversations with journalists such as Walter Lippman, Hubert Beuve-Méry, or his neighbour Pierre Viansson-Ponté. This house was also where Jean Monnet died on 16 March 1979.
The European Parliament acquired the house in 1982 and entrusted its restoration, management, and organization to the Jean Monnet Association. A multimedia conference room was added in 2000. The Jean Monnet Association organizes about 250 conferences on European history and current events each year.
Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe
The Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe in Lausanne supports initiatives dedicated to the construction of European unity. Its origins date from a meeting between Jean Monnet and Henri Rieben in 1955. It is located on the campus of the University of Lausanne and houses the personal archives of Jean Monnet as well as those of Robert Schuman, Robert Marjolin, François Fontaine, Jacques Van Helmont, Paolo Emilio Taviani, Robert Triffin, and the Earl of Perth.
Other places and institutions named after Jean Monnet
Numerous streets, squares, and avenues have been named after Jean Monnet in France and elsewhere in Europe, including the Place Jean-Monnet in the 16th arrondissement of Paris and the Jean-Monnet-Strasse in the Moabit neighborhood of Berlin.
Several other European universities honour Monnet and his accomplishments: the University of Limerick, Ireland, has a lecture theatre named after him, and British educational institutions which honour Monnet include the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at King's College London, the East Midlands Euro-Centre at Loughborough University, the European Research Institute at the University of Bath, the Jean Monnet Centre at the University of Birmingham, the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence at Cambridge, the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence at the University of Essex, the Centre for European Union Studies at the University of Hull, the Kent Centre for Europe at the University of Kent, the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, a partnership between the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, the Jean Monnet Centre at Newcastle University, the Jean Monnet Centre for European Studies at the University of Wales and the Jean Monnet High School in Bucharest, Romania.
Named after Monnet, the Jean Monnet building was the principal location of the European Commission's activities in Luxembourg between 1975 and 2016. Its replacement, the Jean Monnet 2 building, will become operational from February 2023.
Jean Monnet Prizes
Several prizes also seek to honour Jean Monnet's life and achievements. The Jean Monnet Prize for European Literature, set up in 1995 by the department of Charente, rewards European authors for books written in, or translated to, French. The Jean Monnet Prize for European Integration, given by EuropeanConstitution.eu, a French association, rewards projects contributing to the promotion of European integration. Several universities and research centres also award prizes named after Jean Monnet.
Jean Monnet Programme and Chairs
The European Union maintains Monnet's memory with the Jean Monnet Activities, under the Erasmus+ programme of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). These activities promote knowledge on European integration and European studies on a worldwide scale, especially at the university level, through the Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence, as well as chairs, policy debates, and support to associations.
Jean Monnet Actions aim to build bridges between academics, researchers and EU policymakers. There is an emphasis on the study of and research on EU integration and in understanding Europe's place in a globalised world. Jean Monnet Actions are organised and applied for via higher education institutions.
Jean Monnet Chairs are teaching posts with a specialisation in European Union studies for university professors or senior lecturers. Jean Monnet Chairs can:
- enhance the teaching of EU studies at your institution through the curriculum
- conduct, monitor and supervise research on EU matters at all education levels
- be a mentor and advisor to the next generation of teachers and researchers
- provide expert guidance to future professionals about European matters
Jean Monnet Chairs are encouraged to:
- publish books within their university press during the grant period. The grant will cover part of the publication and, if need be, part of the translation costs
- participate in dissemination and information events in your country and around Europe
- organise events (lectures, seminars, workshops, etc.) with policymakers, civil society and schools
- network with other academics and institutions supported by Jean Monnet
- apply open educational resources, and publish the summaries, content, schedule and expected outcomes of your activities
Jean Monnet chairs have been established, for example, at the following universities (alphabetically):
- Universität Augsburg (Christoph Vedder)
- Freie Universität Berlin (Tanja A. Börzel)
- Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Sebastian Bersick)
- Universität Bremen (Ulrike Liebert)
- Technische Universität Chemnitz (Matthias Niedobitek)
- Universität Duisburg-Essen (Michael Kaeding und Ansgar Belke)
- Viadrina European University (Matthias Pechstein)
- Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen (Mahulena Hofmann)
- Universität Hamburg (Gabriele Clemens)
- Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Peter-Christian Müller-Graf)
- Universität Hildesheim (Michael Gehler)
- Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (Matthias Ruffert)
- Hochschule für Öffentliche Verwaltung Kehl (Annegret Eppler)
- Universität Konstanz (Daniel Thym)
- Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (Jürgen Mittag)
- Universität zu Köln (Wolfgang Wessels)
- Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg (Wolfgang Renzsch)
- Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (Arne Niemann)
- Faculty of Organisation Studies in Novo mesto (Uroš Pinterič)
- University of Oldenburg (Martin Heidenreich)
- Universität Osnabrück (Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in European Studies)
- Universität Paderborn (Dieter Krimphove)
- Universität Passau (Daniel Göler)
- Universität Regensburg (Rainer Arnold)
- Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Rudolf Hrbek und Gabriele Abels)
- Universität des Saarlandes (Thomas Giegerich)
- Universiteit Utrecht (Sybe A. de Vries)
- Universität Wuppertal (Hans J. Lietzmann)
- Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet)
In September 2016, Prof. Dr Sebastian Bersick was awarded a Jean Monnet Chair by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme. The funding enables the Ruhr-University Bochum (RUB), the Faculty of East Asian Studies, and the Department of International Political Economy of East Asia to intensify teaching and research activities and to organize new initiatives.
In April 2011, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris, a new documentary, "Jean Monnet: Father of Europe" was produced. The documentary includes interviews with colleagues of Monnet such as Georges Berthoin, Max Kohnstamm and Jacques-René Rabier, as well as former member of the European Court of Justice David A.O. Edward of the United Kingdom.
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- Jean Lacouture (1990). The rebel 1890-1944 ; translated from the French by Patrick O'Brian. v.2 The ruler 1945-1970 ; translated from the French by Alan Sheridan. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-02699-3.
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- Katrin Rücker; Laurent Warlouzet (18 January 2009). Quelle(s) Europe(s)? / Which Europe(s)?: Nouvelles Approches en Histoire de L'Intégration Européenne/ New Approaches in European Integration History. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-90-5201-484-5.
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- François Duchêne (1994). Jean Monnet: The First Statesman of Interdependence. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-03497-4.
- Frederic J. Fransen (2001). The Supranational Politics of Jean Monnet: Ideas and Origins of the European Community. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-31829-0.
- Sylvain Schirmann (2008). Robert Schuman et les pères de l'Europe: cultures politiques et années de formation (in French). Peter Lang. ISBN 978-90-5201-423-4.