Article written by Robert Schuman for the Pax Romana review in June 1953
One would make a mistake and be the victim of a dangerous illusion if one believed that, in order to make Europe, it would be sufficient to create European Institutions. It would be like a body without a soul. These institutions will have to be led by a European spirit, as His Holiness Pius XII defined it, in front of the members of the College of Europe in Bruges last March 15. The peoples belonging to a European Community will have to be aware of their solidarity, and place their trust in their mutual cooperation.
However, between nations that, a short while ago, were still fighting each other as enemies, the budding of such feelings will be slow and difficult; it will not only be antagonized by the memories of a recent past, but also by mistakes, blunders and sometimes deliberate provocations, finally by the apprehensions regarding the future. All these are reasons for us to succeed quickly.
First it is necessary to really want this union, and to persuade oneself of its necessity; then to implement it within a limited but important sector, as it was the case for the production of coal and steel. The relations that will thus be established between politicians and members of the business world, the community of interests and action that organizes itself between individuals and nations, all this constitutes an excellent school where the European spirit is learnt hands-on, by a sort of direct method, appreciated by pedagogues. The demonstration is thus made every day and the conviction settles that there is no such thing as irremediable antagonism and that cooperation is profitable to each.
These are, admittedly, only questions of interests, arising from a form of utilitarian pragmatism. They have their importance and their value should not be underestimated. It is indeed necessary that the peaceful relations between European nations don’t rely exclusively, as in the past, on legal engagements that are all too easy to disown or to forget. We want precisely to add to these engagements the guarantee of linked interests and permanent institutions…
It is necessary to recognize, however, that a great idea must be based on deeper foundations, on the spiritual values whose utmost importance has been underlined by the Pope, in a brilliant presentation.
To reach this aim, it would be necessary to rehabilitate these values, banished by materialism and selfishness from our national life, where distrust, fear and hate, these sources of disintegration and paralysis, are prevalent.
Our objective must be to establish a spiritual community between human beings and between nations.
It first means that it is necessary to know and to understand each other. Hence the necessity to multiply personal contacts, exchanges between students and between professors, between unionists and between businessmen and political leaders, and not only during conventions and field trips, but on the human level, where the soul can express itself, where you can reveal qualities of heart, family values as well as individual ones, present energies and the wealth of traditions.
These contacts and experiences are a far cry from tourist pleasures. They consciously and patiently prepare the cooperation between nations that so far had kept ignoring each other, confining themselves to a dangerous self withdrawal, driving to nationalistic pride and to pernicious prejudices. There is a first duty. A second one consists in searching in whatever is said or written, the factors that unite, instead of systematically underlining those that oppose. In the field of interests, there will always be conflicts that one will try to solve by the method indicated above. In the field of ideas, of intellectual and spiritual aspirations, clashes are less bitter, accommodations easier and less fragile. After the awful disasters of the two world wars, and in front of new threats, it is, above all, the idea of peace, the will for peace that forms the link and a strong starting point. Peace, not as an abstract notion or as a sentimental desire, but as a long and painstaking enterprise, in which everyone will have to get involved.
Those that are so lucky as to be able to contribute to this, thanks to their spirit of brotherhood based on a Christian conception of freedom and human dignity – will be among the best architects of a Europe thus renovated and united.