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Europe Policies at the Center of German Foreign Policy (October 24, 1966)

Walter Hallstein, president of the EC Commission between 1958 and 1967, gave this speech at a time when France was following its own path both within the EC and in relation to NATO and the U.S. Addressing the German delegation to the International Chamber of Commerce, Hallstein underscores the importance of European integration to the Federal Republic of Germany, arguing that it was crucial not only for cementing ties to the West but for resolving the German Question.

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The Political Conditions of German Foreign Policy toward Europe Today

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I think it is only possible to understand the development of the European Economic Community, which has assumed central importance, when it is viewed in the context of the network of treaties through which German foreign policy attempted, immediately after the founding of the Federal Republic, to reenter the family of nations as a reasonably respected member and to become so integrated in it that useful connections in our own interest have emerged. In the process, two types of treaties have been concluded, treaties of a more classical style, that is, of a looser type: not organized, without an individual personality, represented through organs. I am referring to the OEEC [Organization for European Economic Cooperation], the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, and NATO. All of these alliances were time-limited from the outset and belong to the more traditional type of alliance. The true innovation in postwar development was another type: the integrated communities. First, there was the trailblazing coal and steel community (ECSC), the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), which concerns a special case in energy and scientific policy, and the European Economic Community (EEC).

These were set up for the long term, with irreversible structures; or to use more dramatic language, they were supposed to constitute a lasting bond of the federal kind. They were made up of only six members, because no more than six countries were prepared to embark upon the great adventure that this was at the time. All six of these countries had been pushed by the war to the limits of their survival. This also explains why in these countries, and only in these countries, men who were determined to try radical new solutions stood up. This association was also helped by the fact that the economic interests of the six countries were relatively homogeneous. To the extent that they were not, they were still sufficiently complementary to give the project as a whole enough chance for lasting stability. On top of this came the awareness that a modern political economy can prosper in the long run only as a larger regional economy or by being embedded in a larger regional economy. In Europe, not a single country remained that would have been more than a middle power, that would have had a sufficient power base to assume the role of superpower. In contrast, there were two powers of continental dimensions: the United States of America on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other. It did not take all that much imagination to recognize that it was only possible to survive if one successfully attempted to follow suit. At the center of all this was – and is and always will be – Franco-German reconciliation.

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