Acton Institute Powerblog

Samuel Gregg: Charles de Gaulle could have prevented the Brexit debate

The integration of Europe in the postwar era continues to roil politics continent-wide, most notably taking center stage in this week’s UK general election. Yet Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg writes that Charles de Gaulle could have spared Europe this future.

Gregg traces the history of European supranationalism from Immanuel Kant to Jacques Maritain’s Christian Democratic ideas in a new essay posted today at Law & Liberty. De Gaulle, although far from an isolationist, understood the reality of the nation and its culture, and resisted the centralizing tendencies of his contemporaries. These notions, and his desire to project French power, animated his own plan for Europe:

De Gaulle’s solution was expressed in what was known as the Fouchet Plan. Proposed by France to other EEC members throughout 1961-1962, adoption of this scheme for a “Union of States” might well have prevented the EEC from lurching in supranational direction.

What’s immediately noticeable about the Fouchet Plan’s two drafts is their emphasis upon nation-states as the central decision-makers and the strictly subsidiary role of pan-European institutions. Over and over again, the drafts refer to national governments freely cooperating in the pursuit of unanimously agreed-upon European goals. The means by which this would occur was through intergovernmental meetings and structures that didn’t involve any significant pooling of national sovereignty. This is how de Gaulle’s Europe des patries was to be accomplished.

You can read his full essay here.

(Photo credit: Public domain.)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.