Jean Monnet

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Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet (born  November 9, 1888 in Cognac , France , †  March 16, 1979 in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne , Yvelines department near Paris ) was a French entrepreneur. He is considered to be the pioneer of European unification efforts, without ever having been a politician in the sense of an elected mandate holder - he was never a head of government or a minister. Monnet is considered one of the founding fathers of the European Communities and is known as the "Father of Europe".

Before his political career in France and Western Europe after the Second World War , he worked in his family's company, in international economic administration, as coordinator for armaments cooperation in both world wars and as deputy general secretary of the League of Nations. He was best known as the political architect who realized plans to merge Western European heavy industry. His concept of unification followed the principles of political functionalism and the spill-over effect , according to which "sectoral integration leads to an interweaving of more and more sectors and ultimately to the final stage of a general political federation" .


Memorial plaque
Memorial plaque in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne

Jean Monnet came from a French merchant dynasty who were active in the brandy trade (' Cognac '). As an entrepreneur, he spent several years in Warsaw , London , Shanghai and the USA , which is where his openness to the English-speaking world came from.

During the First World War , Monnet worked in inter-allied institutions of economic cooperation. These were international bodies with equal representation: first binationally British-French, then trinationally with Italy and finally with the USA as the fourth partner. In this organization, which was becoming ever closer and tighter, the western allies coordinated the war-economy goods demand and logistics. In 1917 a complex war-economy demand cartel with Allied Shipping Control as the center was created. It was about a comprehensive management of the war-related shortage and an effective regulation of the fierce procurement competition between the allies. From 1920 to 1923 he acted as the deputy general secretary of the League of Nations , then initially withdrew from the public and politics, worked for a time in the company of his family and in his own businesses, among others. a. a bank in California. Since 1932 he has held various international advisory functions, including a. also as an informal representative of the League of Nations in China , where he organized a consortium of local banks and, as their agent, obtained credit from abroad.

In 1939, aware of the impending armed conflict with Germany, Monnet again initiated a war-economy cooperation between France and Great Britain and himself became head of this "allied coordination committee", a binational demand cartel with a joint purchasing subsidiary in the USA. Monnet emphasized in 1940 a. a. opposed Churchill the need for a closer union of France and England and suggested a "single Franco-British union" between the two. He stayed in the USA from 1940-1943 on behalf of the British, where he worked out the plan to convert the US economy from peace to war production ("Victory Program"). In 1943, Monnet's influence on General Henri Giraud ensured that he finally released Algiers from the Vichy regime under the eyes of the Americans . Monnet took part in the work of the Comité francais de la Liberation nationale (CFLN) in 1943/44 .

Jean Monnet (left) visiting
Konrad Adenauer in 1953

From 1946 to 1950 Monnet was the first head of the Commissariat général du Plan (French planning office) and planned modernization programs for the French economy. With the " Monnet Plan " (1946–1950) he envisaged a major modernization program for the French economy and a huge expansion of French steel capacity. There he later developed the idea of ​​uniting the Western European coal and steel industry with the involvement of the former enemy state Germany. On May 9, 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented this idea to the public in a government statement. Since then it has been known as the Schuman Plan , but should have been called the Monnet Plan in terms of its spiritual origin. Robert Schuman declared in a speech at a trade union meeting in Metz in 1950: “In truth, this plan (the Schuman Plan) is the continuation of the Monnet Plan” and, “solely to facilitate French steel exports”, France “took on this mission”. According to Hans Ritschl : "This speech was not intended for German ears!"

Monnet himself became chairman of the Paris Schuman Plan Conference, which led to the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC, Montanunion). From 1952 to 1955 he was the first president of the high authority ( "haute autorité" ) of the coal and steel union , which was merged with the commissions of the EEC and EURATOM to form the European Commission with the merger agreement of 1965 . He was thus the first President of the forerunner of the European Commission. In these functions Monnet rose to become one of the most influential economic and integration politicians in Europe, who gained international renown on many political levels. But after only three years this office gave up. Because "detailed administrative work" did not satisfy him.

Monnet remained politically active until 1975 (see also Action Committee for the United States of Europe ). From 1955 Monnet played a decisive role in the political ideas for the establishment of Euratom , the establishment of a political union, the expansion into a monetary union, the formation of a council of heads of state and government and the accession of the United Kingdom to the EC ; He also developed proposals for sustainable EC relations with the US.

Monnet method

The neo-functionalist integration concept of "the dynamics in small steps of sustainable importance" goes back to Monnet , which was mainly implemented on the basis of the EG / EU:

  • Concrete solidarity indeed
  • Limited transfer of real skills
  • Stage (s) on the way to an as yet less pronounced finalité:
  • Economic instruments as a means of political integration
  • Co-product of the policy field and institutional design
  • Elite decisions made by consensus
  • Basic decision for the European Federation as a peace community
  • The Franco-German core as the nucleus of the unification policy

Recent research has shown considerable parallels to the unification method of the earlier commercial cartels : Monnet's insistence on supranational forms of unification would correspond to the striving for higher-order cartel forms, i.e. the syndicate form . Monnet's experience that purely intergovernmental alliances remain ineffective had been discovered decades earlier by entrepreneurs interested in cartelization in a different context - on the basis of the looser, non-institutionalized price and production agreements - which in fact remained unstable and fleeting.


Special honor during his lifetime, a postage stamp from the Deutsche Bundespost on the occasion of honorary citizenship of Europe (1977)

Jean Monnet received numerous awards in the course of his life, including the Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen on May 17, 1953 as the creator of the first sovereign supranational European institution. In 1959 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany . In 1962 Monnet was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . On December 6, 1963, he received the US President's Medal of Freedom from Lyndon B. Johnson for his services to the unification of Europe and the effectiveness of cooperation between the Atlantic nations. The heads of government of the EC made him the first honorary citizen of Europe in 1976, an award that was only given to Helmut Kohl again in 1998. After Monnet's death, his remains were transferred to the Panthéon in Paris by decision of the French National Assembly and buried in a grave of honor .

Jean Monnet Chair

The European University Council , consisting of rectors and European law experts from European universities, awards the designation “Jean Monnet Chair” to chairs in a Europe-wide selection process within the framework of the Erasmus + program . The name is linked to a strong European orientation of the chairs in research and teaching. It brings the respective chair additional financial resources co-financed by the university . There are Jean Monnet chairs in Germany particularly in the areas of law ( European law ), politics and economics . Such a chair has been established, for example, at the following universities (alphabetically):

Since 2014, the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Harald Sander) has been represented as the first university .

International, among others, are the Jean Monnet Center at New York University Law School, headed by Joseph HH Weiler , which regularly publishes Jean Monnet Working Papers . The Jean Monnet Center of Excellence of the Institut d'études politiques de Paris ("Sciences Po") is headed by Renaud Dehousse.

The Jean Monnet Chair at the Faculty of East Asian Studies (RUB)

In September 2016 Sebastian Bersick was awarded a Jean Monnet Chair by the European Commission as part of the Erasmus + program. The funding enables the Ruhr-Universität 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.

Famous quotes

Likewise, "The roots of the community are so strong now, and they reach deep into the earth of Europe" .

It is not certain, however, whether the saying “If I had to do it again, I would start with the culture” can actually be ascribed to Jean Monnet . According to the Jean Monnet Foundation, this sentence clearly does not come from Monnet. Rather, the French Minister of Culture Jacques Lang is said to have said: "Monnet aurait pu dire ...", Monnet could / should have said.

Further honors

In Germany, some cities (e.g. Berlin , Bocholt , Bonn , Frankfurt am Main , Freiburg im Breisgau , Villingen-Schwenningen , Wiesbaden , Föhren / Trier industrial park ) have named him "Jean-Monnet-Straße" in honor of a street. given.



  • Francois Duchene: Jean Monnet. The First Statesman of Interdependence , New York 1994.
  • Eric Roussel: Jean Monnet: 1888–1979 , Paris 1996.
  • Gerard Bossuat, Andreas Wilkens (eds.): Jean Monnet, l'Europe et les chemins de la Paix , Paris 1999.
  • Wolfgang Wessels : Jean Monnet. Human and method , Vienna 2000.
  • Frederic J. Fransen: The Supranational Politics of Jean Monnet . Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. 2001, ISBN 0-313-31829-8 .
  • François Roth: L'invention de l'Europe: de l'Europe de Jean Monnet à l'Union européenne , Paris 2005.
  • Andreas Bracher: Europe in the American World System: Fragments of an Unwritten History of the 20th Century , Chapter: Jean Monnet - "Father of a United Europe", Basel 2007, European Series, Volume 2, ISBN 978-3-907564-50- 9
  • Holm A. Leonhardt: Cartel theory and international relations. Theory- historical studies , Hildesheim 2013 (pp. 522–647: Monnet's professional activity analyzed from a cartel theory perspective).
  • Andreas Wilkens (Ed.): Connecting interests. Jean Monnet and the European Integration of the Federal Republic of Germany , Bonn (Bouvier) 1999 (Paris Historical Studies, 50), ISBN 3-416-02851-1 . Online at
  • Klaus Schwabe : Jean Monnet. France, the Germans and the unification of Europe . (Publications of the Historians Liaison Group at the EC Commission). Nomos, Baden-Baden 2016. ISBN 978-3-8487-3385-9 .

Web links

Commons : Jean Monnet  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jean Monnet - Man and Method Overrated and outdated? Wolfgang Wessels, May 2001
  2. European Commission: Jean Monnet - Uniting power in the birth of the European Union . In: European Union website . Accessed on April 19, 2017 (PDF, 186 kB)
  3. ^ Oppermann / Claassen / Nettesheim, Europarecht, 4th edition Munich 2009
  4. Jean Monnet: Memories of a European. Munich / Vienna 1978, [5. From Cognac to Poland, from California to China 1923–1938], pp. 127–148.
  5. ^ Frederic J. Fransen: The supranational politics of Jean Monnet. Ideas and origins of the European Community . Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. 2001, pp. 72-74.
  6. ^ Jean Monnet, Memories of a European, Munich / Vienna 1978, p. 33
  7. Hans Ritschl : The Schuman Plan: The new Ruhr authority , Der Spiegel 1951
  8. Jean Monnet, Recollections of a European, Munich / Vienna 1978, p. 506, cites 10 February 1955 as the date on which he left the High Authority .
  9. Günther Nonnenmacher : The European networker . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 4, 2017, p. 6.
  10. ^ A b Helmut Schmidt in the foreword (p. 12) to Jean Monnet, Memories of a European, Munich / Vienna 1978
  11. Jean Monnet - Man and Method Overrated and outdated? Wolfgang Wessels, May 2001 (p. 7 ff.) Http://
  12. ^ Holm A. Leonhardt: Cartel theory and international relations. Theory- historical studies , Hildesheim 2013, pp. 522–647
  13. ^ Leonhardt, Kartellheorie, pp. 645–647
  14. Charlemagne Prize Winner 1953
  15. Freedom Medal 1963 (also contains a detailed description of how the Schuman Plan came about)
  16. Website of the EU Commission , accessed on May 14, 2015
  17. Chair of Economics
  18. ^ Friedrich Schiller University Jena ( Memento from August 25, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  20. [1]
  21. quoted from Oppermann, Europarecht, 3rd edition 1999, foreword with reference to Jean Monnet, Recollections of a European, Munich / Hauser, 1978, p. 660
  22. ^ Oppermann / Classen / Nettesheim, Europarecht, 4th edition Munich 2009, § 36 III., P. 648, Rn. 54