The national delegations

The national delegations

Once the proposal that a Congress for Europe be held had been accepted, the organisers were swift to convey their determination to involve eminent figures and representatives of the vital forces across the continent. In this way, they sought to ensure that the Congress had the desired impact and to bring home the concept of a united Europe to decision-makers and the general public alike.

For practical organisational reasons, the number of participants was limited to a total of 800. In addition to the national delegations, observers from the countries deprived of democracy, as well as from the Vatican and the United States, were invited to attend. The individual national committees were concerned, within the numerical limits set, to select delegations that were varied and representative in composition, it being understood that participants were not constrained by ‘mandates’ but took part in the deliberations in The Hague in a personal capacity.

In the end, 18 national delegations attended the Congress. The countries officially represented were: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, France, West Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Greece. They were joined by observers from Bulgaria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Spain, the United States and Yugoslavia. The Saar, which had been independent of West Germany since 1947, was also represented by a numerically small delegation.

The Congress was eventually attended by 740 delegates and observers, a substantial number of Italian MPs being detained at home by presidential elections, while transport problems made attendance difficult for those travelling from Turkey. The three largest delegations were those from France, the United Kingdom and Belgium. The individual figures for delegations and observers were: Germany: 51; Austria: 12; Belgium: 68; Bulgaria: 3; Canada: 2; Denmark: 32; Ireland: 5; Spain 7; Finland: 1; France: 155; Greece: 18; United Kingdom: 145; Hungary: 4; Iceland: 1; Italy: 57; Liechtenstein: 3; Luxembourg: 8; Norway: 12; Netherlands: 59; Poland: 5; Portugal: 4; Romania: 5; Vatican: 1; Saar: 5; Sweden: 19; Switzerland: 40; United States: 4; Czechoslovakia: 10; Turkey: 1 and Yugoslavia: 3.

The participants, the overwhelming majority of whom were men, included more than a few pro-European militants who had already been active in the inter-war period. Prominent among these were Sir Arthur Salter, Head of the Economic and Financial Committee of the League of Nations, who, in 1930, had supported UK approval of the Briand plan for a European Federal Union, Sir Walter Layton, Editor of The Economist, Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, the founder in 1923 of the Paneuropean Union (Coudenhove took French nationality in March 1939 and was, naturally, a member of the French delegation), Daniel Serruys of France, who in 1927 headed the Economic Committee of the League of Nations, Émile Borel, the founder in 1927 of the French Committee for European Cooperation, Irénée van der Ghinst, who founded the Belgian Section of the Paneuropean Union and the European Economic Institute, Jacques Lacour-Gayet from France, the founder in 1925 of the Economic and Customs Action Committee (CAED), the lawyer Georges Scelle, who was active in the French Federation of Associations for the League of Nations, the French economist Jacques Rueff, a member of the Financial Section of the League of Nations, and the French federalist Alexandre Marc, the author in 1933 of a book entitled Jeune Europe.

Selecting the national delegations was not an easy proposition. No sooner had the International Committee of the Movements for European Unity taken its first steps, in late 1947, than substantial numbers of British Labour Party representatives raised objections to what they saw as too large a presence of Conservative leaders. The Labour leadership even tried to dissuade its members from going to The Hague. They were concerned that the Congress of Europe might above all serve as a platform for Winston Churchill who, since the end of the Second World War, had liked to be seen as a champion of the European cause. Labour were also critical of the former British Prime Minister’s virulent anti-Communism. Many European Socialist activists then decided that they too would spurn the event, out of solidarity with their British comrades. And, in April 1948, the International Socialist Conference became involved. All this did not, however, prevent some Socialist politicians and some trade unionists from taking part in the deliberations in The Hague, but in a personal capacity. Thus, the British delegation included more than 25 Labour MPs, among them Ronald Mackay, President of the British Section of the European Parliamentary Union (EPU), Victor Collins, Treasurer of the Federal Union movement, and Reverend Gordon Lang, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Europe Movement.

The national delegations were very varied in their composition. They included a former Head of State in the person of Marcel Pilet-Golaz, erstwhile President of the Helvetic Confederation; former Prime Ministers or Foreign Ministers such as Winston Churchill of Great Britain, Grégoire Gafenco, the former Romanian Foreign Minister, Édouard Daladier, the MP and former French Prime Minister, Albert-Édouard Janssen, the former Belgian Finance Minister, the MP and former British Foreign Secretary, Antony Eden, Juraj Krnjevic, the former Vice-President of the Council of Ministers of Yugoslavia, Knut Kristensen, the former Danish Prime Minister, the Spanish Socialist, Indalecio Prieto, several times a Minister under the Republic, Hjalmar J. Procopé, the former Finnish Foreign Minister, the French MPs and former Prime Ministers Paul Ramadier and Paul Reynaud, Tadeusz Romer, the former Polish Foreign Minister, and Paul van Zeeland, the former Belgian Prime Minister; serving Ministers such as the MP Jacques Augarde, French Undersecretary of State for Moslem Affairs, Gustav Heinemann, Minister of Justice of North Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Hoffmann, President of the Council of Ministers of the Saar, and François Mitterrand, the French Minister for War Veterans; presidents of political parties or trade unions such as Konrad Adenauer, President of the CDU in West Germany, Léon Chevalme, General Secretary of the French Metalworkers Federation, Alphonse Colle, leader of the Belgian Syndicat Libéral, the French MP Maurice Schumann, MP and President of the Mouvement Républicain Populaire (MRP), Auguste Cool, President of the Belgian Syndicat Chrétien, the Belgian Christian Social MP Henri Lambotte, Henri Davezac, the Assistant Vice-President of the French Electrical Construction Union, Ivo Duchacek, member of the Executive of the Czechoslovak Christian Popular Party, Carl Romme, President of the Dutch Catholic Party, Gaston Tessier, General Secretary of the Confederation of the Christian Workers of France, and Zivko Topalovic, leader of the Yugoslavian Socialist Party; MPs such as Édouard Bonnefous of France, President of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee; church leaders such as Monseigneur Georges Chevrot and, as the Vatican’s representative, the Internuncio Paolo Giobbe; diplomats such as André François-Poncet and Marquess André d’Ormesson, both French Ambassadors, Count Nicolò Carandini, former Italian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, writers such as Étienne Gilson, a member of the French Academy, the Englishmen Charles Morgan and Bertrand Russell, and Spain’s Salvador de Madariaga; academics such as Raymond Rifflet of the Free University of Brussels, Professor William Rappard, Director of the Institut Universitaire des Hautes Études Internationales at the University of Geneva, and Walter Hallstein, Rector of Frankfurt University; lawyers such as René Capitant and Léon Julliot de La Morandière, Professors and Dean at the Paris Law Faculty; doctors such as Lord Moran, President of the Royal College of Physicians, and Professor Michel Polonowski, a member of the French Academy of Medicine; leading scholars such as Émile Borel, a member of the Institut de France, and Gilbert Murray, former Professor at Oxford University; explorers such as Peter Fleming and Henry de Ségogne, formerly French Commissioner for Tourism; economists such as France’s Jacques Rueff, President of the Interallied Reparations Agency, Maurice Allais, Professor at the École Nationale des Mines, and Jan Tinbergen of the Netherlands; sociologists such as Sir Harold Butler, former head of the International Labour Organisation, and Louis Salleron; company heads such as Jacques Lacour-Gayet, a leading figure in the Economic and Customs Action Committee, Baron Pierre Hély d’Oissel, Managing Director of the Saint-Gobain company, and P. Otten of the Netherlands, Managing Director of Philips; artists such as Sir Adrian Boult, conductor of the BBC Orchestra, and Paul Landowski, a member of the Académie Française des Beaux-Arts; journalists and essayists such as the Frenchmen Raymond Aron and René Courtin, Professor at the Paris Law Faculty, Lord Walter Layton, Chairman of the News Chronicle newspaper, R. Pilsudski and Raymond Silva; prominent female activists such as the MP Gilberte Brossolette, Vice-President of the Council of the Republic, Miss Frances L. Josephy, former President of the Federal Union movement, Germaine Peyroles, Vice-President of the French National Assembly, and Claire Saunier, Counsellor of the French Republic and President of the National Education Committee; returned deportees such as the French MP and former Minister, Edmond Michelet, and Countess Jean de Suzannet; unionists such as the Labour MP Hugh Delargy, Lafond, the General Secretary of the French Railwayworkers Federation, and Jean Mathé of the CGT-FO; leaders of federalist movements such as Jean Buchmann from Belgium, member of the Central Committee of the Union of European Federalists (UEF), Henri Koch of Luxembourg, Deputy General Secretary of the UEF, the Italian Altiero Spinelli, a member of the UEF’s Executive Committee, and, from France, André Voisin, Secretary-General of the Federation, Robert Bichet, President of the Nouvelles Équipes Internationales (New International Teams — NEI), Alexandre Marc, head of the Institutional Department of the UEF, and French MP François de Menthon, Chairman of the European Parliamentary Union’s Legal Committee. The French delegation included such representatives of colonial interests as Luc Durand-Réville, Counsellor of the Republic, Robert Lemaignen, President of the Committee for French Africa, Edmond Giscard d’Estaing, President of the Indochinese Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Henri Cangardel, former President of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and member of the Committee of the French Empire, and Georges Le Brun Kéris, member of the Assembly of the French Union.

Consult in PDF format