The united Europe of the socialists and the Socialist Movement for the United States of Europe (MSEUE)

The united Europe of the socialists and the Socialist Movement for the United States of Europe (MSEUE)

After the Liberation, the socialists updated their plans for a united Europe, which many of them had supported secretly through the Resistance during the war or even as far back as 1930 following in the footsteps of Aristide Briand and his celebrated plan for a European Federal Union. However, the socialists could not accept that the European idea be reduced merely to the restoration of a medieval Christian West. As a result, they condemned the threat of a ‘Vatican Europe’, described as a plot hatched by the Holy See, with the complicity of the European Christian democratic parties, to restore the foundations of a Christian Europe based on the medieval Holy Roman Empire. The socialists took the view that only democratic socialism offered an alternative to unbridled capitalism and totalitarian communism and that the immense difficulties associated with economic reconstruction could be resolved by compliance with the principles of justice, law, freedom and human dignity. They believed that a united Europe offered the advantage of efficiently slowing down the expansion of fascism and communism, while ensuring a lasting peace by interposing a third credible international force between the USA and the USSR. Some socialists advocated a united socialist Europe, as opposed to a Europe based on the interests of private capitalism under American influence. Others were more of the opinion that the various federalist and democratic movements must work together.

The Movement for the Socialist United States of Europe, whose President was André Philip, was born in Montrouge, near Paris, in June 1946, out of the will to create a socialist Europe independent of the USA and the USSR. It endeavoured to link up with the former internationalist tradition of the socialist parties, and its initial objective was to create a socialist programme for a united Europe. However, after the start of the Cold War, this ideological stance gradually gave way to a more cooperative approach, which led the movement to devote itself further to European integration. In 1947 it also changed its name to the Socialist Movement for the United States of Europe (MSEUE); this reflected its belief that Europe must first be created before the fight began for it to be socialist.

Its organisers praised European unification, but they could not envisage a united Europe without Germany and also without the participation of Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries, particularly since they believed that those countries were more imbued with the socialist spirit than the Six that formed the ‘mini-Europe’. With regard to economic issues, the MSEUE called for central planning of Europe’s basic industries and investment, in order to enable underdeveloped European and overseas countries to achieve economic progress.

In the context of the Cold War, where tensions were increasing daily, most socialists came to give active support to the Marshall Plan for aid to Western Europe in 1947. The establishment of communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe finally led to many socialists distancing themselves from doctrinaire positions and actively supporting European integration based on the Western alliance, although they frequently remained divided over the way in which this was to be achieved and the degree of sovereignty that they were ready to concede.

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