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Jean Monnet and David Cameron: Two speeches, exactly 50 years apart

On 23 January 2013, David Cameron held his speech on British membership of the European Union. I am not sure anyone noticed, but exactly 50 years earlier, on 23 January 1963, Jean Monnet held a speech accepting the “Freedom Award” in New York in which he argued why Britain should be part of Europe:

“The next step ahead of us must clearly be to complete the unity of Europe including Britain […]. It is more than important, it is essential that Britain should join our European Community under the same conditions as the Six.

The negotiations have been going on too long but they can be rapidly concluded. We must remember that on fundamental issues, as two world wars have proved, Britain is part of Europe.

People in Britain and on the continent must free their minds of the obsolete and static idea that Britain, being an island, is bound to be insular, that she does not belong to Europe and that her commercial policies and interests will keep her forever apart from the natural trend towards European unit.

Entry into Europe would be good for Britain, for Europe, for the West and for world peace. I still hope and believe, like most people in the Six, that the negotations on Britain’s entry into Europe will succeed.”

The UK joined the European Community ten years later. And I have managed to keep my own “good” intentions for about three weeks.


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