• Adrian Waters

Charles De Gaulle and his 'Europe of Nations' - Theory and Practice

Introduction

Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970) was France’s President from 1958 to 1969 after pursuing a military career during the First World War and leading the resistance movement known as the ‘Free French Forces’ during the Second World War against the Axis powers and the collaborationist Vichy regime. When he became France’s head of state, he devised a new constitution which founded the French Fifth Republic that lasts to this day. Possibly the most influential Frenchman of the 20th century, his Politics of Grandeur promoted a strong France as an independent great power. This influenced his policy with regards to European integration as he promoted a Europe of states “from the Atlantic to the Urals”, a confederation that would act as a third superpower between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Worried about the decline of national influence in the European Economic Community (EEC), i.e. the antecedent of the contemporary European Union, De Gaulle proposed the Fouchet Plan, a blueprint for the formation of a loose intergovernmental union of European nation-states. While it was never put into practice since other states were unenthusiastic, the Fouchet Plan endures as an inspiring document for a democratic European alternative. It also demonstrated De Gaulle’s forward thinking and the significance of cooperation between different countries in an increasingly interconnected world (Project for Democratic Union, 2013). This research piece will aim to explain the French President’s views of an ideal European confederation and how successfully (or unsuccessfully) he tried to make it a reality through the Fouchet Plan.


De Gaulle’s background

Charles De Gaulle was born into a Roman Catholic, patriotic and nationalist upper-middle-class family, which had