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Campaign for the European Federal Pact





Title:Campaign for the European Federal Pact
International Organization:Council of Europe
From: To:1949 - 1950
Promoters:Union of European Federalists
Aim:A constituent assembly


The proposal for a campaign for the federal union of Europe Pact was forwarded by the Italian MFE and accepted by the UEF the 31st October 1949, at its Extraordinary General Meeting in Paris, where (UEF) decides to launch a public campaign in support of the Federal Pact which it intends to submit to the Council of Europe. This approved the outline of a federal union pact, which was a schematic plan of a federal constitution. European citizens were asked to undersign a petition asking the Consultative assembly of the CoE and national Parliaments to draw up a Federal Pact irrevocably uniting European democratic nations and founding a democratically elected European authority, with limited byt effective powers. The pact should become effective as soon as it had been ratified by a minimum number of countries stated in the pact itself. 

Campaign's Objectives

The campaign consisted of an attempt to transform the Advisory Assembly of the Council of Europe (whose foundation had its origins in the Hague Congress) into the Constituent Assembly of the European Federation. The fundamental tool was a petition, signed by thousands of citizens of Europe and a large number of eminent persons in political, intellectual and scientific life, which asked the Advisory Assembly to draw up a text for a federal pact, and recommend its ratification to the member states of the Council of Europe.

Who Supported the Campaign

The campaign for the Federal Pact was supported by the SMUSE, the NEI and the Movimento dei Lavoratori Cristiani per l'Europa (the Christian Workers for Europe Movement). It took place in 1950 and was led by an international campaign committee formed by top level European personalities and was initiated in individual countries under the responsability of the national campaign committees. The most significant results, which met with the indifference if not the hostility of the EM, with the exception of a number of national councils, were obtained in Italy, France and Germany, while in the other countries no relevant results were achieved.


The fundamental tool was a petition which asked the Advisory Assembly to draw up a text for a federal pact, and recommend its ratification to the member states of the Council of Europe. They would have to commit to implementing it as soon as it was ratified by a number of states comprising a total population of at least one hundred million inhabitants. During the course of 1950, the petition was signed by more than 500,000 Italian citizens, by 1/3 of 30,000 French mayors, and was adhered to in Germany by the vast majority of the population on the occasion of a series of referendums organised in collaboration with the municipal administrations of Breisach, Castrop-Rauxel, Munich, Bad-Reichenall and Traunstein.

The campaign

In Italy – where the greatest success was achieved – by October the petition had been signed by 500,000 citizens, including 246 member of parliament, and was adopted by 493 municipal councils, 39 provincial administrations, the principal political parties, non-communist trade unions, non-communist partisan associations and a further 200 associations of various types. The gathering of signatures, in support of which more than 300 demonstrations were organized , was concluded with a great demonstration in Rome on November 4th 1950 at the Teatro Sistina. In the course of this demonstration, which was attended by the President of the Republic Einaudi, the petition was signed by the Prime Minister De Gasperi, the Foreign Minister Sforza, by another six ministers and seven undersecretaries. The petition was presented to the tow Italian chambers on November 7th, which on November 10th and 15th adopted a motion of identical content.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the campaign materialised, as well as in numerous demonstrations, in the organisations of a number of referendums on the Federal Pact. In the referendums held in July in collaboration with the municipal administrations of Breisach (a small town in Baden) and Castrop-Rauxel (and industrial town in Renania-Vestfalia with 70,000 inhabitants) 94.5% and 93% respectively of the adhesions of the participants were obtained (87.5% and 73%). A second referendum was held in November on the occasion of the elections to renew the Bavarian parliament. In the cities of Munich, Bad-Reichenall and Traunstein, 83.3%, 82.7% and 84.5% respectively of the population declared themselves in favour of a federal union of European states. The idea of the Federal Pact was also approved on July 26th by the Bundestag with a resolution which only four communist members of parliament voted against.

In France, the campaign was impeded by the existing rivalries between the various French federalist organisatons and began rather late, but nevertheless an important result was achieved, with the adhesion to the petition on the part of 1/3 of 30,000 French mayors.

The conclusion of the campaign for a Federal Pact on a European level was the meeting held between November 20th and 23rd 1950 in Strasbourg at the Orangerie hall (just a short distance from the Maison de l'Europe, seat of the Advisory Assembly) of the European Council of Vigilance, which was immediately renamed, upon the proposal of the director of “Franc Tireurs”, Georges Altman, the Council of the Peoples of Europe. The project conceived by Voisin, was taken forward by Frenay, president of the executive office of the UEF, Philip, the secretary general of the SMUSE, and Bichet, the president of the NEI. It took place immediately after the 3rd ordinary congress of the UEF and the 4th congresso of the SMUSE, which were held simultaneously in Strasbourg from November 17th to 19th.


The Council of the Peoples of Europe, in which a number of important representatives of trade unions, industry, agriculture, the churches, education and science participated, approved and appeal to those states willing to accept a limitation to their sovereignty to commit to the immediate signing of an international treaty which would summon as soon as possible a constituent assembly iwth the task of drafting the Federal Pact. It therefore attempted to push the Advisory Assembly to oppose the Council of Ministers. Which impeded through unanimous voting any kind of development of a federal nature on the part of the Council of Europe, and even invited a secession on the part of those members of federal pesuasion. However, the resolution inspired by federalist principles, presented by members Philip and Gérard Jaquet to the Advisory Assembly, received a cold response in which the Council of Europe was indicated as the only foundation on which it was possible to construct a united Europe. The federalist acton towards the Council of Europe then concluded on November 24th with a demonstration by 5,000 young people (in front of the Maison de l'Europe), organised by the Jeunesses Fédéralistes Européennes (JEF), which had only just been founded, in order to express its dissatisfaction ahead of the impotence and lack of courage of the Advisory Assembly.

The results

The campaign for the federal pact was not therefore able to achieve its primary objective, which was that of obtaining on the part of the Advisory Assembly the launch of a courageous and incisive initiative in favour of European federation. During the meetings and demonstrations held in Strasbourg between November 17th and 24th 1950, the federalists became well aware of the Council of Europe's inability to provide the stimulus for the progress of European unification and the far greater possibilities contained in the Schuman and Pleven Plans, both for their more advanced nature with regard to the specific proposals they contained, and for the fact that British adhesion was not considered an essential condition. The UEF therefor e accepted Spinelli's proposal to launch the idea that the European constituent could be created outside the institutional framework of the Council of Europe, and it prepared to exploit the opportunities that emerged in this regard from the new phase of funcionalist integration founded on the community method.

The campaign for the federal pact did not achieve its objective, but it laid the foundations for a subsequent and rather more incisive action in this phase. It centred on art. 38 of the European Defence Community (EDC) and on the European Political Community (EPC), in which the fundamental federalist interlocutors on a governmental level were Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcide De Gasperi. When, in relation to the reconstruction of West Germany, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was founded upon the initiative of Jean Monnet (1888-1979), and negotiations began on the EDC, the intervention of the UEF was crucial to obtaining a connection (through art. 38 of the EDC) between the creation of a European army and the assignment of the task of drafting a project for political union to the Parliamentary Assembly of the ECSC. The EPC project, presented in March 1953, would have placed the ECSC, the EDC and the design (notably supported by the Dutch minister Jan Willem Beyen) of complete economic integration, in a framework with strongly, if not completely, federal characteristics. Its acceptance would have therefore created particularly solid foundations for rapid progress towards a federal European state. The EPC, however, was not ratified because it was inextricably linked to the EDC, which was rejected by the French National Assembly on August 30th 1954.




Résolution de l'UEF sur la campagne populaire en faveur du Pacte fédéral (29-31 octobre 1949) *

L'Assemblée Générale Extraordinaire de l'Union Européenne des Fédéralistes appelle l'attention de toutes les organisations et de tous les militants fédéralistes européens sur l’importance du Pacte fédéral qu’elle propose à l'Assemblée consultative et au Comité des ministres européens de Strasbourg d'adopter sans délai.

Etant donné la gravité de la situation internationale et les risques que court l'idée européenne si l'on ne passe pas rapidement à des réalisations pratiques, l'U.E.F. demande à tous ses membres de se considérer comme mobilisés au service de l'idée d'un Pacte fédéral destiné à apporter la première preuve d'une solidarité européenne effective.

Pour faire triompher cette idée, il faut alerter l'opinion publique de tous les pays et lui demander son appui actif. De tous les points du Continent, de toutes les villes, de tous les villages, doit se faire entendre la voix populaire.

C’est donc vers une puissante campagne d'agitation et de propagande en faveur du Pacte que l'U.E.F. demande à ses membres de s'orienter.

Dans chaque pays, il est nécessaire de constituer rapidement de vastes comités de patronage et d'organisation chargés de préparer une grande campagne populaire de pétition en faveur du Pacte.

Pour constituer ces comités de patronage, l'Assemblée générale demande à ses organisations et à ses militants de faire appel aux personnalités les plus représentatives des diverses couches sociales ou tendances politiques ou religieuses dans leurs pays respectifs, et qui, à un titre quelconque, jouissent d'une autorité ou sont investies d'une responsabilité politique, économique ou sociale : parlementaires, magistrats municipaux, présidents de Conseils généraux, éducateurs, présidents ou secrétaires de syndicats ouvriers, patronaux, directeurs de journaux, écrivains, savants, etc...

Ces comités prépareront la deuxième phase de la campagne qui tendra à recueillir les signatures de plusieurs millions d'Européens, à transmettre aux autorités gouvernementales de chaque pays et au Conseil de l'Europe de Strasbourg.

C'est à cette tâche urgente et d'une importance politique primordiale que l'U.E.F. demande à tous ses membres de s'atteler avec ardeur et enthousiasme.

Par la part qu'elle prendra au succès de cette campagne, notre organisation aura l'occasion de démontrer que son dynamisme reste indispensable à la création d'une Europe fédérale.

* Source of resolution

Archives historiques du Conseil de l'Europe - Historical archives of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg. Union européenne des fédéralistes, 03427, Vol. 1, 1949. Copyright © Archives historiques du Conseil de l'Europe 



Sergio Pistone, Uef newsletter – special edition – 60 years of UEF
The Union of European Federalists, Sergio Pistone, Centre for Studies on Federalism, Giuffrè Editore, 2008.
Umberto Morelli, The campaign for the federal union of Europe pac, in AA.VV., I movimenti per l'unità europea, 1945-1954, Edizioni Universitarie Jaca


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