In order to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris the Jean Monnet House in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne together with the Maison de l'Europe in Paris CIED launched the first of conference series “The Treaty of Paris, the first breath of European unity”. Secretary-General Klaus Welle contributed by giving a speech at this inaugural gathering.
Let me begin by thanking you for this invitation and for this opportunity to say something about the importance of the Treaty of Paris.
My talk could be very brief; I could simply say that without the Treaty of Paris we would not be here today, because that treaty paved the way for all subsequent developments.
I will, however, use the ten minutes I have been given to pick out ten points which illustrate the scale of the paradigm shift that the Treaty of Paris represented. It was not just one more in a long line of treaties, but a ground-breaking document which radically altered the political mentalities that held sway in Europe at that time.
In conclusion, I would also like to say a few words about the Jean Monnet House, which the European Parliament runs in Houjarray. All Parliament’s new officials now spend a few days there gaining a better insight into the origins and meaning of a united Europe. They are all given a copy of Jean Monnet’s Mémoires and in my discussions with them I trace a line back from current events to our sources of inspiration and our roots. Parliament’s Bureau holds regular meetings at the Jean Monnet House. But the Jean Monnet House is also used as the setting for meetings, for example with invited representatives of Ukraine, at which they discuss freely the state of their democracy, with a view to identifying ways of making it function better. A 36-room guest house is currently being fitted out to make the venue a kind of Camp David for the European Parliament. The plan is for more and more academic conferences to be held there.
In other words, the European Parliament is investing in its past as a way of investing in its future. Jean Monnet embodies, I believe, the spirit of the European Union, in its beginnings, in what it has become and in what it will become in the future, without forgetting his commitment to the transatlantic relationship or his recognition that the fight against totalitarianism called for cooperation among all democracies.