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Hallstein and de Gaulle: the Disastrous Confrontation

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Abstract

If the explanations of Charles de Gaulle are accepted, then there were never greater differences than those which led to the conflict between the first President of the EEC Commission and the first President of the Fifth Republic. In the press conference on 9 September 1965 in which he explained for the first time his policy of the ‘empty chair’ regarding the bodies of the EEC, he portrayed himself as the resolute defender of the ‘rights of French democracy’ against the ‘supranational demands of the Commission in Brussels’ which amounted to ‘the countries losing their national identity […] and a technocratic, stateless Areopagus ruling, with responsibility to no one’. De Gaulle called this an ‘unrealistic project’ and extolled the policy of the ‘empty chair’ as an act of liberating the French nation, reborn in the Fifth Republic, against the ‘usurpatory’ clutches of the Commission: ‘Naturally, we could not come to terms with this hypothec of a mostly foreign technocracy […] ever since we resolved to take our destiny into our own hands.’1

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  • Security Policy
  • Agricultural Commodity
  • Foreign Minister
  • Press Conference
  • National Parliament

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Notes

  1. Charles de Gaulle, Discours et messages: Tome IV: Pour l’effort Paris (Paris, 1970), pp. 372–92, here pp. 378–80.

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  2. de Gaulle, Mémoires de l’espoir: Tome I: Le Renouveau, 1958–1962 (Paris, 1970), pp. 194–6.

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  3. Walter Hallstein, speech of 1 March 1962, Europäische Reden (Stuttgart, 1979), p. 338.

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  4. Hallstein, Die Europäische Gemeinschaft (Düsseldorf, 1979), pp. 372 onwards.

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  5. Resolution proposal of the Gaullist parliamentary party in the National Assembly, 28 December 1951; de Gaulle, Lettres, Notes et Carnets Juin 1951–Mai 1958 (Paris, 1985), pp. 47–9.

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  6. de Gaulle, Discours et messages: Tome II: Dans l’attente, 1946–1958 (Paris, 1970), pp. 300–4. For greater detail on correcting former impressions of de Gaulle’s concept of Europe, see Wilfried Loth, ‘De Gaulle und Europa: Eine Revision’, Historische Zeitschrift 253 (1991) 629–60. 12 Testimony of his colleague, Pierre Maillard, in De Gaulle en son siècle: Tome V: LEurope (Paris, 1992), p. 417.

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  7. De Gaulle to Coudenhove-Kalergi, 30 December 1948; de Gaulle, Lettres, Notes et Carnets, Mai 1945–Juin 1951 (Paris, 1984), pp. 330–1.

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  8. Notes from 17 July 1961; de Gaulle, Lettres, Notes et Carnets, Janvier 1961–Décembre 1963 (Paris, 1986), pp. 107–8.

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  9. Compare Robert Bloes, Le ‘Plan Fouchet’ et le problème de l’Europe politique (Bruges, 1970) and Georges-Henri Soutou, ‘Le général de Gaulle et le plan Fouchet’, De Gaulle et son siècle: Tome V, pp. 126–43.

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  10. Such was his famous comparison in a conversation with French parliamentarians in early July 1963, quoted by Jean Lacouture, De Gaulle: Tome 3: Le souverain 1959–1970 (Paris, 1986), p. 308. For the context, compare Hans-Peter Schwarz, ‘Präsident de Gaulle, Bundeskanzler Adenauer und die Entstehung des Elysée-Vertrages’, De Gaulle, Deutschland und Europa, eds. Wilfried Loth and Robert Picht (Opladen, 1991), pp. 169–79; and Loth, ‘Adenauer and de Gaulle: Probleme einer politischen Partnerschaft’, Deutschland und der Westen: Band 2: Deutschland und seine westeuropäischen Nachbarn, eds. Franzesca. Schinzinger and Klaus Schwabe (Göttingen, 1994).

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  11. Franz Josef Strauss, Die Erinnerungen (Berlin, 1989), p. 432; see also p. 319.

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  12. John Newhouse, Collision in Brussels: The Common Market Crisis of 30 June 1965 (New York, 1967)

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  13. Newhouse, ‘Die Krise der EWG’, Die internationale Politik 1964–1965 (Munich, 1972), pp. 249–76

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  14. Hans von der Groeben, Aufbaujahre der Europäischen Gemeinschaft: Das Ringen um den Gemeinsamen Markt und die Politische Union: 1958–1966 (Baden-Baden, 1982), pp. 268–85.

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  15. Text in Heinrich von Siegler (ed.), Europäische politische Einigung 1949–1968 (Bonn, 1968), p. 304.

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  16. Robert Marjolin, Le travail d’une vie: Mémoires 1911–1986 (Paris, 1986), p. 346.

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  17. see also Rolf Lahr, Zeuge von Fall und Aufstieg: Private Briefe 1934–1974 (Hamburg, 1981), pp. 425–6.

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  18. Compare Lahr, ‘Die Legende vom “Luxembourger Kompromiss”’, Europa-Archiv 38 (1983) 223–7.

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© 1998 Institut für Europäische Politik

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Loth, W. (1998). Hallstein and de Gaulle: the Disastrous Confrontation. In: Loth, W., Wallace, W., Wessels, W. (eds) Walter Hallstein: The Forgotten European?. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-26693-7_10

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