How many founding fathers of the EU? A Belgian answer

In 2002, Belgium minted a 100 euro collector coin for the 50th anniversary of the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).1 On the reverse side, the coin bears a map of the European Union. Here is the description of its obverse.

Art. 3 On the obverse, the coin bears the effigies (from left to right) of Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman and Paul-Henri Spaak, overlying the representation of the plan of the Berlaimont building and surrounded by their names.2

14 NOVEMBRE 2002. – Arrêté royal relatif à l’émission de pièces commémoratives de 100 EURO en or à l’occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de l’institutionnalisation de la Communauté européenne du Charbon et de l’Acier (CECA)

Designer: Willem Vis. https://ru.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4382960

Even if the symbolism of the Berlaymont building is easily understood, purists may consider its presence an anachronism on this piece, as the work for its construction only started in 1963 and it only opened in 1967, sixteen years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris that established the ECSC.

More curious is the number and choice of people represented on the coin. Indeed, the treaty is signed by six countries, and the plenipotentiaries of the six heads of state3 are Paul van Zeeland and Joseph Meurice for Belgium, Robert Schuman for France, Konrad Adenauer for the Federal Republic of Germany, Carlo Sforza for Italy, Joseph Bech for Luxembourg, Dirk Stikker and Jan van den Brink for the Netherlands. So, on the Belgian coin, with its 3 men, that does not add up (one would expect 6 or 8 people), and they are not the right people. While the signatures of Schuman and Adenauer adorn the Treaty of Paris, the name of Paul-Henri Spaak does not figure on it.4 Obviously, the Belgian politician is linked to the ECSC, as he was, in 1952, the first president of the Common Assembly, its deliberative body, the first incarnation of the European Parliament.

One would be very pleased to know how the decision was made to exclude certain countries from the coin and to include Spaak.5 In order to understand the originality of this image, it must be considered among the iconography of the “Fathers of Europe” (Yes, no mother; the European Union is well within the series of strange births and pairings of European culture).6

Here are, in decreasing order, the lists of “fathers of Europe” that I know. Do not hesitate to point out others to me:

Source Names Number of people
C. Constantin, Les pères de l’Europe en héritages7 Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bech, Johan Willem Beyen, Georges Bidault, Alcide de Gasperi, Maurice Faure, Walter Hallstein, Joseph Luns, Gaetano Martino, Guy Mollet, Jean Monnet, Antoine Pinay, Christian Pineau, René Pleven, Robert Schuman, Antonio Segni, Carlo Sforza, Jean Charles Snoy et d’Oppuers, Paul-Henri Spaak, Altiero Spinelli, Dirk Stikker, Paul Van Zeeland, Simone Veil, Louise Weiss 24
European Union (Official site), EU Pioneers Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bech, Johan Willem Beyen, Winston Churchill, Alcide de Gasperi,
Nicole Fontaine, Walter Hallstein, Ursula Hirschmann, Nilde Iotti, Marga Klompé, Helmut Kohl, Anna Lindh, Sicco Mansholt, Melina Mercouri, François Mitterrand, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak, Altiero Spinelli, Simone Veil, Louise Weiss
21
Monumentul părinților fondatori ai Uniunii Europene (Monument to the Founding Fathers of the European Union) (Bucarest, 2006) (See pictures below) Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bech, Johan Willem Beyen, Alcide de Gasperi, Walter Hallstein, Sicco Mansholt, Jean Monnet, Jean Rey, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak, Altiero Spinelli, Pierre Werner 12

European Union,

The Founding Fathers of the EU

(official site ; no date, archived version 30/11/1998)

Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bech, Johan Willem Beyen, Winston Churchill, Alcide de Gasperi, Walter Hallstein, Sicco Mansholt, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak, Altiero Spinelli 11
– Article Wikipédia “Pères de l’Europe”8
– Fondation Robert Schumann, Pères de l’Europe
Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bech, Johan Willem Beyen, Alcide De Gasperi, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak 7
Claudio Giulio Anta, Les pères de l’Europe: sept portraits (2007) Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi, Jacques Delors, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak, Altiero Spinelli 7
Council of Europe, Founding Fathers. The Builders (Official site) Konrad Adenauer, Ernest Bevin, Winston Churchill, Alcide De Gasperi, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak 6
Cover picture of the book Robert Schuman et les pères de l’Europe (Publication de la Maison de Robert Schuman, 2008) Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Beck, Alcide De Gasperi, Robert Schuman, Dirk Stikker, Paul van Zeeland 6
Christiane Wolters, Founding Fathers: Europeans Behind the Union, Deutsche Welle (2007) Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Winston Churchill, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak 5
– Monument “Hommage aux Pères fondateurs de l’Europe” (Scy-Chazelles, 2012)
Qui sont ces quatre pères de l’Europe ?, Ouest France (2 avril 2021) (See picture below)
Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Alcide De Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer 4
Belgian collection coin, 100 € (2002) Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman et Paul-Henri Spaak 3
European People’s Party, Our history (2012-2023) Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi, Robert Schuman 3
Monument to the Founding Fathers of the European Union, Bucarest ; Photo by CristianChirita; https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/100778_Parcul_Herastrau_B-II-a-A-18802.jpg
“Hommage aux Pères fondateurs de l’Europe” (Scy-Chazelles, 2012), sculpture by Zourab Tsereteli. Photo by Geertivp, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52210517

The trio of founding fathers on the Belgian collection coin thus offers a Belgian nationalist view of European construction, reinforced by the anachronistic presence of the Berlaymont building. For the moment, it is not worth speculating on the motivations of the image choice made, in particular on the erasure of Italy, but it is a question that should be kept in mind when exploring the archives of the Belgian Mint and the Belgian National Bank.

Sitography

Photo credits

Bucarest statues’ pictures: Mark Ahsmann — CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37520714, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37520717 et https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37520678.



Citer ce billet
Alexis D'Hautcourt (2023, 9 février). How many founding fathers of the EU? A Belgian answer. Faces d'identité. Consulté le 28 février 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/olzn

  1. French original version of this blog entry ; I am not a native English speaker. Please leave a comment if you see any strange English phrase. []
  2. Art. 3. A l’avers, la pièce porte les effigies conjuguées (de gauche à droite) de Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman et Paul-Henri Spaak superposant la représentation graphique du plan du bâtiment Berlaimont [sic] et entourées de leur nom. []
  3. For the record, exceptionally, it is not the King of the Belgians who represented his country, but the Royal Prince of Belgium. We are in the middle of the “Royal question“. []
  4. In a most noteworthy way, C. Constantin, p. 31, does not mention the ECSC among the “European institutions to which [he] contributed”. []
  5. On the mixed image of Spaak in Belgium, see Constantin p. 183-186. []
  6. For a historical analysis of the founding fathers, see, for instance, R.T. Griffiths, The Founding Fathers, The Oxford Handbook of the European Union, éd. par E. Jones et al. (Oxford, 2012), p. 181-192. []
  7. Cornelia Constantin, Les pères de l’Europe en héritages (Bruxelles et al., 2021), p. 31-38. []
  8. Contributeurs à Wikipédia, ‘Pères de l’Europe’, Wikipédia, l’encyclopédie libre, 12 janvier 2023, 04:55 UTC, <https://fr.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P%C3%A8res_de_l%27Europe&oldid=200369664> [Page consultée le 12 janvier 2023] (No source). The English Wikipedia article adopts the 11 people list. []
Publié le
Catégorisé comme English

Par Alexis D'Hautcourt

Professeur, Université des Langues Étrangères du Kansai (関西外国語大学, Kansai Gaidai University)

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