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Volume 7

Berghahn Monographs in French Studies

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France and the Construction of Europe, 1944-2007

The Geopolitical Imperative

Michael Sutton

366 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-393-0 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (December 2007)

ISBN  978-0-85745-290-0 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (March 2011)

eISBN 978-0-85745-292-4 eBook

Hb Pb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Buy the ebook from these vendors


Combining a rich array of secondary sources with a solid assortment of published primary sources such as memoirs and official papers, Sutton presents a highly detailed, interpretive account that represents a valuable contribution to our understanding of contemporary European history.  ·  The Historian

Michael Sutton’s admirable book is a very comprehensive and very well researched history of France’s European policy since 1944, including economic aspects. Going actually beyond its title, this volume covers most major aspects of French foreign policy, in a precise as well as readable way. This makes the book useful for students, but also for professional historians and the general public.”  ·  Journal of Contemporary History

Michael Sutton has produced an eminently readable and strongly researched overall history of France’s tireless efforts in favor of ‘la construction européenne’… The book is a veritable tour de force and will long be cited as a primary reference on France’s tortuous relations with Europe.  ·  French Politics, Culture & Society

This fine survey of France’s role in European integration since World War II… covers the most significant negotiations on European integration from early postwar plans for regional customs unions to the abortive European Constitution. Students of France’s role in European politics will find it useful for several reasonsSutton has succeeded admirably in making his case and presenting an exceptionally lucid account of several decades of complicated political and economic maneuver."”  ·  H-Diplo

"The book is highly impressive in its range, integrating such issues as the impact of the Cuban missile crisis into its account of Franco-American relations and the implications for France's position in Europe. It is also impressive in its command of intricate detail in the technical, economic sphere and in high-level negotiations, as well as in behind-the-scenes maneuvers taking place in parallel to more overt diplomacy."  ·  French Studies

"Sutton's important work has the merit of making known a whole range of French historiography that, because of not being available in English translation, is not accessible to scholars who do not read French. At the same time, he brings together, in an original manner, the main results of historical research on the role of France in Europe, a theme that is of vital importance still today."  ·  Modern & Contemporary France

"[The author] has written an excellent chronicle of the central episodes of European construction, from the invention of the ECSC to the Maastricht Treaty and beyond, keeping French initiatives, breakthroughs, and missteps clearly in view. He has also made the more recondite economic complexities of the story intelligible to general readers. As a result, Sutton has produced an important overview of European integration that highlights the influence French leaders exerted in building what by the 1990s had become the fundamental structures of the European Union we know today."  ·  H-France

"Sutton has a feel both for the ongoing manoeuvres of the main protagonists and for the continuities of the broad picture. He keeps the context constantly in geopolitical focus, drawing upon a wide range of reliable secondary sources. [His] scrupulous study will allow both protagonists and antagonists to recognize why the European show is still on the road, but now arouses fears rather than hopes."  ·  European History Quarterly


In the second half of the twentieth century France played the greatest role - even greater than Germany’s - in shaping what eventually became the European Union. By the early twenty-first century, however, in a hugely transformed Europe, this era had patently come to an end. This comprehensive history shows how France coupled the pursuit of power and the furtherance of European integration over a sixty-year period, from the close of the Second World War to the hesitation caused by the French electorate’s referendum rejection of the European Union’s constitutional treaty in 2005.

Michael Sutton is Professor Emeritus, Modern History and International Relations, at Aston University. He has written regularly on France for The Economist Intelligence Unit - part of The Economist newspaper group - since 1985, and worked in Brussels from 1973 to 1993 monitoring European Community developments. He is also a specialist in twentieth-century French political thought and philosophy.

Subject: Economic History Postwar History
Area: France Europe


Abbreviations and Acronyms

Introduction: De Gaulle’s Shadow


Chapter 1. Before the Schuman Plan
Earlier Calls for European Union
The Quest for Security and the Onset of the Cold War
Western European Economic and Political Cooperation
Wariness about the New West Germany

Chapter 2. Pooling Coal and Steel
The Monnet Initiative
The Schuman Declaration
Forging the ECSC Treaty
Ratification and Implementation

Chapter 3. German Rearmament and Military Security
The Pleven Plan
The Rejection of the EDC Treaty
The Paris Accords
The Suez Crisis and its Aftermath

Chapter 4. The Gaullist Vision of the Atlantic Alliance and European Union
Adenauer, the US, and the Berlin Crisis
The Failure of the Fouchet Committee
A Rose and a Rose Garden
‘Tous Azimuts’ and the Limits of Détente


Chapter 5. The Benelux Initiative and the Formation of the Common Market
Messina to Venice
Negotiating the EEC and Euratom
De Gaulle’s ‘Practising the Common Market’
Securing Agricultural Interests

Chapter 6. Moving from Dirigisme to Qualified Economic Liberalism
The Watering Down of Post-war Dirigisme
Delors and the Single Market
The Reorientation of Foreign Trade
Globalisation and French Hesitations


Chapter 7. European Political Integration up to the Cold War’s Close
The Rapprochement with Albion
Echoes of the Fouchet Proposals
America’s ‘Year of Europe’ and the Atlantic Alliance
Back to the Elysée Treaty

Chapter 8. Opposition to German Monetary Hegemony
The Death of the Bretton Woods System
The Deutsche Mark as Anchor Currency
The EMS and its Ambivalent Design
The Dictates of the ERM and French Dissatisfaction

Chapter 9. Geopolitical Upheaval and the Maastricht Treaty
Monetary Union Proposed from Paris and Bonn
France and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Drive for German Unification
Providing a Treaty for European Union

Chapter 10. Post-Yalta and Post-Maastricht Europe
Implementing EMU and ‘La Pensée Unique’
The Yugoslav Imbroglio
Rethinking Security and Defence
The European Union and the Other Europe


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