Luxembourg compromise

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The Luxembourg Compromise (or "Luxembourg Accord") was an agreement reached in January 1966 to resolve the "empty chair crisis" which had caused a stalemate within European Economic Community.

Charles de Gaulle

French President Charles de Gaulle, pictured in 1961

Whereas the founding fathers of the EEC (Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet) were avowed European integrationists, Charles de Gaulle was a French nationalist.[dubious ][citation needed] In 1960 de Gaulle believed that a council of the heads of government should be created with a secretariat in Paris. He desired a European institution that would give France greater power in Europe. He also sought to create a political union to further the economic union already in existence, the European Economic Community. This was his second attempt at creating more political coordination in Europe, the first being a Franco-Italian proposal that would have required that foreign ministers met outside the EEC structures regularly. The Dutch were quick to block that proposal, preferring to keep any political union talks within the Western European Union.[1]

The West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer met with de Gaulle in July 1960 where de Gaulle presented a nine-point plan entitled "A Note on the Subject of the Organization of Europe". In this plan, de Gaulle proposed a diminished supranational influence and an end to the American-led integration.[1] It soon became apparent to the other five members of the EEC that de Gaulle was planning on creating a political union that would cut out not only American influence but British influence as well. Moreover, it would reconfigure the existing EEC institutions. The plan would call for regular summits, a parliament consisting of representatives from each of the member states' parliaments, and a national referendum.[2]

The other five were interested in a political union, but they expressed concern about the new configuration. Chancellor Adenauer reluctantly agreed to the plan, as long as provisions could be included which would keep NATO in Europe and preserve the existing EEC organs.[3] Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns was resistant to this new reorganisation, fearing that the exclusion of the United Kingdom and NATO would leave Europe vulnerable. Moreover, de Gaulle's plans would have meant a far more intergovernmental Europe, in which the majority of the power would rest with member states and not in supranational organisations. This would have meant a step backwards for European integration. Luns saw de Gaulle as an aspiring hegemon seeking to expand French influence throughout the continent. De Gaulle was clearly trying to increase French power: "Europe is the means for France to recover what it ceased to be after Waterloo: first in the world".[1]

Furthermore, the Dutch were concerned that leaving the United Kingdom out of Europe was irresponsible, but de Gaulle was vehemently opposed to the United Kingdom’s accession to the community. In his eyes, it would create a backdoor for NATO and the United States to involve themselves in Europe. Moreover, the UK would interfere with de Gaulle’s plans for "La Grande Nation": France as a superpower standing between the United States and the USSR.[2]

In October 1960, de Gaulle sent his prime minister to West Germany and was successful in getting Adenauer to agree to a heads of state meeting to take place in February 1961. Adenauer was mistrustful of de Gaulle, rightfully believing that de Gaulle was trying to create a "leading role for France in Europe" and combined with the Dutch opinion, led to the meeting being a failure for de Gaulle. It was agreed, however, that a committee should be formed to discuss possible political union".[1]

In autumn 1961, a committee was formed to address plans for a political union in Europe. The Fouchet Committee, named after Christian Fouchet, drafted a plan that would include defence among other political recourses. Any mention of NATO was conspicuously left out. While West Germany and Italy generally accepted the plan, provided that the NATO issue could be worked out, it was again the Dutch who opposed the plan. They also wanted to link any discussion on a political union with British accession to the EEC. France of course was opposed.[1]

Sensing that he had support of at least 3 member states, West Germany, Italy, and France, de Gaulle shifted tactics and he reissued the Fouchet Plan in January 1962. This plan again omitted NATO and sent a clear message that de Gaulle wanted to separate Europe from NATO. This move irritated the other members, including Italy and West Germany and strengthened the Dutch position".[1]

De Gaulle backtracked and in February 1962 went to West Germany to appeal to Adenauer. He reintroduced the omitted NATO passage to placate the Chancellor, but Adenauer did not want a Franco-German domination. De Gaulle was less timid, "Once (France and West Germany) are in agreement, their decision should be imposed".[1] Adenauer again changed his position, but the Dutch and Belgians would not tolerate de Gaulle’s plan. The issue was dropped at the April summit.