From the United States to a Federation of Europe: Why Unification Works - Max Fisher - International - The Atlantic
On May 16, 1949, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman traveled to Strasburg, a canal-laced city along the West German border, and proposed that Europe could achieve peace through economic integration. His plan was simple but audacious: France and West Germany would integrate their steel and coal production, ceding national control over these two industries to a supra-national governing body and to the demands of a "common market." The plan would make mechanized war between the two nations nearly impossible. If one declared war on the other, the integrated French-German steel and coal industries would collapse, leaving two of the world's strongest militaries to throw rocks at one another once their initial armaments ran out.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech at her party's annual gathering this week, declared that Germany -- and Europe -- must address the problems in the economic union by creating a political union. The European financial crisis is threatening to snowball from small, periphery states such as Greece and Ireland to the world's eighth largest economy, Italy, and possibly even the fifth largest, France. Even if Europe can save Italy, and even if France does not fall into similar crisis, the European Union's awful year has exposed some real flaws in the monetary union.