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Joseph Bech: how a small country can play a crucial role in European integration

The great idea of a united Europe – but recently still considered as utopian – today emerges from the realm of aspiration into the phase of practical realisation.

Joseph Bech

Life and times

Aside from preventing another devastating conflict like the Second World War, Bech also saw the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community as an opportunity for his small country to make its mark in a new Europe. He also believed, as many politicians did at the time, that close relationships and binding ties would keep Europe from tearing itself apart again.

A vision for Europe

In June 1955, Joseph Bech chaired the Messina Conference which later led to the Treaty of Rome, forming the European Economic Community, the forerunner of today’s European Union. This Conference focused on a memorandum submitted by the three Benelux countries, including Bech as Luxembourg’s representative.

Joseph Bech, speaking in Strasbourg in 1968

Publications

More about Joseph Bech’s life, work and contribution to the European project