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Paul-Henri Spaak: a European visionary and talented persuader

As for myself, I am a staunch advocate of economic cooperation.

Paul-Henri Spaak

Life and times

While in exile in London during the war, he formulated plans with his colleagues from the Netherlands and Luxembourg on a new and highly ambitious project: a customs union between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

In 1944, the plan came to fruition and the Benelux was born. Within the borders of the three countries, free movement of money, people, services and goods would be guaranteed. It would serve as an inspiration for further European integration.

A vision for Europe

For Spaak, uniting countries through binding treaty obligations was the most effective means of guaranteeing peace and stability. He helped achieve these aims as president of the first full meeting of the United Nations (1946) and as Secretary General of NATO (1957-61). Spaak was a leading figure in formulating the content of the Treaty of Rome. At the Messina Conference in 1955, the six participating governments appointed him president of the working committee that prepared the Treaty.

Paul-Henri Spaak, speaking in Strasbourg on 11 December 1951


More about Paul-Henri Spaak’s life, work and contribution to the European project