Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister who rallied a nation under bombardment, was committed to the idea of European integration and was one of the first to call for a ‘United States of Europe’.
Life and times
When you think about Winston Churchill, the first image that might come to mind is an imposing figure giving a victory sign while puffing on a cigar. This popular representation is but one aspect of the former army officer, war reporter and British Prime Minister. Churchill was one of many leaders whose experiences of war convinced him that only a united Europe could guarantee peace.
A vision for Europe
In his address to the University of Zurich in 1946, Churchill urged Europeans to turn their backs on the horrors of the past and look to the future. He declared that Europe could not afford to continue in an atmosphere of hatred and revenge springing from the injuries of the past. For Churchill, the first step in recreating the ‘European family’ of justice, mercy and freedom was ‘to build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living’.
Winston Churchill speaking on 19 September 1946 in Zurich
…we must re-create the European family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe, and the first practical step will be to form a Council of Europe. If at first all the States of Europe are not willing or able to join the union we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and those who can.
More about Winston Churchill’s life, work and contribution to the European project