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From resistance fighters and Holocaust survivors to politicians and even a movie star, the visionary leaders described in this section inspired the Europe that we know today.

Many of them worked to end the horrors of two world wars and to promote peace and solidarity. They were champions of the fundamental values upon which the EU is founded:

  • freedom, democracy and equality
  • respect for human dignity, human rights and the rule of law
  • solidarity and protection for all

They helped develop the systems that led to economic stability and the euro and they championed Europe’s rich cultural history and linguistic diversity. This section celebrates their contributions to modern-day Europe. Thanks to their courage and commitment, modern-day Europe is a region of peace and stability.

Alcide De Gasperi

Find out about Alcide De Gasperi, the Italian Prime Minister who mediated between Germany and France as part of post-war European integration

Altiero Spinelli

Find out about Altiero Spinelli, the Italian politician who established the Federalist Movement and supported the drafting of a European constitution

Anna Lindh

Find out about Anna Lindh, the Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister and human rights advocate who supported the process of European integration

Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand holding hands

Find out about German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President François Mitterrand, who drove post-war reconciliation between their two countries

Jean Monnet

Find out about Jean Monnet, the French politician who, together with Robert Schuman, is considered the architect of the European integration project

Johan Willem Beyen

Find out about Johan Willem Beyen, the Dutch banker, businessman and politician who drew up the plan for a European common market and customs union

Joseph Bech

Find out about Joseph Bech, the foreign minister of Luxembourg who worked on the Benelux Customs Union and supported greater European integration

Konrad Adenauer

Find out about Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor who promoted European cooperation and the creation of the Coal and Steel Community.

Louise Weiss

Find out about Louise Weiss, the French journalist and European politician who became a champion of European values and women’s rights

Marga Klompé

Find out about Marga Klompé, the Dutch politician, scientist and human rights advocate who worked to create the single market

Melina Mercouri

Find out about Melina Mercouri, a Greek actor and politician who campaigned for cultural cooperation across Europe

Nicole Fontaine

Find out about Nicole Fontaine, the French politician and European Parliament president who campaigned for youth education and a citizens’ Europe

Nilde Iotti

Find out about Nilde Iotti, the Italian stateswoman who fought for women’s rights, universal suffrage and direct European elections

Paul-Henri Spaak

Find out about Paul-Henri Spaak, the Belgian statesman who helped found the Benelux Customs Union which inspired further European integration

Robert Schuman

Find out about Robert Schuman, the politician who, together with Jean Monnet, is considered the architect of the European integration project

Sicco Mansholt

Find out about Sicco Mansholt, the Dutch farmer, resistance fighter and politician who was the inspiration behind the EU’s common agriculture policy

Simone Veil

Find out about Simone Veil, Holocaust survivor, politician and first female President of the European Parliament

Ursula Hirschmann

Find out about Ursula Hirschmann, anti-fascist and feminist activist, who created the European Federalist Movement.

Walter Hallstein

Find out about Walter Hallstein, the diplomat and first President of the European Commission who pushed to create a European Economic Community

Winston Churchill

Find out about Sir Winston Churchill, the British army officer, war reporter and prime minister who called for a United States of Europe