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European Federalists: a legacy of youth empowerment and the European Youth Campaign, 1951-1958
After the Second World War, Europe lay in ruins. European Federalists aimed to rebuild Europe by uniting it. They wanted individual national governments to cede authority to a European union that could provide stimulus to economic growth and stop nationalistic rivalries from bringing war to Europe again. Ideally, they planned to create the United States of Europe with a constitution and parliament. The European Union (EU) became possible in 1993 due to the hard work and endless networking of eleven European Federalists considered “founding fathers” of the EU. Two of these men, Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, were responsible for the precursor to the EU, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1950. Extensive personal networking and back-door negotiations were needed to achieve this humble start to the European Union. My thesis argues that after the Second World War, European Federalists also worked in a cultural, on-the-ground manner to generate support among citizens for EU structures. They calculated political and social pressure from voters would force European leaders to unite. They encouraged dialogue and debate among citizens in the hopes that this education and civic mindedness would contribute to European integration. They focused on youth outreach, youth education and youth travel between European nations by creating the European Youth Campaign from 1951-1958. However, Federalist aims to unite Europe were not the only forces shaping early EU structures. Individual countries retained their nationalistic agendas and often placed these above the goal of European integration. The ultimate design of Federalist structures and Federalist youth programs reflected a compromise with nationalistic policies. This thesis puts Federalist activities in their historical framework to reveal this compromise. This thesis takes an in-depth view of the European Youth Campaign (EYC). The EYC targeted youth and cultural institutions to generate support for the EU. This youth organization demonstrated a deeper, cultural approach to fending off Soviet influence and promoting European integration. I analyze the activities and management of the EYC. This thesis argues that youth were not simple pawns in European politics. Partly due to the EYC, youth became a dynamic force in European politics and international relations. To understand the evolution of the EYC, this thesis reviews the effective strategies the EYC took from prior Federalist organizations during the interwar and resistance period. European leaders began to appreciate the need for policies aimed at youth to tackle large political and social problems. Communist youth festivals prodded the European Federalists to develop their own youth outreach. England during the Second World War and Occupied Germany were fertile ground for the networking and discussions on education reform that led to the formation of the EYC. The use of archival resources on the EYC and the focus on youth and culture in this thesis is an important contribution to European Union studies.