Europe has existed down the centuries as a myth, a geographical area, an idea, a source of identity, and much else besides. Recently it has taken more concrete shape in the form of a Union of Member States working together within a unique legal and political framework in pursuit of a common destiny. An awareness of the need to harness the political forces of Europe within some sort of framework, whether it takes the form of a treaty, founding charter or constitution, has existed for a long time. First appearing in Dante, the notion of a unified Europe has continued throughout the centuries, culminating after the Second World War with the establishment of the European Community, and subsequently the European Union. During this time thinkers from vastly different backgrounds reflected on how to bring peace and reconciliation to the continent of Europe. This collection aims to present a part of European history that is little known: the historical attempts to give concrete shape to that ambitious vision. In doing so, it shows that the objective of a Europe at peace with itself has roots which go back deep in history, and that many of the ideas put forward to achieve that objective over the years contained the seeds of the European Union as it exists today.
Europe - giving shape to an idea