70th Anniversary The Congress of Europe, Knight's Hall The Hague  
Wars brought Europe collapse and almost entire destruction, not only for people and equipment, but also in terms of geopolitics and technical and scientific fields. After WW-II, The Hague Congress provided the opportunity to discuss ideas about the development of European political co-operation. The Hague Congress was held in the Congress of Europe in The Hague from 7th to 11th of May 1948 with 750 delegates participating from around Europe as well as observers from Canada and the United States.

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Organised by the International Committee of the Movements for European Unity and presided over by Winston Churchill, the Congress brought together representatives from across a broad political spectrum, providing them with the opportunity to discuss ideas about the development of European Union. Important political figures such as Konrad Adenauer, Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, François Mitterrand, Paul-Henry Spaak, Albert Coppé and Altiero Spinelli took an active role in the congress and a call was launched for a political, economic and monetary Union of Europe. This landmark conference was to have a profound influence on the shape of the European Movement, which was created soon afterwards. The Spanish statesman Salvador de Madariaga proposed the establishment of a College of Europe at the Congress. This would be a college where university graduates from many different countries, some only a short while before at war with each other, could study and live together. The Congress also discussed the future structure and role of the Council of Europe. See Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance de l'Europe (CVCE)


The Congress is commemorated every 10 years

The commemorations of the Congress of The Hague every ten year have in themselves become an important tradition. These ten-yearly anniversary festivals or the grand events in 2008 drew a lot of attention from around the continent. Every ten years, these gatherings also constitute an important moment for assessing the ‘temperature’ in Europe. The festival was an occasion to put the spotlight on the vital importance of European civic input in the development of the EU.

May 26, 2018, the Sharing Europe – Congress of The Hague 2018. For over 2 days, around 550 delegates from 20 European countries and beyond: thinkers, doers, officials and activists, old and young Europeans met in The Hague for a collective exploration of our common ground in addressing the current major transformations more constructively together and imagining the future of our continent, and the world.

The immediate occasion was of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the famous Congress of The Hague of 1948, where European of that era met in the same city, The Hague, to discuss how to rebuild Europe after two devastating world wars. Times have changed tremendously, but then again, they also have not. For human core needs and anxieties change only very slowly. Few people like hunger, warfare, being isolated, being destitute, being marginalized. Few people like to be dehumanized. Most people do wish some place in the sun.

So while economic conditions have shifted considerably and climate pressures, sustainability issues and challenges in social relations are rapidly mounting, basic human needs do not shift so drastically. Sharing Europe tried to foreground the vitality of many current citizens' initiatives, dealing with our times. Looking at all the contributors reflected that Europe as soft force, as transformational and as a beacon of hope is still possible.

So it was for good reasons that during our meetings, the 'Agora' concept was revived. Agoras are places where people meet, dialogue, debate, negotiate, trade, take time for each, do politics, and take a coffee or a wine together. Europe has long been full of those places where people can really meet and take time to reflect, meet and laugh. We do need to cherish those public spaces, for they are the places where democracy can take shape.

Both in the congress part of the event on Thursday May 24, and in the special Ridderzaal ceremony on Friday and the open Plein (Parliament Square) lunch, the spotlight was firmly on dialoguing, debating, taking time for the great transitions of our days and for each other. And in the many encounters that followed of a wide variety of people who wish to contribute to better futures for all in Europe, the seeds of change became very clear. Concrete, tangible, in civic networks, in new connections, in new inspirations. This Europe is already in the making. It is ongoing, despite all the challenges and set backs.

Many speakers called for capturing this new foundational moment for Europe Not in a bubble, but very rooted, in concrete alternatives for current policies that may be too extractive of exclusionary. We were therefore very happy to have political representatives with us as well. Europarliamentarians Eva Maydell (also President of the European Movement), Paul Tang, Brando Benifei and Jo Leinen.

We were honoured with the presence of Joris Backer, vice-chair of the Dutch Senate, which hosted our Ridderzaal ceremony, prof. Piet Hein Donner, vice-president of the Dutch Council of State and deputy Mayor of The Hague, Tom de Bruijn. And of course we felt extremely honoured and pleased by the presence of the Dutch deputy prime Minister, mrs. Kajsa Ollongren, who delivered the keynote VIP speech in the Ridderzaal on behalf of the Dutch government.

So the 70th anniversary of the first Congress of The Hague, this 2018 edition Sharing Europe will be a very memorable one. We are at crossroads in Europe. Old values: of equity, inclusion, freedom, solidarity, have not lost their pertinence. But institutional forms, relations and modus operandi will have to change. Many participants called for 'daring to be ambitous'. Listening carefully to much of what was being exchanged, 'daring to be ambitious' in our time and age also means daring to be more open, more generous, more genuinely curious to differences, embracing diversity, being kind, civil, and being more humble, creating new spaces in the sun, and being rooted and related, to the real lives of real people.

The Congress of The Hague 2018 highlighted that such a more constructive Europe is possible and willed by many citizens. In fact, it is everywhere in the making. A new foundational moment for Europe: it is possible.

In 2008 it was 60 years ago the gathering was held. In honour of that, the below mentioned message to Europeans was pledged. Let all therefore take note that we Europeans, assembled to express the will of all the peoples of Europe, solemnly declare our common aims in the following five articles, which summarise the resolutions adopted by the Congress:


(1) We desire a United Europe, throughout whose area the free movement of persons, ideas and goods is restored;
(2) We desire a Charter of Human Rights guaranteeing liberty of thought, assembly and expression as well as the right to form a political opposition;
(3) We desire a Court of Justice with adequate sanctions for the implementation of this Charter;
(4) We desire a European Assembly where the live forces of all our nations shall be represented;
(5) And pledge ourselves in our homes and in public, in our political and religious life, in our professional and trade union circles, to give our fullest support to all persons and governments working for this lofty cause, which offers the last chance of peace and the one promise of a great future for this generation and those that will succeed it."

Europe is threatened, Europe is divided, and the greatest danger comes from her divisions. Impoverished, overladen with barriers that prevent the circulation of her goods but are no longer able to afford her protection, our disunited Europe marches towards her end. Alone, no one of our countries can hope seriously to defend its independence. Alone, no one of our countries can solve the economic problems of today. Without a freely agreed union our present anarchy will expose us tomorrow to forcible unification whether by the intervention of a foreign empire or usurpation by a political party.

The hour has come to take action commensurate with the danger. Together with the overseas peoples associated with our destinies, we can tomorrow build the greatest political formation and the greatest economic unit our age has seen. Never will the history of the world have known so powerful a gathering of free men. Never will war, fear and misery have been checked by a more formidable foe. Between this great peril and this great hope, Europe’s mission is clear. It is to unite her peoples in accordance with their genius of diversity and with the conditions of modern community life, and so open the way towards organised freedom for which the world is seeking. It is to revive her inventive powers for the greater protection and respect of the rights and duties of the individual of which, in spite of all her mistakes, Europe is still the greatest exponent. Human dignity is Europe’s finest achievement, freedom her true strength. Both are at stake in our struggle. The union of our continent is now needed not only for the salvation of the liberties we have won, but also for the extension of their benefits to all mankind.
Upon this union depend Europe’s destiny and the world’s peace.
A video stockshots entitled "The Hague Congress: 50th Anniversary" on the occasion of the commemorations in The Hague, from 8 to 10 May 1998, of the 50th anniversary of the Congress.

Let's build Europe
of the XXIst Century

Area of Solidarity and Freedom
The Hague, 8, 9 and 10 May 1998

This bank video shows the following topics:

  1. The Hague Congress (7/5/48) Extracts of the speech of Winston Churchil
  2. Situation of post-war period
  3. The European Movement1949: 2nd Congress of The Hague 1968: 20th anniversary of the Congress of The Hague
  4. Mario Soarès's Statement, President of the European Movement


archives European University Institute


by National Archives and Records Administration

outcome of principles of ethnic nationalism,
spheres of influence and imperialism