EU Founding Members Ambassadors: Triumph from Adversity

The countries of the European Union have transformed what were far from promising economic and political prospects half a century ago and this transformation has a direct bearing on the efforts of the peoples of the Western Balkans to draw closer to the European Union, representatives of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands wrote in a joint editorial that appeared in newspapers today to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

The ambassadors, from the six countries that signed the Treaty of Rome, establishing what eventually became the European Union, stressed that this transformation was not passive but active in their article that was published in Dnevni avaz, Dnevni list, Nezavisne novine and Večernji list.

“Each of the founding member states experienced radical political and social change during the past 50 years; each faced enormous economic challenges, and each had to make hard choices about its status as a nation state in order to integrate more effectively and more productively,” they wrote.

“In retrospect, the success of the European Union, a community of prosperous democracies stretching from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, may appear to have been historically pre-ordained. But it was not. It was, and remains, a remarkable story of triumph being extracted – often against very long odds – from adversity,” they continued.

The ambassadors also pointed out that when the Treaty of Rome was negotiated in the mid-1950s, “Essential items in Western Europe were still subject to rationing; medical and social services were rudimentary; poverty was endemic; and citizens lived in fear that the end of the world war just over a decade earlier had been a remission in rather than a conclusion to the century’s – and the continent’s – recurring instability and conflict.”

“Those circumstances have been changed by the European Union’s confidence in and fidelity to the founding principle enshrined in the Treaty of Rome – freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people. Implicit in this principle is the essential truth that all citizens of Europe are equal under the law,” they continued.

The ambassadors reiterated the fact that: “The natural home of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its neighbours is – geographically, culturally, politically, economically and socially – within the European family.” And they stressed that “integrating in the European family cannot be undertaken passively. It must be done actively.”

 “Europe will keep faith with the four freedoms enshrined in the Treaty of Rome, and with the commitment explicitly made to the peoples of the Western Balkans at Thessalonica in 2003. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a willing partner in its efforts to join the European Union,” they continued.

“Europe will not stand passively by; it will continue actively to assist. In the near term, we look forward to the signing of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement as soon as Bosnia and Herzegovina has met the criteria. This will be a major step on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s long journey to our common European home” they concluded.

Signatories of the article were Ambassador Philippe Nieuwenhuys of Belgium, Ambassador Maryse Berniau of France, Ambassador Michael Schmunk of Germany, Ambassador Alessandro Fallavollita of Italy, Ambassador Georges Santer, Secretary General of the Luxembourg Foreign Ministry and Ambassador Karel Vosskühler of The Netherlands.

The text of the ambassadors’ editorial can be accessed at