“To create, by
establishing an economic community, the basis for a broader and deeper
community among peoples long divided by bloody conflicts; and to lay the
foundations for institutions which will give direction to a destiny
This is just part of the
preamble to the Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community,
signed in Paris in 1951. The preamble itself is worth reading in full, which is
exactly what Lord Andrew Adonis did when he gave the annual John Fitzmaurice
lecture in February this year.
While many of us do not need
reminding of reasons to continue to fight to remain part of the EU, hearing
this certainly revitalised our spirits as we approached the dreaded 29 March
Brussels Labour were pleased to
be able to welcome Lord Adonis as our speaker in this year’s John Fitzmaurice
lecture. Adonis is no stranger to Brussels. Members who have attended rallies
at Schuman may well have spotted him there.
Given the proximity to our
expected departure of the EU, this year’s theme was an obvious choice, and
Adonis spoke to us at length about the EU referendum, the forces behind it, and
A whistle-stop tour of British
history in the EU demonstrated the changing nature of the relationship between
the UK and the EU. Adonis was able to conjure up a nostalgia for a forgotten
past. This wasn’t the faux past that populists lament losing, but the late 70s
and early 80s, when Britain was not just part of the EU but a leader, on a
civilising and democratic mission, looking for opportunities not threats.
We also got a view of Adonis’
own character and politics beyond Brexit. He quoted extensively from Roy
Jenkins’ diaries with references to his time in Brussels, giving the audience a
good laugh as they recognised familiar places and events.
Looking to what might happen
next, Adonis spoke of the ‘Sherlock Holmes principle’; once all impossible
options are eliminated, we are forced to have hope. In the end, many left this
year’s John Fitzmaurice lecture with a bit more optimism about the future.
About the John Fitzmaurice
John Fitzmaurice was an
administrator, academic and writer, and a founding father of Brussels Labour.
He was an author of numerous books and articles on politics, as well as an
official at the European Commission and a lecturer at the Université Libre de
In memory of John, and his
unique contribution to democracy, socialism and Europe, Brussels Labour
established an annual lecture around these themes, inviting a leading figure
from the Left in Europe.
Neil Kinnock gave the inaugural
lecture in October 2004, and since then we have welcomed a number of
distinguished speakers from British and European politics.