The Decline and Fall of Rome

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It may not be quite the creation story of the U.S. no Washington crossing the icy Delaware, no gathering of great minds to write a Constitution in Philadelphia but the founding of what is now the European Union had drama of its own. There was Winston Churchill's 1946 speech in Zurich calling for a United States of Europe; the plan in 1950 by Robert Schuman, France's Foreign Minister, to pool European coal and steel the muscle of war under a multinational authority; the emotion at the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, in 1957. On the BBC TV series The Poisoned Chalice a few years ago, an aide to Belgian Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak recalled the mood: "Spaak turned to us and said: 'Do you think we have today been putting the first stone of a new Roman Empire, and this time without firing a shot?' We all felt like Romans that day."