1950 – 2000

The initiative to create CERN

One of the Centre’s first initiatives was to bring together in Geneva, on 12 December 1950, representatives of nuclear research institutes from six countries and representatives of UNESCO, in application of a proposal made by the Nobel Prize in Physics, Louis de Broglie, at the Lausanne Conference. One of the resolutions adopted at the Lausanne Conference instructed the future Centre to “study the creation of an Institute of Nuclear Science oriented towards applications in everyday life”.

As soon as it was established, the Commission for Scientific Cooperation of the European Centre for Culture, chaired by Raoul Dautry, General Administrator of the French Atomic Energy Commission, set to work. The physicist Pierre Auger played an important role. The task was exemplary of the ideas of subsidiarity and functional integration by “spillover” (practised at the same time by Jean Monnet to create the European Coal and Steel Community): it was a question of noting that the various countries did not individually have the resources to develop this new source of energy following the example of the United States or the USSR. It was therefore imperative to organise and institutionalise cooperation in order to catch up and avoid a brain drain. These challenges are still present today in the field of new information and knowledge technologies.

The meeting of 12 December 1950 organised by the European Centre for Culture made it possible to identify the features of the future CERN’s mission and the criteria that should guide the choice of its future location. It also suggested that UNESCO should take charge of the first stages of implementation, in particular by bringing together the governments concerned. The following year, in 1951, UNESCO submitted a project for a nuclear research laboratory to be built in Geneva. An intergovernmental conference led to the final decision on 15 February 1952 to create the “European Council for Nuclear Research” (CERN), which initially comprised eleven States.

European cultural associations

With the composer and conductor Igor Markevitch, the Centre organised a meeting in December 1951 at which representatives of the music festivals of Bayreuth, Aix-en-Provence, Perugia, Vienna, Berlin, Lucerne, Florence, Besançon and Strasbourg were present. They created an Association based in Geneva, in the Centre’s premises, with the aim of disseminating information common to all these festivals and of generating synergies and complementarities in the programming, in order to avoid repetition and duplication. For the first time, the festivals, important tools for promoting European culture (and not without economic spin-offs), spoke with one voice to achieve, wrote the Centre in 1952, a genuine ‘European concert’.

In addition to regular meetings and an information and promotion effort materialised in a common brochure, there were, with the Centre’s help, colloquiums for reflection, such as in 1956 on “The role of festivals in the cultural life of Europe”. Renamed the “European Festivals Association” (which also made it possible to include theatre and dance), the association, which moved to Belgium in the early 2000s (first to Brussels, then to Ghent), now has 90 festivals in 31 European countries and indirectly disseminates information on approximately 300 festivals in Europe.

The Graduate Institute of European Studies in Geneva

In the early 1960s, the European Centre of Culture began the process of creating an Institute of European Studies in its premises at the Villa Moynier (Parc Mon-Repos) in Geneva. The negotiations, which involved the University, the cantonal authorities responsible for public education and the Graduate Institute of International Studies, at that time directed by the historian Jacques Freymond, were concluded in 1963, when the new Institute, the first of its kind in Switzerland, began its academic year.

The Institute was interdisciplinary, with three branches forming as many different approaches to Europe and European construction: history and culture (Prof. Denis de Rougemont); political science and European institutions (Prof. Dusan Sidjanski); economics (Prof. Henri Schwamm). Denis de Rougemont was at the time (and would be until his academic retirement in 1977) Director of both the Institute and the European Centre for Culture, which clearly shows the links between the two institutions.

In 1992, the Institute was transferred to the University and became the ‘European Institute of the University of Geneva’ until 2013, when it was replaced – still within the University of Geneva – by an ‘Institute of Global Studies’ within which there is a ‘Denis de Rougemont Pole of European Studies’.

Contribution to the development of a federal constitution

In 1953, the construction of Europe was at a turning point, since it was at that time a question of providing it with a defence community (draft EDC treaty) as well as a political union. The Centre made its contribution by bringing together a group of about twenty personalities, which was to be called the Group of Twenty. Its members included Salvador de Madariaga, Raymond Aron, the French essayist and futurist Bertrand de Jouvenel, the Rector of the College of Bruges Henri Brugmans, the French jurist Georges Vedel, the Belgian jurist and politician Fernand Dehousse, the Belgian sociologist and politician Henri Janne, the German publicist and historian of Nazism Eugen Kogon, and the organiser of the Hague Congress, the Pole Jozef Retinger, etc.The group met regularly for more than a year and periodically published the fruit of its reflections in a brochure edited by the Centre and entitled Le Courrier fédéral, six issues of which appeared between April 1953 and May 1954. The activity came to an end after the French Parliament rejected the EDC Treaty in August 1954.

Shortly afterwards, the Centre led a similar initiative, this time with a group of some twenty economists from seven countries, whose mission was to reflect on ways of integrating the European economies, in particular by creating a large market without borders. Their work was published in Paris (by Plon) in a book entitled “Demain l’Europe sans frontières? Three of the Centre’s Bulletins also bear witness to these activities: “L’Europe s’inscrit dans les faits” (1956), “Promesses du Marché commun” (1957), as well as a “question and answer” presentation of the two Treaties of Rome, EEC and Euratom (1958). In 1976, the Centre set up a think-tank, called the “Cadmos Group”, made up of fourteen people from various academic backgrounds and disciplines, in order to carry out a comprehensive review of European integration and to propose a number of guidelines for the future. The fruit of these reflections, for which Denis de Rougemont was responsible for the final drafting, was published in 1979 in Paris by Stock, under the title “Report on the state of the European Union”. In the same vein, at the beginning of the Maastricht Treaty and with a view to a future enlargement towards Central and Eastern Europe, the Centre organised in April 1994 the first “Denis de Rougemont Meetings” on the theme “Where is Europe today”, the proceedings of which it published the following year.

Europe of the regions

From the second half of the 1960s onwards, the regions were to occupy a growing place in Denis de Rougemont’s thinking and in the Centre’s activities. It was a question of redefining the approach of the European Federation to incorporate the regional fact, which was very important in particular because it brought Europe closer to the citizen and was the bearer of new forms of civic commitment. Moreover, the cross-border regions that were emerging at the same time – particularly in Basel and Geneva – provided an opportunity for concrete experiences that enabled lessons to be learned about the new relationship that was being established between Europe and the Regions.

Between 1967 and 1975, five of the Centre’s Bulletins were devoted entirely to the theme of the Europe of the Regions, i.e. the Regions directly conceived within the framework of the European Federation, two of these Bulletins being more specifically concerned with cross-border regions (a meeting organised in Strasbourg with the Council of Europe in 1972 and a colloquium with the AIEE in 1975). In 1982, the Centre organised an international colloquium on “Regional Policies in Europe”, which was published in 1985 by L.E.P. in Lausanne under the direction of Dusan Sidjanski and Charles Ricq, who was responsible for regional studies at the Centre.

Publishing and Europe

In 1958, the Centre initiated the creation of a pool of publishers called EDITEUROPA, based on a charter by which these various publishers undertook to publish, in their respective languages, works on Europe which had been identified by the Centre. In 1954, the Centre published a European Bibliography, which was updated and expanded in 1959 under the title Publishing and Europe. It is introduced by these words of Denis de Rougemont: “It is clear that Europe will not be made with books, but will it be made without them? For it was largely through them that it was defeated.

In the field of studies on the construction of Europe, the Centre initiated a pool of law and economics publishers, grouped under the name EUROLIBRI. In 1964, a new European bibliography was published, listing 2,000 titles of works on Europe. 150 of these, considered to be basic works, were the subject of detailed reviews in order to enable booksellers to more easily put together their shop windows during the European Book Weeks initiated by the Centre during the major book fairs (the initiative was launched at the Frankfurt Fair). In 1966, the Centre published a Bilan des activités culturelles au service de l’Europe, listing all the cultural initiatives aimed at Europe between 1949 and 1964.

Public Information and Media Awareness

In 1952, the Centre initiated the creation of a pool of six national news agencies (French, German, Italian, Belgian, Swiss and Luxembourg) to disseminate news and background papers on Europe. In 1956, it created European News, a press service on European issues in three languages, whose dispatches were distributed to more than a thousand subscribing newspapers and periodicals.

A Conference Service was set up in 1957 to provide lists of speakers and to organise several hundred conferences on Europe over the next two decades.

In the 1990s, the Centre launched, in partnership with the publisher Actes Sud, a series of “Que Sais-je?” on European issues, in the form of small books of about 80 pages, assembled in thematic boxes. The collection was called L’Europe en bref. Seven boxes containing a total of 27 small books were published between 1994 and 2002.

Association of European Studies Institutes

As early as 1949, the Study Group for the creation of the European Centre of Culture had taken responsibility for bringing together in Geneva representatives of the very first university institutes whose mission was to study Europe and train the future European elite. Several such meetings were held subsequently, demonstrating the need for such gatherings, and an Association of European Studies Institutes (AIEE) was created in 1951, its secretariat being provided by the European Centre of Culture. The AIEE regularly published a Yearbook reporting the activities of the various European Studies Institutes and Research Centres (courses, colloquia, conferences, research, publications, etc.), which was a valuable information tool at the time, as well as a first European bibliography (recording works on Europe) in 1954. In 1957, the role of the Geneva-based secretariat was strengthened and a new Secretary General was appointed, Dusan Sidjanski, who held this position until the end of the AIEE’s activities in the late 1980s.

At the same time, a colloquium was organised with the Association of European Scholars, which led to proposals for the creation of post-graduate institutes devoted exclusively to the study of Europe and European integration. The contributions, which were published in the Bulletin of the European Centre of Culture in 1958 under the title “Towards a European University”, gave rise to a type of reflection which led to the creation of the European University Institute of Florence in 1976.

The AIEE and the Centre collaborated on many occasions, in particular by organising joint colloquia, the contributions to which were published in the Centre’s Bulletin. Thus, a significant part of the reflection that was carried out from 1967 and 1968 on the theme of the Europe of the Regions and the European Federation was carried out with the AIEE and its capacity to mobilise a network of academics from different countries. The same was true of the studies carried out on cross-border regions and their impact on the construction of Europe (e.g. a colloquium on “Cross-border regions and Europe” in January 1975, published in the Bulletin the following year). Mention should also be made of the colloquium on regional policies in Europe in 1982, which resulted in a publication edited by Dusan Sidjanski and Charles Ricq.

The collaboration with the IEAE, as well as with the Department of Political Science of the University of Geneva headed by Professor Dusan Sidjanski, also extended to political science applied to European integration (Political Science and European Integration, 1965; Quantitative Methods and European Integration, 1970) and to the examination of the federalist proposals made within the European Community on the occasion of the Tindemans Report (“Around the Tindemans Report”, 1976, the result of an IEAE colloquium organised in Athens). Until the end of the 1980s, the AIEE published a yearbook containing a list of its publications and those of its member institutes.

The European Cultural Foundation

During 1954, the Centre initiated several meetings to draw up plans for a Foundation to finance cultural activities in the service of Europe. Thus the European Cultural Foundation was created in December 1954 in Geneva. Denis de Rougemont was appointed Director, and Raymond Silva, Secretary General. Among its founding members were Robert Schuman, father of European integration, and Henri Brugmans, Rector of the College of Europe in Bruges.

In 1957, the Foundation moved to Amsterdam where it could more easily stabilise its financial situation than in Geneva thanks to the proceeds of the national lottery. Today, it provides grants to artists, development and cultural cooperation projects and coordinates a network of study and research institutes in the fields of education, media, environment and cultural relations. It also implements programmes on behalf of the European Commission, as was the case for the Erasmus programme from 1987.

The European civic education

Denis de Rougemont was convinced that in order to build Europe, it was essential to train Europeans, authentic European citizens. However, after the Second World War, he noted that the history and civics curricula taught in schools and colleges remained mainly national, sometimes with hints of nationalism. They aimed to train national citizens, not European ones. This is why, from the 1950s onwards, the Centre developed several initiatives to counter this tendency, which was detrimental to European integration.

In 1956, pilot experiments in European education began to train teachers in European issues and the common history of Europeans. These experiments took place in many cities in Western Europe, particularly in France, Italy and Switzerland. In terms of content, they were supported by two special issues of the Bulletin of the European Centre of Culture: “Europe in the facts” (1956) which recounted the beginnings of European construction (80,000 copies, translated into seven languages), and “For a European Education” (1957) which explained the process.

In 1958, the Centre joined forces with the European Teachers’ Association to produce a European Teachers’ Guide (90,000 copies, available in four languages), followed in 1960-61 by a European Civics Guide.

In 1961, a major European Civic Education Campaign was launched which was to last until 1974. It was decided at a colloquium held in May 1961 at the Centre, during which it was noted that “civic education in almost all our countries is backward and outmoded, and that there are virtually no European perspectives on civic education”. A survey on the state of civic education in nineteen countries was carried out the following year. In the following years, European teacher training courses were gradually organised in most of these countries (in all, no less than 32 courses were organised), while the Centre opened a European Pedagogical Documentation Centre in its Geneva premises.

From 1992 to 1997, this activity was taken over by the Centre, this time in the form of Euro-workshops on European issues organised in various regions of Switzerland and with participants aged 16-18. In the early 2000s, the European Institute of the University of Geneva drew inspiration from the Euro-Workshops to launch a platform called “Eurocitée” in 2004, providing information on Europe and making extensive use of Internet resources.

Central and Eastern Europe

The Centre has always considered Europe in its broadest geographical sense. Thus, as early as November 1955, it published in its Bulletin a series of reflections and proposals on “Europe-USSR: the question of cultural exchanges”. Later, in 1983, it organised a colloquium at Duino Castle, near Trieste, on the theme of Central Europe, published the same year. In 1984, the Centre’s journal, Cadmos, published an extensive issue under the title “The Common Culture of Europeans and the East/West Debate”. In 1988, Cadmos published a premonitory issue on “Yugoslavia, Europe’s weak link”.

Immediately after the fall of the Eastern Bloc, the Centre opened, with the help of the Canton of Geneva, a Council of Europe antenna in Warsaw – the very first of this organisation in a former Eastern country – to disseminate information on local democracy in order to encourage the revival of local authorities in Poland. This initiative, which lasted from February to July 1990, was then extended to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia until 1994, with the help of the Swiss Confederation. In 1991, the Centre co-published with the European Centre for Regional and Ethnic Studies in Bydgoszcz, Poland, the book Regionalism in Europe: Traditions and New Trends (edited by Janusz Slugocki).

In November 1991, the Centre organised in Vienna, in the presence of the Austrian Vice-Chancellor Erhard Busek, a colloquium on the place of Central Europe in a reunifying Europe, as a follow-up to the initiatives that had just been launched by François Mitterrand and Vaclav Havel. The proceedings were published by the Centre in 1993 under the title Central Europe in a “European Confederation” with texts in French and German.

Survey on Intellectuals and Europe

Between 1979 and 1984, a period which corresponds to the dates of the first legislature of the European Parliament elected by universal suffrage, the Centre, with the support of the Veillon Foundation (Lausanne), carried out a survey on the way in which a certain number of intellectuals perceive Europe, its culture, the changes which are taking place, the role they would like intellectuals to play in this process, and the lessons they have learned from their own commitment. The interviews take place in their homes, in various European countries.

Among the intellectuals who responded to the survey: the playwright Eugène Ionesco, the writers Michel Tournier and Jean d’Ormesson, the poet Stephen Spender, the art critic Gillo Dorfles, the essayists Jacques Ellul and Denis de Rougemont, the philosophers Leszek Kolakowski and Georg Picht, the sociologist Edgar Morin, the historians Philippe Ariès, Jacques Freymond, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie and Hugh Trevor-Roper… The interviews were published in 1984 by Gallimard in Paris (collection Idées) under the title “Les intellectuels et l’Europe”.

Reflections on the links between culture and technology

From 1956 onwards, the Centre began to reflect on the consequences of the cybernetic ‘revolution’ and automation on the economy, employment, leisure, and the human and social balance in general. The CEC Bulletin published “Automation and Cybernetics” in 1958 and “Education and Leisure” in 1959. Later on, reflection focused on the issues of free time and employment, notably with an issue of the Centre’s journal, Cadmos, devoted to the theme of employment, unemployment and leisure in 1985, coordinated by Raymond Racine. The work continued with the creation of a multi-national group of economists and sociologists who published L’Europe au-delà du chômage in 1992 with the Presses interuniversitaires de Bruxelles.

The Dialogue of Cultures

The “Dialogue of Cultures” is a phrase coined by Denis de Rougemont that later inspired various international organisations (notably UNESCO), as well as the European Union. In 1951, during a trip to India, he was struck by the differences between East and West. This led to the publication of a book in Paris in 1957: L’aventure occidentale de l’Homme (Albin Michel). On the basis of these initial reflections, he conceived the idea – very innovative at the time – that one of the missions of Europe, which had colonised the other continents (this was in the middle of the decolonisation period), should be to contribute to a new form of organisation of the world based on understanding between the major cultural groups on the planet.

The Centre therefore organised a symposium in 1961 in Geneva on the theme of “Dialogue of Cultures”. Then in 1964 it organised a major international conference in Basel called Europe-World, which brought together nearly 150 participants in several commissions and working groups. The approach of the Centre and Denis de Rougemont was to find common ground between representatives of different cultures on the emergence of new cultural groupings after decolonisation, as well as on the notions of Man and Freedom, on the place of religion and the integration of scientific and technical discoveries in the various cultures, and finally on education and the training of elites in the different regions of the globe.

In October 1990, the Centre organised a second Europe-World Conference in Lisbon in partnership with UNESCO. In addition to interreligious dialogue, the focus was on the “governance of globality”, the environment, the media, and the new phenomenon of “cultural networks” in its contribution to a living culture.