Yves BOUVIER et Léonard LABORIE (dir.), L’Europe en transitions. Énergie, mobilité, communication XVIIIe-XXIe siècles, Paris, Nouveau Monde, Collection « LabEx EHNE », 2016.
En plaçant la notion de «transition» dans une perspective historique, cet ouvrage offre un éclairage novateur. Les auteurs approchent en effet l’histoire européenne (suite…)
Ports became one of the tools of the expansion of European influence with the great discoveries of the 15th century, the prelude to what some historians have described as the first age of globalisation. This explains why the ports of the Atlantic coast benefited from their advantageous location, promoted by states which, from Spain to the Dutch Republic, asserted their global maritime ambitions. The control of the sea lanes linking metropoles with their colonial empires also explains the creation of powerful arsenal ports and overseas naval bases. Over the centuries, the influence of commercial ports followed the evolution of the economic and political power relations of Atlantic Europe. In the 19th century, the English ports, starting with London and Liverpool, emerged as the most powerful in Europe. However, from the 1860s onwards, at the heart of the process of globalisation resulting from the industrial revolution, the most powerful port range in the world developed between Le Havre and Hamburg.
After the decline of the real and symbolic power of the pope as a medieval sovereign and pontiff bending monarchs to his will, the Holy See nevertheless still sought an arbitrational position in Europe. Largely linked to its status as the spiritual and temporal leader of Christianity, the papacy devoted itself to defending this position against sovereigns. In decline during the early modern era, this status of arbiter was revived when the Holy See lost its role as a temporal power, and established itself as a moral mediator, thus paradoxically regaining a universal dimension even beyond Christianity.
The Europeanists of the interwar period, deeply marked by World War One and obsessively fearing decline, saw the notion of a united Europe, and French-German rapprochement in particular, as the only way of maintaining lasting peace on the continent. They formed a heterogeneous series of more or less organized movements with very diverse aims, and were joined by intellectuals and isolated militants. Although their often highly ambitious political projects hardly translated into concrete reality, the same was not true of a number of more limited and realistic economic initiatives. Confronted by the crisis, totalitarian regimes, and the spectre of a new global conflict, the 1930s saw the scattering of the Europeanist galaxy.
Since 1948, European public policy has developed in a number of economic and social areas, ranging from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and gender equality to Airbus. This great diversity has been coupled with a dominant tendency aiming to create a large and unified European market. This market-oriented position has been complemented since the 1980s by a neo-liberal approach on the one hand, and by the development of social and societal policies on the other.
Despite its primarily economic origins and its belated concern for the environmental issues, the EU became, after 1972, one of the major international actors in the protection of the environment. Recognised in treaties from 1986 onwards, environmental policy was organised around the notion of sustainable development and gave rise to a strong legislative agenda and the establishment of structures of information, financing and control on a European level. In so doing, the EU found a new form of legitimation.
The implementation of the first social policies before The Great War represents one of the highlights of European history: the consolidation of nation-states did not overshadow reflection regarding the development of a “European social model.” Despite constant hesitation during the fin de siècle between an assertion of national character and a desire for cooperation, the contours of a “reform network” surpassing national borders was outlined by way of congresses, conferences, and scientific and cultural exchange.
General de Gaulle understood Europe as a key geographical and historical construct. From the Second World War until he left power in 1969, he wanted European states to join together and cooperate closely, because he saw this is a means of increasing their power, particularly that of France. However, he was hostile to any loss of sovereignty, seeing it as a possibly prelude to subjugation by the United States.
Since its beginnings in 1948, the construction of Europe has been expressed through the central role of public policies, in the economic sector in particular, but also with respect to human rights. They have imposed themselves in the face of a nascent European public space and a poorly defined European society. Although public policies have had a central role, they nevertheless are not unequivocal. The eurozone crisis has demonstrated the great tensions associated with their implementation.