Pius XII’s Europe was one divided by Stalin’s iron curtain. He watched Soviet troops invade and subdue Hungary, ultimately writing an encyclical against it. The foundation of the EU stemmed from his profound belief in the essential cultural unity of Europe and Europeans in the “womb” of Christendom on the one hand and on the other it formed part of his grand anti-Soviet strategy.
As you will know from Brexit, the epicentre of the EU is the much hallowed “single market” - a market as “free” internally across the continent as can be, with not only all tariffs and customs removed but also all non-tariff barriers to trade through the adoption of uniform regulations. Pius speaks of this above. This is not an accident. The EU was designed as a counterweight on the continent to Russia (Soviet Union) and the Soviet Bloc, an entity designed to showcase the merits of liberal capitalism and intended (or at least hoped) one day to replace the Soviet system and unite all of Europe together.
In promoting this idea of a “European Union,” Pius was looking beyond the dysmal Europe of his day to the one he hoped would come into being in the future, by means of the process of European integration that he “inaugurated” in cooperation with his “disciples” Robert Schumann (French Foreign Minister), Alcide De Gasperi (Italian Prime Minister), Konrad Adenaeur (German Chancellor) and Jean Monnet (French Diplomat) among other political leaders of post-war Europe and all Catholics.
The Europe he envisioned and which he regarded as having already been built in germinal form between 1948-1957, was a post-Communist one characterised by a single, customs-free and tarrif-free economic market in which workers would be able to move around across borders because the nations of the continent would have ultimately ceded sovereignty to a supranational organ he prophetically named, “The European Union”.
Pius wanted European Unity to develop into a Federation, sort of like a more ambitious and subsidiary USA, with an “organ invested with supreme power” like a kind of supranational federal government. This was created by Schumann who became the first President of the “High Authority” of the European Coal and Steel Community. The High Authority was later renamed the European Commission:
The European Commission derives from one of the five key institutions created in the supranational European Community system, following the proposal of Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister, on 9 May 1950. Originating in 1951 as the High Authority in the European Coal and Steel Community, the Commission has undergone numerous changes in power and composition under various presidents, involving three Communities.
Pius was present at the birth of the EU institutions that still exist today in a far more developed form. The “single market” that we all keep talking about and which is the live issue in Brexit Britain today, started in 1957 and was the occasion for Pius’ above address - namely the 1957 Treaty of Rome that created the European Economic Community (Single Market) and is now known as “the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union”:
So, in other words, the “Europe” Pius was speaking about was not the divided Europe of the 1950s but today’s post-Cold War, post-Fall of the Berlin Wall ‘Europe’.
It is not coincidental that in 1992, 1 year after the Soviet Union collapsed, the EEC was renamed the “EU”. It was the fulfilment of Pius’ vision of a United Europe spanning both East and West and now free of Communism. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic States, Romania et al leapt almost immediately from their Soviet bondage into the EU in the 1990s.
That was what had always been hoped by Pius. He would have wept tears of joy at the Revolutions of 1989-1991 and the official commencement of his “European Union” that had been over 40 years in the making through gradual reformation of nascent institutions and pooling of sovereignty.