Pierre Werner et l’Europe : pensée, action, enseignements – Pierre Werner and Europe: His Approach, Action and Legacy

de Elena Danescu (Éditeur de volume) Susana Muñoz (Éditeur de volume)
©2015 Comptes-rendus de conférences 426 Pages


Le centenaire de la naissance de Pierre Werner (1913–2013) a offert une occasion privilégiée d’évoquer la personnalité et l’œuvre de cet homme d’État luxembourgeois qui a marqué de son empreinte le devenir contemporain du Grand-Duché et l’intégration européenne. Réunis lors d’un colloque international qui s’est déroulé les 27 et 28 novembre 2013 à Luxembourg, une trentaine de chercheurs et d’experts réputés d’horizons différents (historiens, économistes, juristes, politologues), ainsi que des grands acteurs de la pensée économique et monétaire ont analysé la vision européenne de Pierre Werner et ont mis en lumière, dans une perspective internationale, l’actualité de ses réflexions face aux défis du XXIe siècle. Sur le plan méthodologique, plusieurs contributions puisent leur originalité dans l’exploitation scientifique des archives familiales Werner. Par le message et les enseignements qu’il délivre, cet ouvrage a pour ambition de contribuer à approfondir l’étude interdisciplinaire de l’Union économique et monétaire sur le long terme et invite les lecteurs à découvrir davantage le projet d’intégration européenne à travers la vision et l’action de l’un de ses promoteurs, Pierre Werner.
The centenary of the birth of Pierre Werner (1913–2013) offered a timely opportunity to reflect on the personality and achievements of this politician from Luxembourg who left his mark on the future of his country and on the European integration process. On 27 and 28 November 2013, some 30 renowned experts and researchers including historians, economists, legal experts and political scientists, together with major players in economic and monetary affairs, assembled in Luxembourg for a conference during which they analysed Pierre Werner’s European vision and offered an international perspective on the relevance of his approach in light of the challenges facing us in the 21st century. Several of the papers provided new insights based on the authors’ exploration of the Werner family archives. The aim of these proceedings is to offer a series of observations and conclusions that encourage further interdisciplinary analysis of Economic and Monetary Union from a long-term perspective and invite readers to find out more about the European integration process through the vision and actions of one of its instigators, Pierre Werner.

Table des matières

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table des matières / Table of Contents
  • Préface / Foreword
  • Mastering Small-State Diplomacy. Pierre Werner in the History of European Monetary Union
  • The Future of Economic and Monetary Union in the Light of Pierre Werner’s Legacy
  • Avant-propos
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Introduction
  • Keynotes
  • Der Werner-Bericht als Wegweiser für die Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion
  • The Werner Report as a Route Map to Economic and Monetary Union
  • Comment compléter l’UEM dans l’esprit de Pierre Werner ?
  • How Can We Complete EMU in the Spirit of Pierre Werner?
  • Partie I. Pierre Werner, Une Vie Pour L’idéal Européen / Part I. Pierre Werner, a Life Dedicated to The European Ideal
  • The New Economic and Monetary Order in the Aftermath of the Second World War
  • Pierre Werner : l’homme et son œuvre
  • On the Inequality of States. Dutch Perceptions of Pierre Werner and Luxembourg European Policy, 1959-1984
  • Pierre Werner: A Great Man of Vision with a Sense of Mission
  • L’apport du numérique aux sciences historiques. Exemple d’une analyse computationnelle des archives Werner
  • Partie II. Le Rapport Werner –idées, Démarches et Enjeux D’une Europe Par la Monnaie / Part II. The Werner Report – Ideas, Initiatives and Challenges For a Europe Built Through Currency
  • The Werner Committee in the Dynamics of the European Integration Process After the December 1969 Hague Summit
  • Une relecture du plan Werner par rapport à ses antécédents et à ses successeurs
  • L’Allemagne fédérale et le « plan Werner »
  • The Dutch “Contribution” to the Werner Plan
  • Le rapport Werner et les milieux industriels italiens
  • Le plan Werner, un enjeu dans la négociation pour l’adhésion du Royaume-Uni à la Communauté économique européenne ?
  • Partie III. Du Rapport Werner au Rapport Delors : L’Union Économique et Monétaire en Marche / Part III. From The Werner Report to The Delors Report: Progress Towards Economic and Monetary Union
  • From the Werner Report to the Delors Report
  • Georges Pompidou et les questions monétaires européennes
  • The Werner Plan and the Delors Report:One or Two Approaches to EMU?
  • Partie IV. Défis et Perspectives de L’Union Économique et Monétaire / Part IV. Challenges and Prospects for Economic and Monetary Union
  • Challenges and Prospects for EMU
  • The Werner Plan After the Euro
  • Is Germany the Main Beneficiary of the Euro?
  • EMU at the Crossroads: Quo Vadis?
  • Banking Union as the Crowning of EMU
  • Activité et contrôle des établissements de crédit dans l’Union européenne. Du rapport Werner à l’Union bancaire
  • Conclusion. Pierre Werner et l’Europe : pensée, action, enseignements
  • Conclusion. Pierre Werner and Europe: His Approach, Action and Legacy
  • Financial Services in a Changing World
  • La Fondation Pierre Werner : quelques considérations
  • Personalia
  • Biographical Notes
  • Le colloque en images/The Conference in Pictures
  • Le CVCE/The CVCE

← 18 | 19 →Mastering Small-State Diplomacy

Pierre Werner in the History of European Monetary Union

Kenneth DYSON1

Research Professor in the School of Law and Politics
at Cardiff University
Fellow of the British Academy

The history of European monetary union has two main characteristics. It highlights the extent to which the process was pre-eminently politically driven and managed2 It was rooted in the historical lesson-drawing, intellectual convictions, and not least the emotional engagement of a set of post-war European politicians. They shared a common passion for remaking Europe on a basis that would offer sustainable peace and prosperity to their citizens. For them it was about history-making. European monetary union was an unashamedly elitist project but one that could draw on widespread permissive political consensus. In addition, the history of European monetary union has been primarily a narrative about large-state diplomacy, about the domestic settings of Britain, France, Germany and Italy, about their relations with each other, and about how the European Commission fitted into this context3 The questions for those who work in the history of European monetary integration are where precisely Pierre Werner fits into this story and, not least, what lessons we can draw from his career. He remains undoubtedly an important representative figure in this historically significant post-war European elite. But as a representative of the smallest Member State in the European Economic Community (EEC), in what way could he be said to be significant in the process of European monetary union? This question touches on the arts of ← 19 | 20 →small-state diplomacy and the lessons to be drawn from Werner’s mastery of these arts

Students of economics and international relations might be forgiven for wondering whether Werner can be considered a historically significant figure from whom any worthwhile lessons can be drawn. After all, the economics student might point out that, unlike some of his contemporaries, he was not a professional economist who would be listened to, and deferred to, as an expert on Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). On this basis, Professor Karl Schiller, German Federal Economics Minister from 1966 to 1972, carried greater weight. So did the former French economics professor Raymond Barre, the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs in the European Commission. Moreover, the international relations student would point to the relationship of size to power. Luxembourg was tiny in relation to the population and the GDP sizes of France and Germany. The Franco-German “motor” was regarded as the essential geo-political underpinning of the European integration process. The issue of power asymmetry seemed even bigger when one considered how since the early 1950s Germany had emerged as the big creditor state in Europe. Any progress with European monetary integration had to rest on having Germany on board. Without German participation a European monetary arrangement would lack the decisive ingredient of credibility.4 Against this economic and structural background the scope for Werner to have influence on European monetary integration seems highly constrained

Pierre Werner’s career exemplifies how the constraints of small-state power can be mitigated in ways that open up opportunities to influence both the processes and the outcomes of negotiations about European monetary integration and union. His significance is evident in how he was able to differentiate himself from his contemporary Belgian and Dutch heads of government in gaining a key role in the process that led to the “Werner Report” of 1970. Werner proved a master of small-state diplomacy. Mastery of this type of diplomacy does not rest in seeking to displace the power of large states like France and Germany. Their power is inherent in their sheer economic and financial size. Crucially, a threat by Luxembourg to withdraw from a negotiation about European monetary integration would have no credibility as a source of leverage.

Mastery of small-state diplomacy starts with a recognition of the realities of European power. For the key structural realities were not just the superior material resources of power that France and Germany possessed. ← 20 | 21 →They were the increasingly dense institutional and policy context of the EEC by the late 1960s; the geo-political position of Luxembourg at the centre of the then EEC; and the intellectual convictions and emotional engagements of a deeply scarred post-war generation. They ruled out one theoretically possible role of small-state diplomacy for Luxembourg: that of “rogue” state, acting to oppose and subvert what larger states were trying to do in Europe. These same factors made difficult and relatively unattractive a second possible role of small-state diplomacy in monetary integration: that of Luxembourg as the “lone-rider” state, seeking to free ride on the European system. Free-riding would invite potentially punitive retaliatory action by large states. Neither Werner nor his predecessors like Joseph Bech nor his contemporaries in Belgium and the Netherlands seriously envisaged these two options with respect to monetary integration. Werner was alert to the possibilities of free-riding in building Luxembourg as a European financial centre. Protecting Luxembourg’s financial interests was never far beneath the surface in thinking about EU policy. However, with respect to European monetary integration, Werner was left with a choice between two credible options: being a passive team player or being an active team player. In embracing the role of active team player Werner was aligning himself not just with past strategic choices of Luxembourg’s political leaders but also those of Belgian and Dutch political leaders. 5 Mastery of small-state diplomacy was about “punching above one’s weight” in EEC policy-making, above all through accumulating expertise in managing the process of European integration.

Pierre Werner’s engagement with European monetary integration and union was in many ways a masterclass in the arts of small-state diplomacy and, more specifically, in being an active team player. He brought to the process two key attributes that helped augment his capacity for influence. The first was the fit between his personal engagement in this policy field and the strategic interests of Luxembourg in developing its presence as a European financial centre. Werner had both experience and a wealth of contacts within banking on which he could draw for technical advice. The missing dimension in Luxembourg was a national central bank. However, given the economic union with Belgium in 1921 and the subsequent intertwining of the Belgian and Luxembourg financial systems, Werner could build on the special relationship with the National Bank of Belgium. It was a strategic advantage that the Governor of the National Bank of Belgium, Hubert Ansiaux, was chair of the EEC Committee of Central ← 21 | 22 →Bank Governors at the time of the Werner Committee in 1970. He was a key interlocutor of Werner, above all during the period of the Werner Committee, linking Werner to the “monetarist” camp in designing EMU. A consistent theme in Werner’s engagement with EMU was his support for the proposal of the Belgian economist Robert Triffin for a European reserve fund, pooling EEC central bank reserves.

The second attribute that Werner brought to his engagement with European monetary integration and union was his longevity in office, both as Luxembourg Finance Minister and as Prime Minister. In consequence, he had gained a familiarity with how the EEC worked and with whom to talk, not least in and around the European Commission. Werner was also close to Jean Monnet and the network of contacts that his Action Committee for the United States of Europe possessed, above all within the French and German political establishments and governments. At difficult times during the Werner Committee he was to seek to use Monnet and his staff to try to unblock opposition, especially in Germany and the Netherlands. His earliest public engagement with European monetary integration went back to a lecture in 1960 when he had used the Benelux Union of 1948 as a model and looked forward to the progressive use of a European unit of account.

Werner could not match the credibility of Barre or Schiller as an economic expert, let alone that of the French and German members of the Werner Committee, Bernard Clappier and Johannes Schöllhorn. However, he could draw on two key resources of power. Werner could make use of an extraordinarily detailed knowledge of the negotiating positions in such states as Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Gaining this detailed knowledge in an EEC of six Member States was a very different matter from trying to do so in an EC of 12 Member States in 1988-91 when EMU was finally negotiated into binding treaty form. In this sense it was relatively easier for Werner than it was to be for one of his successors as Luxembourg Finance Minister and Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker. As President of the Euro Group, Juncker had to deal with an even larger number of Member States. At the same time, mastering the arts of small-state diplomacy is not simply a matter of depth of knowledge of negotiating positions. An increase in the number of Member States favours those who are able to manoeuvre skilfully in complicated situations. Juncker was to prove adept in skilful manoeuvring.

Secondly, Werner – like Juncker later – could draw on his long experience of how the EEC processes worked, alongside his carefully cultivated and extensive personal networks. They provided him with the knowledge of how to use the institutional channels of the EEC to strengthen his ← 22 | 23 →influence. 6 Werner had been at the heart of a set of key EEC deals, notably the recognition of Luxembourg as one of the seats of EEC institutions in 1965 and the so-called Luxembourg Compromise of 1966, which ended the French “empty chair” policy and unblocked EEC policy-making. He was a trusted broker of deals.

The efficient secret of Werner’s small-state diplomacy was “borrowing power from external sources”. 7 The EEC provided him with a very favourable context for strategies that served this purpose. Werner recognised that the design of the EEC, especially the role of the European Commission, made it easier to build alliances and to gain a “first-mover” advantage in aligning Luxembourg with progress in European monetary integration and union. By January 1968 he was positioning himself behind the idea of developing Community mutual assistance, both externally and internally, through the creation of a European Fund for Monetary Cooperation (EFMC). Equally, Werner stressed the need to move cautiously, arguing for an organic development in the use of the European unit of account. No less revealing was the importance that he attached to the full completion of a European capital market and to a more developed coordination of EEC monetary policies to facilitate this development. Luxembourg’s economic interests were not far beneath the surface in his staking out a leadership role in thinking about European monetary integration. In 1970 Luxembourg was to be in a position to submit one of just three national plans to the Werner Committee. 8 Again the EFMC appeared, but only during the fifth stage of EMU.

Werner’s mastery of the arts of small-state diplomacy rested on four pillars, each of which contributed to a general recognition that he was an active team player. They had in part been forged in the context of the domestic politics of Luxembourg and the workings of the Benelux Union. However, they had also been further developed in his role in EEC crisis management in the 1960s, above all in the Luxembourg Compromise. Crucially, Werner was recognised as an active team player by both creditor and debtor EEC Member States, by those who believed that economic ← 23 | 24 →convergence must precede European monetary integration (the “economists”) as well as by those who believed that progressive monetary integration would drive economic convergence (the “monetarists”). This general recognition was exemplified in the process leading to his appointment as chair of the Werner Committee. His appointment was advocated by both Raymond Barre and Baron Jean-Charles Snoy, Belgian chair of the EEC Economic and Financial Council (ECOFIN). However, it was the German Federal Economics Minister Karl Schiller who made the formal proposal in ECOFIN.

The first element in Werner’s small-state diplomacy was his skills in managing the negotiating process in and around the Werner Committee, above all in managing its context. 9 The key was his great patience in creating an atmosphere that was conducive to the search for an agreement that would enable progress to be made on terms that would not leave any one Member State a loser. 10 Here Werner was challenged both economically and politically. Economically, he faced the division between the “monetarists”, who looked for some progress towards a European reserve fund, and the “economists”, above all the Dutch and Germans, who took up often tough-minded postures. Politically, he had to manoeuvre between French Gaullist reluctance to cede sovereign powers and German insistence that sovereign powers be shared with, or delegated to, ECOFIN, above all in economic and fiscal policies, and that the European Parliament have a strengthened role. His achievement was to surmount these challenges in the work of the Committee by sponsoring the principle of “effective parallelism” in constructing the economic and monetary pillars of EMU. However, this agreement quickly foundered, principally on Gaullist objections.

The second and related element in Werner’s small-state diplomacy was to forge common interest with the two major creditor states, the Netherlands and above all Germany. Their agreement was essential for the credibility of the final report. Once the details of a draft interim report were finalised by May 1970, Werner sought to mobilise Jean Monnet’s Action Committee to engage Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt behind the proposal for a European reserve fund, a proposal which Brandt had endorsed at the Hague Summit in December 1969. Although this proposal made no headway in Bonn, Brandt did put his weight behind the ← 24 | 25 →broader foreign- and security-policy case for the German Government to ensure agreement in the Werner Committee. However, the details were left to the Federal Economics Ministry, which – with the support of the Bundesbank – blocked the European reserve fund proposal.

The third element in Werner’s small-state diplomacy was his use of external, third-party bodies and respected economists and bankers to provide him with intellectual support. In the 1960s and during the work of the Werner Committee he drew on the influential Belgian banker and economist Fernand Collin for advice on matters like the European unit of account. Werner also relied on Ansiaux to draw the EEC Committee of Central Bank Governors into a circle of support for the work and the conclusions of his committee. The lesson about the importance of “binding” the central bank governors into the design of EMU was not lost on Jacques Delors when in 1988 he was thinking about his own committee. Werner also consulted directly with the Dutch, German and Italian central bank governors, gaining from the first two the clear message that a Community pooling of reserves was not a practical short-term option. In addition, Werner also sought to align the work of the committee with thinking in the European Commission. The Commission memorandum of March 1970 was helpful to him in taking a middle position on the need for compatible development and for interaction between the economic and monetary aspects of EMU. Also, the Ansiaux Report of August 1970, following discussions in the EEC Committee of Central Bank Governors, and the Commission memorandum were consistent in stressing that a progressive reduction in intra-EEC margins of exchange-rate fluctuation was the indispensable first step in European monetary integration. This third-party intellectual support was vital for Werner in the process of carefully narrowing the scope for agreement.

Finally, and far from least, both the formal legal commitments and the language of the architects of the Treaty of Rome of 1957 provided Werner with the capacity to appeal to independent standards of legitimacy for European monetary integration. There was no explicit treaty provision for EMU. Nevertheless, EEC Treaty provisions on treating exchange rates (Article 107) and counter-cyclical policies (Article 103) as matters of common concern, as well as on mutual assistance for Member States in balance of payments difficulties (Article 108), offered a basis for stressing the shared moral principle of solidarity in economic and monetary policies. By framing specific proposals in these terms, Werner could stake out a role as moral sensor, standing outside the contentions of national interest politics.

How then is one to assess the role of Pierre Werner in the history of European monetary integration? At one level, his long-term significance ← 25 | 26 →needs to be qualified in two senses. Like all his contemporaries in the Werner Committee, he was a man of his times. The year 1970 was in the twilight period of the Keynesian economic ascendancy, just before the collapse of the Bretton Woods exchange-rate system, the oil crises and the “stagflation” of the 1970s, and the rise of the “monetarist” economic paradigm. From the perspective of 2014, and the world of the protracted euro area financial and economic crisis, the Delors Report of 1989 also looks to be the child of another past time. Like Delors later, Werner negotiated within the intellectual constraints of his day. The Werner Report’s lack of focus on fiscal discipline and central bank independence were widely criticised by the 1980s. However, the formulation of the role of the European central bank and the lack of attention to banking and financial markets in the Delors Report also seem dated in the light of the later financial and economic crisis.

In addition, mastery of small-state diplomacy, above all in managing the processes of negotiation of EMU, faces the formidable constraint of the superior material resources of large Member States in population and in GDP size. This constraint is most potent in the case of the largest creditor state, Germany. As Werner recognised, Germany had a negotiating leverage denied to any other Member State. German views on the substance of EMU were always likely to prevail. Within the Benelux context they had the strong support of the Dutch Government. If Werner was to facilitate agreement, he had to keep closely informed about, and stay close to, German positions. In so doing he ran the risk that his report would founder from Gaullist opposition in France, a fate that soon came to pass.

Despite these two qualifications, there can be no doubt that Werner ensured that Luxembourg punched way above its weight in the EMU process. His mastery of the arts of small-state diplomacy within the context of European integration is perhaps his most lasting legacy. If Werner was not the original creative artist, he was certainly a superlative craftsman. It was a craft that was to be passed on to successors like Jacques Santer and Jean-Claude Juncker.

Cardiff, 7 October 2014


1 My thanks to Ivo Maes, National Bank of Belgium, for his helpful comments on the first draft of this text.

2 Dyson, K. & Featherstone, K., The Road to Maastricht: Negotiating Economic and Monetary Union, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999.

3 Ibid.

4 Dyson, K., States, Debt, and Power: “Saints” and “Sinners” in European History and Integration, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

5 Maes, I. & Verdun, A., “Small States and the Creation of EMU: Belgium and the Netherlands, Pace-Setters and Gate-Keepers”, Journal of Common Market Studies, 2005, 43, 2: 327-48.

6 See: Beach, D., The Dynamics of European Integration. Why and When European Institutions Matter, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005; Naurin, D., “Most Common When Least Important: Deliberation in the European Council of Ministers”, British Journal of Political Science, 2009, 40: 31-50; Tallberg, J., “Bargaining Power in the European Council”, Journal of Common Market Studies, 2008, 46, 3: 685-708.

7 Betzold, C., “‘Borrowing’ Power to Influence International Negotiations: AOSIS in the Climate Change Regime, 1990-1997”, Politics, 2010, 30, 3: 131-48.

8 Dyson, K. & Quaglia, L., European Economic Governance and Policies, Volume 1: Commentary on Key Historical and Institutional Documents, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 193-201.

9 See: Pfetsch, F. & Landau, A., “Symmetry and Asymmetry in International Nego­tiations”, International Negotiations, 2000, 5, 1: 21-42; Zartmann, I. & Rubin, J. (eds.), Power and Negotiation, Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 2000.

10 Werner, P., Itinéraires luxembourgeois et européens. Évolutions et souvenirs 1945-1985, Luxembourg, Saint-Paul, 1992, Volume 2, p. 79.

← 26 | 27 →The Future of Economic and Monetary Union in the Light of Pierre Werner’s Legacy

Jean-Claude TRICHET

President of the European Central Bank (2003-2011)

Résumé des informations

ISBN (Broché)
Date de parution
2015 (Octobre)
Mots clés
L'ouvre européenne l'Union économique et monétaire UE
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 426 p., 20 graph., 3 tabl.

Notes biographiques

Elena Danescu (Éditeur de volume) Susana Muñoz (Éditeur de volume)

Elena Danescu, holder of a PhD in Economics, is a researcher in European integration at the CVCE and project manager of the «Pierre Werner and Europe» research project, based on the previously unexplored Werner family archives. Susana Muñoz, holder of a PhD in Law, is a member of the Management Committee and Head of European Integration Studies at the CVCE. She chairs the steering committee for the «Pierre Werner and Europe» research project.


Titre: Pierre Werner et l’Europe : pensée, action, enseignements – Pierre Werner and Europe: His Approach, Action and Legacy