Oltre il compromesso del Lussemburgo verso l'Europa Federale. Walter Hallstein e la crisi della 'sedia vuota' (1965-66)
The crisis of the 'chaise vide' (empty chair), July 1965-January 1966, represented the greatest danger of break-up for the EEC. Its fundamental cause was the collision between two opposite ideas about the process of European integration: the view of intergovernmental, confederal cooperation, as General Charles de Gaulle imagined it, against the project of a supranational and federalizing integration, professed by the then-president of the EEC-Commission Walter Hallstein. The starting-point of the crisis was the failure of the Council of Ministers in Brussels of June 28-30, 1965, that had to decide about the Commission's package for the financing of a common agricultural policy, the Community's direct budgetary revenues, the rule of the majority decision and the extension of the European Parliament's powers. As a result of the non-financing of a common agricultural policy de Gaulle ordered the withdrawal of the French delegation from the EEC. The French chair was empty for six months. De Gaulle wanted to solve once and for all the problems of the Council-Commission relations and of the majority vote. The crisis was settled by the Luxembourg agreement (January 29, 1966). As a matter of fact, this agreement restored normality in the Community, but caused a limitation of its dynamism, particularly in the Commission's proposal power and in the Council's decision-making, that was mantained until the Eighties under the implied threat of the member states' veto power. Rethinking about those weighty events can be interesting in these days of reform of the EU institutions, because the intent of the Luxembourg compromise has not been cancelled completely and lives on the spirit of present euroscepticism.
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