Without WWI, could something similar to the EU have been created?

May 2015
1,009
The Netherlands
#32
Without World War I (and without World War II as well), could something similar to the European Union have still eventually been created?

As for my own thoughts on this, I am skeptical--at least in regards to the short-term and medium-term. I will now explain why:

-Germany's pre-WWI leadership was concerned about the demographic balance between Protestants and Catholics in the German Empire--with it waging a political war against German Catholics in the form of the Kulturkampf in the late 19th century. This is also why Germany's pre-WWI leadership was hesitant to annex German Austria in the event that Austria-Hungary would have collapsed and broken up. Since an EU-style union would be largely composed of Catholic countries unless Russia joined (which it probably won't due to its extremely massive size and thus the fear of Russian domination by other European countries), I suspect that Germany's pre-WWI leadership would have been very wary to support such a union--at least on terms which would have given Catholics in this union a majority of the political power.

-France was allied to Russia and was extremely hostile towards Germany. Allowing such a Russian Trojan Horse into an EU-style union with Germany might be rather problematic since Russia could try using France to undermine this union.

-The German working-class might be concerned that immigrants from other European countries are going to take their jobs if they will move to Germany. The German population was rapidly growing in the pre-WWI years and thus I don't know whether the German population would have wanted to deal with the risk of increased competition from foreign workers.

Anyway, what exactly am I missing here? Also, what are your own thoughts on this?
Yes and no. Before the First World War ideas were floating around in leading German circles to create a large customs union that centred on Germany, France and Austria-Hungary. Eventually this could be expanded to include most of continental Europe (the British Empire and Russia would be excluded). However, it was quite apparent that French (and to a lesser extent Hungarian) opposition would render this impossible and I don't think it ever materialized into a concrete policy or proposal. Also, the Prussians would have never allowed it to evolve beyond a customs union, due to their concerns about handing over sovereignty. It's a shame though that the customs union never materialized. Who knows how different the 20th Century could have been...
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
14,273
SoCal
#33
Yes and no. Before the First World War ideas were floating around in leading German circles to create a large customs union that centred on Germany, France and Austria-Hungary. Eventually this could be expanded to include most of continental Europe (the British Empire and Russia would be excluded). However, it was quite apparent that French (and to a lesser extent Hungarian) opposition would render this impossible and I don't think it ever materialized into a concrete policy or proposal. Also, the Prussians would have never allowed it to evolve beyond a customs union, due to their concerns about handing over sovereignty. It's a shame though that the customs union never materialized. Who knows how different the 20th Century could have been...
Very interesting!

BTW, would Germany have been willing to hold a plebiscite in Alsace-Lorraine in exchange for France agreeing to enter such a customs union if this idea would have ever materialized?
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,610
Sydney
#34
Why give good territory with an industrious population to France ,
it was a most excellent buffer made France weaker and Alsace at least wasn't exactly enamored of the anti-clerical republic
there is a lot of suspicion to this day toward a Latin temper alien to the Easterners
some minimum of respect would have cemented them to the Reich to which many believed they rightly belonged .
the custom union could be tossed around but getting Danemark and the Benelux countries into it would have been incentive enough

On the subject of the transformative effect of WW1 as a total break with the past
 
May 2015
1,009
The Netherlands
#36
Very interesting!

BTW, would Germany have been willing to hold a plebiscite in Alsace-Lorraine in exchange for France agreeing to enter such a customs union if this idea would have ever materialized?
If there was a window of opportunity for such a plebiscite, it would have to be under Bethmann-Hollweg and before the Zabern Affair in 1913. But I think it's safe to say that any change in the status of Alsace-Lorraine was extremely sensitive and risked the wrath of nationalist elements in Germany.
 
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Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
14,273
SoCal
#37
I don't think nationalist sentiments in Germany would allow Germany's rulers to do this.
Well, this appears to be the problem. In order for France to actually agree to this and drop its alliance with Russia, it would probably need something very big from Germany. I don't know what else Germany can offer France that would be as important to France as Alsace-Lorraine.