Walter Hallstein: First President of the Commission and visionary of European integration

11-07-2019

When Walter Hallstein became the first President of the European Economic Community Commission, in 1958, a long career already lay behind him: legal scholar, university professor, research manager, diplomat and German government representative at the conferences drafting the founding treaties of the European Coal and Steel Community and then the European Economic Community. The federalist ideas he developed and the emphasis he placed on supranational institutions remain among his most important legacies. Equally significant was his administrative capacity to build an institution of a completely new type and to anticipate policies that seemed utopian at the time but turned out to be necessary many years later. This impetus to push for further integration earned Hallstein strong opposition from several national leaders, and eventually led to his precipitous departure. This briefing recalls three principal aspects of Hallstein's life: as a scholar and research administrator, as a protagonist of German foreign policy and, of course, as a crucial architect of the early period of European integration.

When Walter Hallstein became the first President of the European Economic Community Commission, in 1958, a long career already lay behind him: legal scholar, university professor, research manager, diplomat and German government representative at the conferences drafting the founding treaties of the European Coal and Steel Community and then the European Economic Community. The federalist ideas he developed and the emphasis he placed on supranational institutions remain among his most important legacies. Equally significant was his administrative capacity to build an institution of a completely new type and to anticipate policies that seemed utopian at the time but turned out to be necessary many years later. This impetus to push for further integration earned Hallstein strong opposition from several national leaders, and eventually led to his precipitous departure. This briefing recalls three principal aspects of Hallstein's life: as a scholar and research administrator, as a protagonist of German foreign policy and, of course, as a crucial architect of the early period of European integration.