Soft power centralisation: the CIA, Bilderberg and the first steps towards European integration

“Everyone is familiar with hard power. We know that military and economic might often get others to change their position. […] But sometimes you can get the outcomes you want without tangible threats or payoffs. The indirect way to get what you want has sometimes been called ‘the second face of power.’ [Aside from] threatening military force or economic sanctions, it is also important to set the agenda and attract others in world politics. This soft power – getting others to want the outcomes that you want – co-opts people rather than coerces them [and] rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others.[1]

Joseph Nye in Soft power: the means to success in world politics

Today, 25 March 2017, marks the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, one of the most important treaties in the long historical trend of European integration. The treaty led to the creation of a single market on 1 January 1958 between France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux with the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC) overseen by the European Commission, an executive governmental body operating autonomous from the participating states. The signing of the treaty did not come about overnight but concludes a heavily debated process since the end of the Second World War (WWII) between supranationalists, who wanted to create an executive governmental body above that of the nation-state, and the intergovernmentalists, who favoured multilateral relations. Euroscepticism, or at least reservations about centralisation, were indeed ubiquitously present in the period from WWII to 1957, but the overt and covert pressure from the US and its Atlanticist spin-off globalist organisations, largely absent from the historical debate, eventually helped to tip the scales in favour of a supranational Europe.

Overt pressure: the Marshall Plan and the Council on Foreign Relations

Severely hit by the carnage caused by WWII, the nations of Europe were significantly weakened. Because of the widespread poverty and the decisive role of communist resistance movements during the war, communism became relatively popular in postwar Western Europe. Electoral victories by communist parties were expected throughout Europe, and a Tito-backed communist insurgency in Greece was only beaten back with British intervention in the late 1940s. The US, hoping to expand its sphere of influence in Europe, was not just going to let that happen, however. The Truman Doctrine, kickstarted after President Truman addressed congress in March 1947, promised American support for all nations threatened by Soviet expansion, and a few months later, Secretary of State George Marshall laid out his Marshall Plan. Sold to congress as a means of preventing the spread of communism, the plan promised desperately needed aid to Western Europe in economic support to help rebuild the ravaged continent. In order to receive Marshall-help, however, the European nations had to liberalise their economy by lessening interstate barriers and dropping a number of regulations. This obviously benefited American exporters and industries, signalled by a period of economic boom after the implementation of the Marshall Plan in the US.[2] Another demand was partial political integration, as the Americans forced the 16 participating countries to work together through the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC). The European nations were reluctant to relinquish some of their only recently reacquired sovereignty, but they complied due to the dire need of economic help.

CFRLogo of the Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), by far Washington’s most powerful globalist think tank, played an important role in the formulation of the Marshall Plan. It widely discussed European reconstruction in the winter of 1946-47,[3] and during the same time period, David Rockefeller, powerful banker and later CFR chairman, became secretary to a study group that was already working on a plan to reconstruct Western Europe with American money before Marshall was appointed Secretary of State in January 1947.[4] Of the 19 people on the executive board of the Marshall Plan Committee, eight were members of the CFR, among them Allen Dulles, CFR director and notorious CIA spymaster.[5]

The CIA, Monnet and the roadmap to the Schuman Declaration

Soon, the US and their federalist allies in Europe realised that overt American pressure would play right into the hands of their eurosceptic rivals, however, as they feared accusations of American interference in European politics. Therefore, the US resorted to a number of covert ways to stimulate the European project instead, including subsidising pro-integration political parties, helping American and European trade unionists undermine the Soviet-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions, but also influencing cultural and intellectual trends in Europe by funding a variety of conferences, publications and radio stations.[6] Last but not least, American and British intelligence created secret paramilitary stay-behind or GLADIO networks under the NATO-umbrella in several European countries that were designed to offer resistance against the possibility of a Soviet incursion into Western Europe. In some countries, GLADIO was linked to right-wing terrorists who engaged in political manipulation, harassment of left-wing parties, massacres, torture, and most notoriously, committed a number of false flag terrorist attacks between the 1960s and 1980s, which were often falsely blamed on left-wing groups in order to keep the communist threat alive in the hearts and minds of the European population.[7]

William J. Donovan (2)William J. Donovan

The most profound covert American influence during the initial stages of European integration was waged through the American Committee on United Europe (ACUE), an organisation operating mostly on CIA and Rockefeller and Ford Foundation money. Created in the wake of The Hague Congress of 1948, in which Winston Churchill assembled the continent’s political elite to call for a “United States of Europe,” its primary function was to funnel millions of dollars to unofficial groups promoting European unity. William J. Donovan, the wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor of the CIA), and Allen Dulles, aside from prominent CFR member also head of the CIA in the early Cold War and its longest serving director to date, were ACUE’s chairman and vice-chairman respectively during its first years of existence. In this crucial time period from The Hague Congress until 1950, ACUE played an undeniably important role in saving the collapsing European Movement, a prestigious but fragmented umbrella organisation which lobbied other groups and think tanks throughout the continent for a rapid unification. As it provided almost half of the movement’s funds from late 1948 to early 1953, ACUE saved it from economic collapse.[8] According to Prof. Richard J. Aldrich, ACUE support to the European Movement and like-minded organisations was “central to efforts to drum up mass support for the Schuman Plan [and] a European Assembly with sovereign powers.”[9]

And indeed, on 9 May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed to place Franco-German production of coal and steel under a common supranational High Authority with sovereign powers of its own. What followed was the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Committee (ECSC) between West Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux, the direct predecessor of the ECC. In other words, the dream of functionalist integration – coined by David Mitrany (a political scientist who was employed by the British counterpart of the CFR)[10] in 1943 as the strategy of supranational integration through a series of sectoral processes of internationalisation designed to trigger an autonomous logic which would ultimately make further integration inevitable – was finally set in motion.

Jean Monnet (2)Jean Monnet

Although called the Schuman Declaration, it was inspired and for the most part drafted by the French diplomat Jean Monnet, the first president of the High Authority (although never elected to public office). Aside from his cartoonish textbook description as the idealistic founding father of Europe, Monnet was tied into an extensive network of trans-Atlantic connections, spending much of his life in the US. Not only was he linked to powerful investment banks such as Lazard Frères and Goldman Sachs, both in the Rockefeller orbit, but he served as President Roosevelt’s wartime eyes and ears and personal advisor on Europe, too.[11] French President Charles de Gaulle, who blocked further European integration in the 1960s, even conceived of him as an American agent.[12]

Ultra-imperialism, Bilderberg and the roadmap to the Treaty of Rome

In light of the rise of Atlanticism, culminating in NATO’s inception in 1949, a Western trans-Atlantic power elite was in the make after WWII. This transnational capital class, as called by some analysts, does not answer to a particular nation-state but instead to multinational banks, corporations, and the idea of globalism in general. Contrary to Lenin’s theory of imperialism, which assumes that competing nation-states act at the behest of nationally-based internal capitalist classes, bilateral capitalist interests between the US and Western Europe emerged in the wake of WWII. Although this transnational class feeds from the favours that governments grant them on both sides of the Atlantic, it thus transcends inter-imperialist rivalries and lives a life of its own beyond the scope of the nation-state. Hence, Kautsky’s notion of ultra-imperialism provides an alternative theoretical framework, as he postulates that rival capitalist interests can coalesce into a relative unified hegemonic bloc.

The emergence of this transnational power elite reverberates in the proliferation of globalist-minded think tanks, such as the CFR or the Trilateral Commission for instance, but also of secretive trans-Atlantic organisations and meetings, of which the Bilderberg Group is the most characteristic example in the case of European unification. The Bilderberg conference is an annual private invitation-only meeting of 120 to 150 people of the European and North American political elite in conjunction with leaders of industry, finance, academia and media. Although it brings together some of the globe’s most powerful people every year, the group is able to remain almost completely secretive, with hardly any reports reaching the outside world (although this has changed somewhat over the course of the last few years because of the rise of the internet and the pressure from the alternative media). This media blackout in itself gives you a pretty good idea of Bilderberg’s power.[13] Rather than a totally homogenous group, the Bilderberg meetings are organised around the principle of reaching consensus instead of through voting and formal resolutions.[14] Hence, the real power lies in the core Steering Committee and the powers behind them, who project their ideas onto the attendees who then go on to implement them through their various institutions.

Bilderberg chartThe connections between the core Bilderberg members and various government agencies, banks, multinationals and globalist foundations.

The conference derives its name from Hotel de Bilderberg in the Netherlands, where the first meeting was held in May 1954. It was initiated by Polish politician-in-exile Józef Retinger who, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe, proposed an international conference at which the West European and North American elite would be brought together to promote Atlanticism. Other European founding members included Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who had joined the Nazi Party in the 1930s,[15] former Belgian Prime Minister Paul van Zeeland and then head of Unilever Paul Rijkens. Important attendees from the other side of the Atlantic were then head of the CIA Walter Bedell Smith, special assistant for psychological warfare to the US president and director of the Committee for a Free Europe and Radio Free Europe Charles D. Jackson, head of Lehman Brothers George Ball and powerful banker and oiligarch David Rockefeller.

The first five Bilderberg conferences played a decisive role in the lead up to signing of the Treaty of Rome, recognised by the EU itself as the formative event that lies at its foundation. During these meetings, protectionism was successfully subordinated to the liberalising idea of a common market. Documents leaked by Wikileaks show that there was a general recognition of “the pressing need to bring the German people, together with other peoples of Europe, into a common market” among the Bilderbergers at its third conference in September 1955. “It was generally recognised that it is our common responsibility to arrive in the shortest possible time at the highest degree of integration, beginning with a common European market,” the Wikileaks files show.[16] According to George McGhee, former US ambassador to West Germany and Bilderberg attendee, “the Treaty of Rome, which brought the Common Market into being, was nurtured at Bilderberg meetings.”[17]

Paul-Henri SpaakPaul-Henri Spaak

In 1955, the same year in which the above-mentioned Bilderberg meeting was held, there was a revitalisation of European politics that eventually led to the signing of the Treaty of Rome. After the Conference of Messina in June, an intergovernmental conference under the leadership of Paul-Henri Spaak was set up to remove the last obstacles on the path to a common market. Spaak was a Belgian politician who, much like Monnet, was heavily tied into the Atlanticist power elite structure and had always been a staunch supporter of European economic supranationalism. He was minister of foreign affairs of the Belgian government in exile and thus resided in Britain during WWII, lies at the foundation of the Benelux customs union, presided over the Common Assembly of the ECSC from 1952 to 1953 and became head of the European Movement with the help of the CIA in 1950.[18] Later he would become NATO Secretary General and he is reported to have attended at least one Bilderberg meeting.[19] There were, however, a number of other well-connected people behind the scenes that played an instrumental role in the Spaak Report as well. These included Jean-Charles Snoy et d’Oppures, representative of the Belgian government, Robert Rothschild, a direct descendant of the founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty Mayer Amschel Rothschild, and Etienne Davignon, an insider europhile who would later become EU commissioner and member of the Trilateral Commission, today presides over the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe, and has attended countless Bilderberg conferences, used to be a member of its Steering Committee and even served as its chairman from 1998 to 2001.[20]

The final negotiations transpired relatively smooth in the Benelux countries,[21] Italy and West Germany, but the French government was not convinced despite De Gaulle’s temporary disappearance from the political stage. After it was assured the inclusion of Monnet’s EURATOM Plan, which centered around cooperation in the field of atomic energy, and a protectionist common European agriculture policy, France agreed to sign the Treaty of Rome, which eventually happened on 25 March 1957. The fact that as a result of time pressure the text was signed on blank paper without the signatories being aware of the scam[22] is perhaps perfectly characteristic of the power unelected, influenceable and corruptible eurocrat insiders have been able to wield through the backdoors of Brussels’ hub of centralisation.


The historical trend towards European integration can only be understood as a mixture of several intertwining factors. The more covert aspects that could explain the coming into existence of a common market in 1958, the event which is generally remembered as one of the if not the most important milestone of European integration, however, is largely absent from the historical debate. Therefore, I chose to focus on these often disregarded aspects rather than trying to give a comprehensive understanding of European unification. Thus, I recognise that other more well-known factors, such as the traumatising effect of WWII for instance, played an instrumental role in swaying public opinion in favour of integration as well. Nonetheless, this article in my opinion shows that even though public opinion might have been open to economic integration, the newly formed supranational institutions were made to serve the very special interests that I have covered in this account, not necessarily those of the people.


[1] Joseph Nye, Soft power: the means to success in world politics (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), 5.

[2] Indeed, corporate public policy organisations in the US, such as the Committee for Economic Development, had not only helped formulate the Marshall Plan but were almost uniquely responsible for carrying it out, too. More on the origins of the Marshall Plan and its connection to several of these corporate lobbies and organisations, see David W. Eakins, “Business planners and America’s postwar expansion,” in Corporations and the Cold War, ed. David Horowitz (New York/London: Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, 1969), 164-6.

[3] As recalled in a memorandum by Charles P. Kindleberger, chief of the Division of German and Austrian Economic Affairs at the US Department of State who participated in the work of various departmental and interdepartmental committees on the Marshall Plan: United States Department of State, Foreign relations of the United States, 1947: the British Commonwealth; Europe, Volume III (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1947), 241,

[4] Laurence Shoup and William Minter, Imperial brain trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States foreign policy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977), 35.

[5] William F. Jasper, “United States of Europe,” The New American, 10.04.1989, reprinted on its site on 10.05.2013,

[6] Richard J. Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity: the American committee on United Europe, 1948-60,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 8, no. 1 (1997): 187-9.

[7] Daniele Ganser, NATO’s secret armies: Operation GLADIO and terrorism in Europe (Abingdon: Frank Cass, 2005).

[8] Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity.” In the 1950s, after ACUE had saved the European Movement from economic collapse, the organisation went on to play a major role in mobilising European youth in favour of European unification.

[9] Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity,” 185.

[10] Mike Peters, “The Bilderberg Group and the project of European unification,”

[11] Jasper, “United States of Europe;” Peters, “The Bilderberg Group and the project of European unification.”

[12] Amrose Evans-Pritchard, “The European Union always was a CIA project, as Brexiteers discover,” Telegraph, 27.04.2016,

[13] This chart shows the extensive linkages between the core members of Bilderberg and all sorts of powerful government agencies, banks, multinationals and globalist foundations, which clearly demonstrates the massive potential of the annual conference: Tyler Durden, “Does Bilderberg really run the world? One chart to help you decide,” Zero Hedge, 11.06.2016, The role of Bilderberg in one particular event proves its grandiose power: the 1973 OPEC oil embargo during the Yom Kippur war. Leaked documents show that the crisis and its ensuing response was in fact prepared months ahead at the 1973 Bilderberg conference to create the Petrodollar, through which the oiligarchs reached unprecedented levels of control over the global economy: James Corbett, “How Big Oil engineered the Petrodollar,” International Forecaster Weekly, 02.01.2016,; For more details and documentation, watch the enclosed documentary or see William F. Engdahl, Myths, lies and oil wars, chapter 4: “A dramatic shock” (Wiesbaden: edition.enghdahl, 2012), 51-70. According to Etienne Davignon – Belgian industrialist, former EU Commissioner and former member of the Bilderberg Steering Committee – the annual conferences “helped create the euro in the 1990s,” too: Andrew Rettman, “‘Jury’s out’ on future of Europe, EU doyen says,” EU Observer, 16.03.2009,

[14] Peters, “The Bilderberg Group and the project of European unification.”

[15] “Bernhard was feitelijk wèl een Nazi,” NOS, 08.03.2010,

[16] Wikileaks, Bilderberg meeting report Garmisch-Patenkirchen, 1955, 08.05.2009,,_1955.

[17] Tony Gosling, “The master Bilders,” Bilderberg,

[18] Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity,” 195-8.

[19] “Secret meeting held in Cannes,” Washington Post, 30.03.1963,,%201963&author=&pub=The%20Washington%20Post&edition=&startpage=&desc=Secret%20Meeting%20Held%20in%20Cannes.

[20] Wikispooks, Etienne Davignon,

[21] Apparently, Belgian King Baudoin and Prime Minister Achille van Acker had some issues with the establisment of a common market, but eventually Belgium did sign: Rik van Cauwelaert, “De grondwet omzeild,” De Tijd, 11.03.2017,

[22] “EU secret revealed: Rome Treaty was signed on blank sheet,” Euractiv, 16.05.2014,

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