|Prime Minister of Belgium|
20 March 1947 – 11 August 1949
|Preceded by||Camille Huysmans|
|Succeeded by||Gaston Eyskens|
13 March 1946 – 31 March 1946
|Preceded by||Achille Van Acker|
|Succeeded by||Achille Van Acker|
15 May 1938 – 22 February 1939
|Preceded by||Paul-Emile Janson|
|Succeeded by||Hubert Pierlot|
|Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization|
16 May 1957 – 21 April 1961
|Preceded by||Hastings Ismay|
|Succeeded by||Dirk Stikker|
|President of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community|
23 July 1952 – 1 January 1954
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Alcide De Gasperi|
|President of the United Nations General Assembly|
31 March 1946 – 20 March 1947
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Oswaldo Aranha|
|Born||Paul Henri Charles Spaak
25 January 1899
|Died||31 July 1972
|Political party||Belgian Socialist Party|
|Alma mater||Free University of Brussels|
Paul Henri Charles Spaak (25 January 1899 – 31 July 1972) was a Belgian socialist politician and statesman, who served as Prime Minister of Belgium (1938–1939, 1946 and 1947–1949), as the first President of the United Nations General Assembly (1946–1947), as the first President of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (1952–1954), as the first President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, then called the Consultative Assembly (1949–50), and as the second Secretary General of NATO (1957–1961). He received the Charlemagne Prize in 1957 and the 1978–1979 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour.
Paul-Henri Spaak was born on 25 January 1899 in Schaerbeek, Belgium, to a distinguished Belgian family. His grandfather, Paul Janson was an important member of the Liberal Party. His mother, Marie Janson was a socialist, and the first woman to enter the Belgian Senate, and his father, Paul Spaak was a poet and playwright. Another noted members of his family included Paul Henri's daughter, Antoinette Spaak, the first Belgian woman to lead a political party, his uncle, Paul-Emile Janson, who served as Prime Minister of Belgium from 1937 to 1938 and his niece, Catherine Spaak, a movie star.
During World War I, Spaak attempted to join the Belgian Army but was captured by the Germans and spent the next two years in a German prison camp. At the end of the war, Spaak was released from captivity and entered the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he studied law. During the same period, Spaak was also a tennis star, and played for the Belgian team in the 1922 Davis Cup.
After receiving his law degree, Spaak practised law in Brussels, where he "excelled in defending Communists charged with conspiring against the security of the realm", including Fernando de Rosa, an Italian student who attempted to kill Crown Prince Umberto of Italy during a state visit by the prince to Brussel.
He became a member of the Socialist Belgian Labour Party in 1920. He was elected deputy in 1932.
In 1935 he entered the cabinet of Paul Van Zeeland as Minister of Transport. In February 1936 he became Minister of Foreign Affairs, serving first under Zeeland and then under his uncle, Paul-Émile Janson. From May 1938 to February 1939 he was Prime Minister for the first time. In 1938, he allowed Herman Van Breda to smuggle the legacy of Edmund Husserl out of Nazi Germany to Belgium through the Belgian Embassy in Berlin.
In social policy, a number of progressive reforms were realised during Spaak's first premiership. An Act of June 1938 “increased the functions of the National Society for Cheap Houses and Dwellings and empowered it, under State guarantee, to contract a loan of 350 million francs,” while a Royal Decree of July 1938 laid down the rules of applying the provisions of a Holidays with Pay Act passed in 1936 to agricultural, horticultural and forestry undertakings. An Act of the 20th of August 1938 amended and supplemented a Holidays with Pay Act previously passed in 1936 by extending its coverage to all undertakings, whatever their number of wage earners, as well as to home workers. The Act also removed a previous requirement in which a wage earner had to work for at least a year with the same employer in order to earn an annual holiday. An Act of the 8th of July 1938 amended the miners' old-age, invalidity and survivors' insurance scheme by increasing the benefits payable to invalids, aged persons and widows already in receipt of a pension, while also significantly widening the conditions for the grant of invalidity pensions. An Order of the 25th of August 1938 prohibited the use of so-called motor spirit “for greasing, cleaning (hands) etc.,” while a Royal Order of the 27th of August 1938 fixed normal weekly hours of actual work in the ship-repairing industry in Antwerp at 42 hours “distributed over the seven days of the week.” A Royal Order of the 27th of December 1938 extended the scope of an eight-hour Act passed in June 1921 to cover technical staff employed in cinemas, and a Royal Order of the 22nd of December 1938 amended the entries in the second column of the schedule (list of occupations) which was now brought into conformity with Convention No.42, and added “in the case of pneumoconiosis, sand-blasting processes in iron and steel foundries.
When he was minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Spaak adhered to political independence of his country. After the German invasion and the defeat of the Belgians and the French armies, he had to leave France to cross the pro-German Spain in the false bottom of a truck along with the Belgian prime minister, Hubert Pierlot, to get in Portugal and London. During World War II, he was minister of Foreign Affairs of the Belgian Government in exile in London. Thanks to this government at the head of the Belgian military reorganised in Britain and the forces of the Belgian Congo, Belgium was recognised by leading free nations, which allowed him to emerge as a military and economic power with the victories of Abyssinia and participation in the liberation of Europe, as well with the Belgian merchant fleet escaped capture by Germany which will supply, during all the war, strategic agricultural and mineral products of Congo. And by the action of Spaak, Belgium was the first nation to recognise, in 1942–43, General de Gaulle and the French Committee as the only justifiable representative of France.
After the war, he was minister of Foreign Affairs under the subsequent ministers Achille Van Acker and Camille Huysmans. He was twice appointed Prime Minister as well, first from 13 to 31 March 1946, the shortest government in Belgian history, and again from March 1947 to August 1949. During his last government, two important pieces of housing legislation were enacted. The De Taeye Act of 1948 organised fiscal rebates, credit facilities, and premiums for social dwellings built either on private or public initiative, while the Brunfaut Act of 1949 established a central budgeting organisation for governmental social housing policy, shifted the financial burden of infrastructural works to the state, and organised the financing of the two National Housing Societies. A bill on war damage, agreed in October 1947, stipulated that owners of homes damaged by the war and took their initiative to restore them were entitled to compensation. In 1948, voting rights for women were introduced. An Act provided for the establishment of works councils was promulgated in September 1948, while a school building fund was set up that same year “to supply the material needs of secondary education.” Also in 1948, the multilateral school was introduced.
Various measures were also introduced to improving working conditions in mines. A decree of September 1947 introduced the compulsory establishment of mine safety services and safety and health committees in all mines, while another Decree issued that same month revised and expanded the provisions related to hygiene installations, medical examination, rescue, and first aid. Automatic indexation of 95% of wages was provided from 1948 onwards, while women were provided with access to the magistracy from 1948 onwards. In December 1948, an Act was passed that replaced the National Society for War Orphans with the National Society for Orphans, Widows and Ascendants of War Victims. Various measures were also introduced to improve working conditions in the mining industry. From June 1947 onwards, all young workers under the age of 18 became entitled to three weeks' annual paid leave, while workers between the ages of 18 and 21 entitled to at least a fortnight. In September 1947, Orders were promulgated providing for the supervision of health and hygiene in mines, surface mines and quarries. In June 1948, legislation was introduced that doubled holiday remuneration for workers, and in August 1948 a law was passed that introduced nonconfessional moral instruction in secondary education.
Spaak gained international prominence in 1945, when he was elected chairman of the first session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. During the third session of the UN General Assembly in Paris, Spaak apostrophised the delegation of the Soviet Union with the famous words: "peur de vous" (afraid of you).
Spaak became a staunch supporter of regional co-operation and collective security after 1944. While still in exile in London, he promoted the creation of a customs union uniting Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (see Benelux). In August 1949, he was elected President of the first session of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. From 1952 to 1953, he presided the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, and from 1950 to 1955 he presided the European Movement.
In 1955, the Messina Conference of European leaders appointed him as chairman of a preparatory committee (Spaak Committee) charged with the preparation of a report on the creation of a common European market. The so-called "Spaak Report " formed the cornerstone of the Intergovernmental Conference on the Common Market and Euratom at Val Duchesse in 1956 and led to the signature, on 25 March 1957, of the Treaties of Rome establishing a European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Paul-Henri Spaak signed the treaty for Belgium, together with Jean Charles Snoy et d'Oppuers. His role in the creation of the EEC earned Spaak a place among the Founding fathers of the European Union.
When, in 1962, France, under de Gaulle, attempted to block both British entry to the European Communities and undermine their supranational foundation with the Fouchet Plan, Spaak working with Joseph Luns of the Netherlands rebuffed the idea. He was a staunch defender of the independence of the European Commission. "Europe of tomorrow must be a supranational Europe," he declared. In honour of his work for Europe, the first building of the European Parliament in Brussels was named after him.
In 1956, he was chosen by the Council of NATO to succeed Lord Ismay as Secretary General. He held this office from 1957 until 1961, when he was succeeded by Dirk Stikker. Spaak was also instrumental in the choice of Brussels as the new seat of the Alliance's HQ in 1966.
This was also the year of his last European campaign, when he played an important conciliatory role in resolving the "empty chair crisis" by helping to bring France back into the European fold. In 1957, he received the Charlemagne Award, an award by the German city of Aachen to people who contributed to the European idea and European peace.
Paul-Henri Spaak retired from politics in 1966. He was member of the Royal Belgian Academy of French Language and Literature. In 1969, he published his memoirs in two volumes titled Combats inachevés ("The Continuing Battle", literally, "unfinished fights"). Spaak died aged 73, on 31 July 1972 in his home in Braine-l'Alleud near Brussels, and was buried at the Foriest graveyard in Braine-l'Alleud.
He and his wife Marguerite Malevez had two daughters—Antoinette Spaak led the Democratic Front of Francophones—and a son, the diplomat Fernand Spaak. After death of Marguerite in August 1964, he married Simone Dear in April 1965. His brother was the screenwriter Charles Spaak. His niece was the actress Catherine Spaak and one of his grandsons is the artist Anthony Palliser. During the 1940s, during his time in New York with the United Nations, he also had an affair with the American fashion designer Pauline Fairfax Potter (1908–1976).
Spaak has left such a legacy behind, that he was the main motive for one of the most recent and famous gold commemorative coin: the Belgian 3 pioneers of the European unification commemorative coin, minted in 2002. The obverse side shows a portrait with the names Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak and Konrad Adenauer.
In the election for De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian) Spaak ended on the 40th place in the Flemish version and on the 11th place in the Walloon version.
- Paul-Henri Spaak Foundation
- Robert Rothschild, diplomat, chef de cabinet
- Spaak method of negotiating
- "Paul-Henri Spaak." Almanac of Famous People, 9th edition. Thomson Gale, 2007.
- "Profile: Paul-Henri Spaak". The Observer. UK. 13 January 1946. p. 6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Catherine Spaak Is Wed". The New York Times. 5 August 1972. p. 13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- McFadden, Robert (1 August 1972). "Paul-Henri Spaak is Dead at 73; An Architect of European Unity". p. 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Growth to Limits. The Western European Welfare States Since World War II by Peter Flora.
- SAFETY IN COAL MINES VOLUME I: Organisation on the National and International Levels, International Labour Office, Geneva, 1953
- "Spaak report". Aei.pitt.edu. Retrieved 2013-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "President John F. Kennedy Presents the Medal of Freedom to Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Paul-Henri Spaak, Oval Office, White House, Washington, DC, 02/21/1961". OPA - Online Public Access. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 4 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Spaak, Paul-Henri (1971). The Continuing Battle: Memoirs of a European, 1936–1966. trans. Henry Fox. London: Weidenfeld. ISBN 0-297-99352-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Thierry Grosbois, Spaak et les États baltes 1939-1991, BOD, Paris, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paul-Henri Spaak.|
- Fondation Paul-Henri Spaak
- The Presidency Project – Remarks at the Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Paul Henri Spaak, Secretary General of NATO – 21 February 1961
|Prime Minister of Belgium
Achille Van Acker
|Prime Minister of Belgium
Achille Van Acker
|Prime Minister of Belgium
|New office||President of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community
Alcide De Gasperi
|New office||President of the United Nations General Assembly
|President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
François de Menthon
|Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization