In the aftermath of the Second World War, a handful of political leaders had the foresight and the courage to start a peace endeavour like no other. Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor, Alcide de Gasperi, the Italian Prime Minister, all of them belonging to the EPP family, were among the Founding Fathers that took the first crucial step in making the idea of a united Europe a reality. It is fair to say that it was Christian Democrats in particular who began reconciliation and integration in Europe.
The European Coal and Steel Community was created, motivated by a desire for peace and to rebuild Europe on a sound economic footing. Most of the representatives that participated at that First ECSC Assembly belonged to the same generation of pioneers who wished never to see the events of the Second World War re-occur. Founded as the Christian-Democratic Group on 23 June 1953 as a political fraction in the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, our Group has always played a leading role in the construction of Europe.
The path of the European Parliament from Assembly to a fully-fledged Parliament accompanied the building of the EU. The generation that followed the pioneers was determined to bring about practical European integration that would enable Europe's economy to modernise and develop into a single, large marketplace. As Europe became more integrated, its institutions developed in order to cope with arising challenges. The European Parliament introduced direct, universal elections for the first time in 1979. On that occasion, our Group changed its name to the Group of the European People's Party (Christian-Democratic Group).
The EPP family once again took centre-stage as a spearhead for European integration after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the imminent demise of totalitarian communism across Central and Eastern Europe. Inspired by the idea of reunification, the EPP stood behind and supported the emergence of pluralist democracies in the formerly communist countries and strongly advocated that the continent torn in half must again be united. Non-communist parties that subscribed to centre-right values won across Europe. The people gave support to our vision of a re-united continent in the European elections in July 1999. We have been the biggest Group in the European Parliament since then.
Our openness and inclusiveness also meant that our political family adapted to encompass the centre-right in the broad term. The Christian Democratic parties that formed the core of our Group in the post-war years adjusted their political philosophy to take stock of the changing electorate and the Group grew to include moderate and Conservative political groups in Scandinavia and Central and Eastern Europe. The Group also changed its name to the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in the period 1999-2009.
It again became the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) in June 2009.
The EPP family has shaped the story of European integration. Today, when Europe is again faced with challenges, we continue to honour that legacy by remaining true to our convictions: a united Europe based on the values of human dignity, freedom, human rights, rule of law, solidarity and subsidiarity.
Secretaries-General of the EPP Group
KAMP, Martin (D)
PEDERSEN, Niels (DK)
WELLE, Klaus (D)
DAVID, Mário (P)
GUCKENBERGER, Gerhard (D)
GUCCIONE, Sergio (I)
BETTAMIO, Giampaolo (I)
DE POI, Alfredo (I) †
FERRAGNI, Arnaldo (I)
LENZ, Carl Otto (D)
OPITZ, Hans Joachim (D)