Written by Mike Walker.
1950, much of Europe still lies in ruins from the Second World War.
Germany is crushed and the Allies are divided about allowing the country to rebuild in the face of a growing Soviet threat.
Jean Monnet is charged with planning the reconstruction of France.
Appalled by the devastation of two world wars, he is a highly efficient technocrat and a thinker who knows how to influence politicians.
For years he has believed in European collaboration to secure a peaceful and prosperous future.
Monnet's vision is for a radical realignment of Europe, not by one nation asserting itself over another, but by negotiation, integration and ultimately, through political and economic unification.
Monnet knows he has to move swiftly.
Within days the Allies will decide the future of Germany at a conference in London.
He gathers a small group in his cottage outside Paris to thrash out a revolutionary plan to bring the coal and steel industries of France and Germany together.
Working with the Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, Monnet plots how far to press his idea.
His grand vision of unification remains in the background - the focus is on the practicalities of getting the two nations on board.
Monnet's team produces 9 drafts, arguing intensely about what can be achieved and how it should be implemented.
With a radical plan agreed, Schuman dispatches a secret envoy to the German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer to bring him on board.
When on 9th May Schuman outlines the plan that bears his name and leads to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, many in the room are taken aback at its boldness, but few predict how the Schuman Declaration will become the founding document for the European Union, and a catalyst for those pursuing Monnet's vision of a United States of Europe.
Producer: Richard Clemmow
A Perfectly Normal production for BBC Radio 4.
How, in 1950, secret French plans created the organization that became the European Union.