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Paul-Henri Spaak

Paul-Henri Charles Spaak (January 25, 1899 - July 31, 1972) was a Belgian Socialist politician and statesman.

Born in Schaerbeek, Paul-Henri was the grand-son of the Liberal politician Paul Janson and nephew of another Liberal politician, Paul-Emile Janson, who was briefly Prime Minister of Belgium from 1937 to 1938. His mother, Marie Janson, was the country's first female Senator. During World War I, he lied about his age to be accepted in the Army; he subsequently spent two years as a German prisoner of war.

Spaak studied law in Brussels and became a member of the Socialist Belgian Labour Party[?] in 1920. Elected deputy in 1932, in 1935 he entered the government led by Paul Van Zeeland as Minister of Transports. He was several times Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of Belgium:

Advocate of Belgium's "independence policy" before the World War II, 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 1946, he was elected chairman of the first session of the consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. From 1952 to 1953, he presided the General Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community. In 1955, the Messina conference of European leaders appointed him as chairman of a preparatory committee charged with the preparation of a report on the creation of a common European market. This so-called "Spaak report" led to the signature, on March 25, 1957, of the Rome Treaty establishing a European Economic Community. His role in the creation of the EEC earned Spaak a place among the Founding Fathers of the European Union.

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 apostrophized the Russian delegation with the famous words: "Messieurs, nous avons peur de vous" ( Sirs, we are afraid of you). In 1956, he was chosen by the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 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.

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 titled Combats inachevés (Unfinished struggles, 2 volumes). Spaak died aged 73, on July 31, 1972 in his home in Braine-l'Alleud near Brussels, and was buried at the Foriest graveyard in Braine-l'Alleud.

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