Winston Churchill was a major influence on the development of the Council of Europe. Already in the early years of the Second World War he was beginning to formulate the idea of bringing countries together in a way that would foster co-operation and replace the constant conflicts of the past few centuries, coining the phrase ‘Council of Europe’ in 1942. His influential speech in Zürich in 1946 helped political leaders of the time hone the idea of what he called ‘a sort of United States of Europe’.
His speech to the Parliamentary Assembly recognised the long path that had led to the creation of the Council of Europe, stressing that the work was only just beginning. They were, he said, growing a living plant, not making a machine, and, he warned, Europe was still facing great dangers. He urged the Assembly to be inspired by courage and unity:
“In all that we do and say here, we must not belie the hopes and faith of millions and scores of millions of men and women not only in the free countries of Europe but in those which still lie in bondage.”