Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet (French: [ʒɑ̃ mɔnɛ]; 9 November 1888 – 16 March 1979) was a French political economist and diplomat . An influential supporter of European unity, he is considered as one of the founding fathers of the European Union. Jean Monnet has been called "The Father of Europe" by those who see his innovative and pioneering efforts in the 1950s as the key to establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor of today’s European Union. Never elected to public office, Monnet worked behind the scenes of American and European governments as a well-connected pragmatic internationalist. He was named patron of the 1980–1981 academic year at the College of Europe, in honour of his accomplishments.