The concept has some antecedents in Brezhnev's foreign policy, who used the phrase during a visit to Bonn in 1981. However, at this time it was likely used in an attempt to sow discord between the United States and the European allies in the hopes of moderating American policy. Though Gorbachev used a similar phrase in a 1985 statement, calling the Old World "our common house," perhaps the most famous use of the term arose when with Gorbachev presented his concept of "our common European home" or the "all-European house" during a visit to Czechoslovakia in April 1987. In his main address in Prague he declared:
At the time, Eastern European analysts viewed this rhetoric as a way for Gorbachev to prevent an outright revolt of Eastern European countries from the Soviet bloc. Jim Hoagland wrote that Gorbachev's "Common European Home" and Bush's "Europe Whole and Free" were competing concepts describing the same situation: an economic and ideological collapse of Soviet power concurrent with the European Community gaining new dynamism and economic clout.
On June 12, 1989, Gorbachev arrived in Bonn, and held private talks with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Richard von Weizsäcker. The following day, Kohl and Gorbachev signed a joint declaration supporting national self-determination, mutual reduction in nuclear and conventional forces, and a "Common European Home" in which Canada and the United States have a role. He also stated that by appropriating Charles de Gaulle's "Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals" geographical definition, Gorbachev was attempting to keep the Soviet Union presence prescribed.
On November 29, 1989, Gorbachev, en route to the upcoming Malta summit with President George H.W. Bush, arrived in Italy. He gave a speech the next day at the Rome city hall in which he sketched out the notion of the "Common European Home" as a commonwealth of sovereign and economically interdependent nations. He then also proposed a 1990 meeting of CSCE, and met with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican the following day.
At the time, analysts such as Robert D. Hormats saw the nascent European Community as primely positioned to take on the role of a Common European Home due to its "moral, political and social – as well as economic – strength." Ronald D. Asmus noted that "Gorbachev's vision of a Common European Home was predicated on the belief that reform in Eastern Europe could be controlled and that reformist communist parties would continue to play an important role in their countries' politics, including in the G.D.R." Finally, Coit D. Blacker wrote that Soviet leadership "appeared to have believed that whatever loss of authority the Soviet Union might suffer in Eastern Europe would be more than offset by a net increase in its influence in western Europe."