Monday, 5 May 2014

9 May 1950: Schuman Declaration

Robert Schuman was the French foreign minister. He proposed, in his Declaration of 9 May 1950, the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The members would pool coal and steel production so as make another war between the countries of Europe "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible". The idea came from Jean Monnet, a senior civil servant. 

The Schuman Declaration aimed to bring about profound change: international cooperation rather than competition. There was political opposition (especially from General Charles de Gaulle) to initiatives that would help Germany, but Schuman managed to get the support of his own Government, that of the United States and the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Schuman's initiative was also due to the fact that he felt democratic western European countries, including Germany, had to be united in the face of the threat posed by the Soviet Union. 

It was hoped that through economic cooperation, standards of living would improve and there would then be greater political unity; peace would then be assured. 

Extract of the Schuman Declaration:

"Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.

With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point. It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organisation open to the participation of the other countries of Europe.

The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe (...)"

Europe Day is celebrated on the 9th May every year

Every year, on 9 May, the European Union celebrates Europe Day. It commemorates the Schuman Declaration, considered as a founding moment of European integration, and celebrates peace and unity in Europe.

Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman made major contributions to European unity and are considered "Founding Fathers".

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