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The Schuman Declaration is a governmental proposal by then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman to create a new form of organization of States in Europe called a supranational Community. Following the experiences of two world wars, France recognized that certain values such as justice could not be defined by the State apparatus alone. It involved far more than a technical Community to place the coal and steel industries of Francemarker, West Germanymarker and other countries under a common High Authority. It led to the peaceful re-organization of post- World War Europe. The proposal led first to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It was also the forerunner of several other European Communities and also what is now the European Union (EU). The event is celebrated annually as Europe Day and Schuman himself is considered one of the Founding fathers of the European Union.

Schuman left no doubt in his first words that this was the birth of a New Europe, based on innovatory democratic principles.

' It is no longer a question of vain words but of a bold act, a constructive act. France has acted and the consequences of its action can be immense. We hope they will be. France has acted primarily for peace and to give peace a real chance.

' For this it is necessary that Europe should exist. Five years, almost to the day, after the unconditional surrender of Germany, France is accomplishing the first decisive act for European construction and is associating Germany with this. Conditions in Europe are going to be entirely changed because of it. This transformation will facilitate other action which has been impossible until this day.

' Europe will be born from this, a Europe which is solidly united and constructed around a strong framework. It will be a Europe where the standard of living will rise by grouping together production and expanding markets, thus encouraging the lowering of prices.

' In this Europe, the Ruhr, the Saar and the French industrial basins will work together for common goals and their progress will be followed by observers from the United Nations. All Europeans without distinction, whether from east or west, and all the overseas territories, especially Africa, which awaits development and prosperity from this old continent, will gain benefits from their labour of peace. '

Robert Schuman delivering his speech in 1950


Europe had just come out of the Second World War, a conflict that had nearly destroyed the continent and split it between two spheres of influence. In a desire not to repeat such destruction, there was a great deal of momentum towards European co-operation. Winston Churchill, standing next to Robert Schuman had called for Franco-German reconciliation in a united Europe in a speech in Metz on 14 July 1946. In Zurich Churchill later called for a United States of Europe, and to begin with, a Council of Europe. In speeches before the United Nations, Schuman announced that a revitalized Germany must be placed inside a European democracy. The Council of Europe was duly created to provide the great framework of a European union (as it was originally called) in which the European Communities could be inserted. The Council was a herald of these supranational communities to come on the path to a fully democratic European integration.

Schuman had stated that the idea of a European Coal and Steel Community dated from before he attended university. Schuman initiated policies in preparation for this major change of European politics while Prime Minister of France (1947-8) and Foreign Minister from 1948 onwards. He spoke about the principles of sharing European resources in a supranational union at the signing of the Statute of the Council of Europe in Londonmarker, 5 May 1949.

The Declaration had several distinct aims, which it tackled together.

  • It marked the birth of Europe
  • It made war between Member States impossible
  • It encouraged world peace
  • It would transform Europe by a 'step by step' process (building through sectoral supranational communities) leading to the unification of Europe democratically, including both East and West Europe separated by the Iron Curtain
  • It created the world's first supranational institution and
  • the world's first international anti-cartel agency
  • It created a single market across the Community
  • This, starting with the coal and steel sector, would revitalise the whole European economy by similar community processes
  • It would improve the world economy and the developing countries, such as Africa.

Aim and drafting

The Declaration itself was first drafted by Paul Reuter, Schuman's colleague and the lawyer at the Foreign ministry. It was edited by Jean Monnetmarker and others including Schuman's Directeur de Cabinet, Bernard Clappier. The draft documents of the Declaration have been published by the Jean Monnetmarker Foundation. They show that Reuter pencilled the first draft and Monnet made only minor corrections. Monnet crossed out the word supranational -- the key concept used by Schuman to describe the new form of European democracy—and replaced it with the ambiguous word federation. All the key elements—a new democratic organisation of Europe, the supranational innovations, the European Community, the High Authority, fusion of vital interests such as coal and steel, and a single European market and economy—were floated in a series of major speeches given by Schuman in the previous, preparatory years. They include his speeches at the United Nations, at St James's Palacemarker, London at the signing of the Statutes of the Council of Europe and in Brussels, Strasbourg and in North America. The Proposal for a supranational Community came as a positive and welcome shock to the European peoples in the dismal, fearful years of the Cold War as it ruled out another war with Germany. The proposals became a Declaration of French government policy when after two Cabinet discussions it was agreed on 9 May 1950 that France would abide democratically by such a Community establishing European rule of law.

In his introductory remarks, Schuman revealed that this seemingly technical, social and industrial innovation would have huge political repercussions, not only for European democracy but for bringing democratic liberty to other areas such as Sovietmarker-controlled eastern Europe, to aid the developing countries and for establishing world peace. 'Europe will be born of this, a Europe which is solidly united and constructed around a strong framework,' he said. The declaration's immediate goal was for France, Italy, West Germany, and the Benelux countries to share strategic resources in order to 'make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible' and to build a lasting peace in Europe. The immediate outcome of this initiative was the 18 April 1951 creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), first of the three European Communities and predecessor of the European Union. At the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 18 April 1951, the six signatories States affirmed in a separate document that this date representated the Europe's birth: 'By the signature of this Treaty, the participating Parties give proof of their determination to create the first supranational institution and that thus they are laying the true foundation of an organised Europe. This Europe remains open to all nations. We profoundly hope that other nations will join us in our common endeavour.'


The Schuman Declaration marked the true beginning of post-World War II Franco-German cooperation and the re-integration of West Germany into Western Europe. Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany, said of the declaration, "That's our breakthrough." The ECSC was created by the Treaty of Paris and on 18 April 1951, the leaders of the six member countries (including Schuman) signed the above-mentioned European Declaration stating that 'marked the true foundation of Europe.' The supranational Community as the fruit of the Declaration provided five still-developing European democraticinstitutions: the European Commissionmarker, the European Parliamentmarker, the Consultative Committees (representing organised civil society), the Council of Ministers and the European Court of Justice.

The resulting ECSC introduced a common, single steel and coal market, with freely set market prices, and without internal import/export duties or subsidies. The success of ECSC led to further steps, foreseen by Schuman, being taken with the creation of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. The two European Commissionsmarker of the latter Rome Treaties and the High Authority merged into a single European Commission in the 1960s. Further intergovernmental, (non-supranational), bodies and areas of activities were created leading to the creation of the European Union in 1993.

The Declaration is viewed as one of the main founding events of the EU. In 1985, during Jacques Delors tenure as President of the European Commission, the leaders of the European Council met in Milanmarker to decide upon 'national' symbols for the Community. They adopted those chosen by the Council of Europe previously but they changed the date of Europe Day from 5 May to 9 May, in commemoration of the Schuman Declaration (the day is now also known as Schuman Day).



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