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The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 was a governmental proposal by then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman to create a new form of organisation of states in Europe called a supranational community. Following the experiences of two world wars, France concluded 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 France, West Germany and other countries under a common High Authority. It led to the re-organization of post- World War western Europe by treaty. 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 commemorated annually as Europe Day and Schuman himself is considered one of the Founding fathers of the European Union.
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.
Anxious to see greater European economic integration in order to be able to form a block against the Soviet Union, the U.S. used the Marshall plan to force the adoption of more open markets as a pre-requisite to receive aid. The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation was founded in 1948 to help coordinate the Marshall plan. Its guiding principles were:
- promote co-operation between participating countries and their national production programmes for the reconstruction of Europe,
- develop intra-European trade by reducing tariffs and other barriers to the expansion of trade,
- study the feasibility of creating a customs union or free trade area,
- study multi-lateralisation of payments, and
- achieve conditions for better utilisation of labour.
The U.S. also directly funded prominent European pro-federalists through the government funded American Committee on United Europe.
Under the Monnet Plan of 1946–1950, designed to increase French steel production at the expense of Germany, France had absorbed the Saarland, a center for coal mining, from Germany and turned it into a protectorate. French attempts to detach the industrial region of the Ruhr with its many steel plants and coal mines from Germany met with greater resistance. However, in 1949 the International Authority for the Ruhr was founded. It was an international body that set limits on the production and production capacity in the Ruhr, and controlled distribution of the production, i.e. export or domestic. The organisation was dissolved with the introduction of the common market and the European Coal and Steel Community.
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 full 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 London, 5 May 1949.
The Declaration had several distinct aims, which it tackled together.
- It marked the birth of Europe as a political entity
- It aimed to make 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, including both East and West Europe separated by the Iron Curtain
- 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 claimed to improve the world economy and of the developing countries, such as those in Africa.
According to Professor Dr. Hans Ritschl Schuman stated in a speech that the Schuman plan in reality was the continuation of the Monnet plan, and that it was solely for the sake of supporting French steel exports that they had taken on that task. Professor Dr. Hans Ritschl says this speech was never intended to reach German ears. However Prof Ritschl cites no sources and the characteristics, objectives and method of the Schuman Plan and the Monnet Plan are quite different as noted above.
Aim and drafting
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The Declaration itself was first drafted by Paul Reuter, Schuman's colleague and the lawyer at the Foreign ministry. It was edited by Jean Monnet and others including Schuman's Directeur de Cabinet, Bernard Clappier. The draft documents of the Declaration have been published by the Jean Monnet 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 superstate — and replaced it with the ambiguous word federation. All the key elements—a new 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 Palace, 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 was made 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 by such a Community establishing European rule.
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 Soviet-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' . 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 signatory States affirmed in a separate document that this date represented 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 countries that are free to choose. We profoundly hope that other countries 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 (1951) 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  institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Consultative Committees (representing organised civil society), the Council of Ministers and the European Court of Justice.
The resulting ECSC introduced a common steel and coal market across the member countries 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 Commissions 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's tenure as President of the European Commission, the leaders of the European Council met in Milan 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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