The Schuman Declaration of May 1950: Paving the Path for a United Europe

9 countries in Europe

World peace is a treasure that must be protected at all costs. However, in order to secure it, we must be willing to invest in creative efforts commensurate with the threats that endanger it. Recognizing the indispensable role that a united and organized Europe can play in the advancement of civilization and the preservation of peaceful relations, France has long championed the cause of European unity with the ultimate aim of promoting peace.

The road to a united Europe cannot be traversed in a single stride or guided by a single plan. It must be built gradually, through concrete achievements that establish a de facto solidarity amongst the nations. And so, the first and foremost challenge is to overcome the historical enmity between France and Germany, as the successful collaboration between these two countries will lay the foundation for the larger European project.

With this objective in mind, the French Government proposes the immediate establishment of a common High Authority, under which the combined production of coal and steel by France and Germany will be placed. This authority will operate within an organization that is open to the participation of other European countries. By pooling their resources and expertise in coal and steel production, France and Germany can create common foundations for economic development, marking the initial step towards the federation of Europe. Additionally, this collaboration will transform regions that have long been associated with the production of weapons of war, turning them into beacons of peace.

The true power of this solidarity in production lies in its ability to render the prospect of war between France and Germany not just inconceivable, but materially impossible. By establishing a robust and inclusive production unit, which welcomes the participation of all willing countries, Europe can provide its member nations with the essential elements of industrial production on equal terms. This will serve as a solid basis for their economic integration.

The surplus production resulting from this collaboration will be offered to the world, without any distinction or exception, in order to raise living standards and contribute to peaceful achievements. Moreover, with increased resources, Europe will be better equipped to address one of its crucial tasks: the development of the African continent. Through the fusion of interests facilitated by this common economic system, long-standing antagonism between countries may be gradually replaced by a more profound and extensive sense of community.

By harmonizing coal and steel production and establishing a new High Authority with binding decisions for France, Germany, and other member countries, this proposal paves the way for the first tangible building block of a European federation – an essential prerequisite for the preservation of peace.

To bring these objectives to fruition, the French Government is ready to engage in negotiations based on the following principles:

  • The common High Authority will be responsible for modernizing and improving the quality of production, ensuring equal supply of coal and steel to the French, German, and other member markets, collectively developing exports to non-member countries, and advancing the living conditions of workers in these industries.
  • Transitional measures, such as implementing a production and investment plan, establishing mechanisms to equate prices, and creating a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production, will be introduced to account for the diverse starting conditions of member countries.
  • Customs duties on the movement of coal and steel between member countries will be abolished immediately, and differential transportation rates will not impede their exchange. Over time, conditions conducive to the rational distribution of production at peak efficiency levels will naturally emerge.
  • In stark contrast to international cartels that tend to stifle competition and perpetuate high profits at the expense of national markets, this organization will foster market integration and promote expanded production.

The fundamental principles and commitments outlined above will culminate in a treaty signed by the participating states, subject to ratification by their respective parliaments. The negotiations necessary to finalize the specifics of the proposed actions will be supported by an arbitrator appointed through mutual agreement. The arbitrator’s role will be to ensure that the agreements align with the established principles and, in the event of a deadlock, to determine an appropriate solution.

The High Authority tasked with managing this initiative will consist of independent individuals appointed by the governments, providing equal representation for all. A chairman will be selected through mutual agreement among the participating governments. The decisions of the Authority will be enforceable in France, Germany, and other member countries, while mechanisms for appealing against these decisions will also be established.

To foster transparency and accountability, a representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the High Authority. This representative will be tasked with delivering semi-annual public reports to the United Nations, shedding light on the workings of the new organization, with a particular emphasis on the preservation of its objectives.

It is important to note that the establishment of the High Authority in no way precludes the possibility of different forms of enterprise ownership. In carrying out its mandate, the High Authority will take into account the authority previously conferred upon the International Ruhr Authority and the ongoing obligations placed on Germany.

The Schuman Declaration of May 1950 laid the groundwork for a united Europe, emphasizing the vital role of economic integration in fostering peace and prosperity. The proposal outlined in this declaration sets the stage for a future characterized by collective achievements, harmonious cooperation, and a shared commitment to lasting peace.

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