70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration. 9 May 1950

Robert Schuman delivering his declaration in the Salon de l'Horloge in the French Foreign Ministry building at Quai d'Orsay in Paris on 9 May 1950 © European Union, 2020

On 9 May 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman made a speech in Paris that would change the destiny of our continent. There is no doubt that this 70th anniversary is a great opportunity to celebrate the initiative that turned the European dream into a practical reality.

Robert Schuman was dissatisfied with the slow pace of progress towards a united Europe after the Second World War. So in 1950 he chose a revolutionary approach in proposing not only to combine the coal and steel industries under a common regime, but also to set up a supranational High Authority to administer the two strategically important industries around a Franco-German hub.

Jean Monnet drafted the lion's share of the Schuman Declaration, which suggested that pooling the coal and steel industries would be the first stage in a wider integration process ultimately resulting in a 'European federation'. With a view to safeguarding peace, the Schuman Plan also sought to make war between Europeans not only unthinkable but also materially impossible. The Schuman Declaration was therefore a basis for negotiations, the outcome of which, several months later, was the European Coal and Steel Community.

With the Cold War in full swing and in the face of opposition from various quarters, achieving a result like that took courage and audacity.

Beyond the economic and social issues, the Schuman Plan also sought to lay the foundations for institutions to help map out a shared destiny. The ECSC Treaty, which entered into force in July 1952, therefore established a Common Assembly, a symbol of a nascent Europe, which represented the peoples of the States of the Community. It was the forerunner of our European Parliament.
So it is an excellent time to stage an exhibition like this one. With the European Union facing a number of challenges, let us hope that this slice of history can remind visitors and younger generations of Europeans just how important the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 was.

Enjoy the exhibition!

David Sassoli
President of the European Parliament


The Archives of the European Parliament

Robert Schuman Building
Place de l'Europe
L-2929 Luxembourg