On 9 May, the Member States of the European Union celebrate Europe Day. This date was chosen to mark the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, considered to be the founding act of the European Union and one of the symbols of Europe. On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman laid the first stone of a European organization essential to keeping the peace.
Europe Day was established at the European Council meeting in Milan in June 1985.
"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." Extract from Robert Schuman’s declaration on 9 May 1950
On 9 May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed to European countries the creation of an institution to jointly manage coal and steel resources. He made his declaration at the Quai d’Orsay, in the Clock Room (Salon de l’Horloge). It was symbolic in two ways:
- It meant uniting countries that had been enemies during the two world wars and overcoming long-standing grievances;
- It meant creating an organization open to the other willing European countries, as the starting point for European integration.
In his declaration, Robert Schuman set out his plan: “The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. […] In this way, there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.”
Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands answered his call, creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
Other “communities” were to follow along the same lines, such as the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, creating pan-European solidarities that formed the basis for today’s European Union.
Visit the Clock Room, where the Schuman Declaration was pronounced:
The European legacy of Robert Schuman, a historic reflection on the development of an integrated Europe
The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is publishing L’héritage européen de Robert Schuman : du fédéralisme à la souveraineté (The European Legacy of Robert Schuman: From Federalism to Sovereignty). This work presents current historical thought around Robert Schuman’s contribution to the creation and development of an integrated Europe, culminating in today’s European Union. The book draws on the French Diplomatic Archives and seeks to help a wide audience better understand the contribution of this eminent figure of the French Fourth Republic to the European project.
For the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950, here is a preview of the conclusion, written by Mr Vincent Muller of the Ministry’s Strategy, Analysis and Policy Planning Centre (CAPS) (in French).
For further information: