The Treaty of Paris established the European Coal and Steel Community on 18 April 1951. Signed by our countries, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, this treaty created a common market for coal and steel.
On that day in Paris, our six countries took the simple and visionary path of cooperation to rebuild a continent that had been wounded and broken by six years of the worst armed conflict that the world had ever seen.
Who better than Robert Schuman could express the meaning behind the signing of this treaty, in his declaration in the Salon de l’Horloge: a new method to achieve an ideal of peace and prosperity. “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. The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”
This method and ideal continue to inspire us today.
Coal and steel, which were key to the reconstruction and pacification of Europe in 1951, have given way to the matter of the impact of these raw materials on the environment and climate. As a source of energy, coal will gradually disappear from the European Union, to enable it to achieve climate neutrality in 2050. Steel, meanwhile, remains an essential component of European industry; it is still the cornerstone of our prosperity and we must produce it in a greener, more sustainable way, for example by using green hydrogen.
Six decades after the creation of the ECSC, it was in Paris, again, the historic global climate agreement was sealed. This is why, 70 years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, we find ourselves in the same spot where it was signed, in the Salon de l’Horloge at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The time that has passed has strengthened our Europe; it has also made the climate emergency more urgent. The time has come to build this future by drawing energy from this heritage that guides us.
In a few weeks, the European Commission will present its legislative proposals to implement the European Green Deal: we call on it today to show ambition and consistency, the sign of a Europe that is ambitious on climate, equitable and inclusive with its members, cooperative with its partners, sovereign in its choices and a pioneer of international climate and energy diplomacy. We must seize this opportunity to modernize our economies now.
That is why we want the Commission to work on a proposal for a carbon border adjustment mechanism that ensures that the EU’s policies are environmentally sound and avoids carbon leakage, in a way that is compatible with WTO rules.
Because at a time when, through the European budget and the recovery plan, we can invest massively in the ecological transition, we must seize the opportunity to modernize our economies without being penalized by a race to the bottom in terms of the environment.
Energy, a common thread linking two eras of reconstruction, is key to our union. Yesterday, it underpinned reconciliation and the sharing of key resources of a flourishing industry in the aftermath of a devastating war. Today, it is a symbol of our climate concerns, our sovereignty and the projects of our young people: a symbol of a European ambition to once more build together, as a Europe of twenty-seven.