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Robert Schuman: architect of the European integration project

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.

Robert Schuman

Life and times

Born a German citizen in Luxembourg, Schuman became French in 1919 when the region of Alsace-Lorraine, where he lived, was returned to France. During the Second World War, French leader-in-exile Charles de Gaulle asked Schuman to go to London to serve in his government.

After the war, he returned to national politics in a series of top-level posts, and became a key negotiator of major treaties and initiatives such as the Council of Europe, the Marshall Plan and NATO – all aimed at increased cooperation within the western alliance and uniting Europe.

A vision for Europe

In cooperation with Jean Monnet, he drew up the internationally renowned Schuman Plan. This was published on 9 May 1950, the date now regarded as the birth of the European Union and celebrated each year as ‘Europe Day’ In the accompanying speech, he proposed joint control of coal and steel production, the most important materials for the armaments industry. The basic idea was that those without control over coal and steel production would not be able to fight a war.

Robert Schuman makes his declaration on 9 May 1950 in Paris

Publications

More about Robert Schuman’s life, work and contribution to the European project

Further information