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Walter Hallstein: a diplomatic force propelling swift European integration

The common market has the goal of unifying Europe politically.

Walter Hallstein

Life and times

Hallstein approached his job as Commission President with the same commitment to European unity and the specialised knowledge and experience in the field that had inspired Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to appoint him as head of the German delegation at the Schuman Conference on the forming of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950. These qualities among others served him well throughout his 9-year presidency, which ran from 1958 to 1967.

A vision for Europe

Hallstein was a staunch proponent of advancing European unity through the forming of a European Economic Community. The first steps towards this economic integration enabling people, services and goods to move freely were taken during the Messina Conference in 1955.

Although Hallstein initially wanted this integration to be all-encompassing and achieved as quickly as possible, the political realities of the time helped him recognise that a gradual fusing together of Member State markets would benefit everyone the most.

In 1958, the Treaty of Rome came into force and Hallstein was chosen as the first President of the Commission of the European Economic Community.

Walter Hallstein speaking on 2 March 1953 in Strasbourg


More about Walter Hallstein’s life, work and contribution to the European project