On the 9th of May 2018, we celebrate the European Union. On this day, it was 68 years ago that Robert Schuman, the Luxembourg-borne French foreign minister presented a declaration that would become one of the foundations of the European Union. Together with Jean Monnet, he would draw up the Schuman-Plan for a United Europe with lasting peace.
In 1950, the nations of Europe were still struggling to overcome the devastation wrought by World War II, which had ended 5 years earlier. Determined to prevent another such terrible war, European governments concluded that pooling coal and steel production would – in the words of the Declaration – make war between historic rivals France and Germany "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible".
It was thought – correctly – that merging of economic interests would help raise standards of living and be the first step towards a more united Europe. The European Coal and Steel Community (founding members: France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) was the first of a series of supranational European institutions that would ultimately become today's "European Union". Membership of the ECSC was open to other countries.
The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace.