Luxembourg's commitment to a possible union with neighbouring countries started in the 1950s. Luxembourg was very interested when Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister, proposed in 1950 to bring the production of coal and steel from Germany and France under a common High Authority, independent of governments and capable of imposing its decisions.
Robert Schuman, a Luxembourger by birth
Robert Schuman was born in 1886 in the Luxembourg suburb of Clausen. He received his A-Levels in 1903 at the Athénée de Luxembourg highschool. It is no coincidence that his birthplace today houses the Robert Schuman Centre for European Studies and Research.
Schuman’s personality was strongly influenced by his origins. The son of a Lorraine customs officer of German nationality and a Luxembourg mother, his mother tongue was Luxembourgish. Without a doubt, the combination of Lëtzebuergesch, German and French influences motivated him to launch a plan that was to culminate in the creation of the first European Community. Like other founding fathers of Europe, he came from a border region and, having witnessed two world wars devastate half the European continent, was determined to prevent France and Germany from entering into armed conflict ever again. The border region was never to witness the passage of armies again.
The Schuman Plan
On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman, inspired by a plan drawn up by Jean Monnet, suggested to the German chancellor Konrad Adenauer the establishment of a supranational authority that would be competent in the field of heavy industry. While this plan focused on two specific sectors of the economy, its main purpose was political. Indeed, its objective was to place a permanent obstacle in the path of any state intent on taking advantage of its coal and steel resources to secretly rearm and thus constitute a new threat. Nevertheless, M. Schuman was aware of the construction of a unified Europe was going to take time: 'Europe will not be made all at once'.
The founding members of the European Community were France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The first European Community was called 'Schuman Plan' for some, 'ECSC' for others. A Council of Ministers responsible for representing national interests was installed. The Common Assembly of the ECSC was in control of the High Authority, which later became the European Commission. The Council of Ministers remained what it was. As for the Common Assembly, it became the European Parliament, whose members have been elected by direct universal suffrage since 1979.