Robert Schuman and the beginnings of the European Union Brief story of Robert Schuman, architect and founding father of the European Union

The beginnings of the European Union we know today date back to the 1950s. Luxembourg was very interested when Robert Schuman, French Foreign Affairs Minister, proposed in 1950 to bring the production of coal and steel from Germany and France under a common High Authority and independent of governments.

Robert Schuman, a Luxembourger by birth

Robert Schuman was born in Luxembourg in 1886. His father was a customs officer from Lorraine of German nationality and his mother was Luxembourger. 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 Europe, was determined to prevent France and Germany from entering into armed conflict ever again. In fact, the region never witnessed 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. Its objective was to place a permanent obstacle in the path of any state intent on taking advantage of its coal and steel resources in order to rearm. Nevertheless, Robert Schuman was aware that the construction of a unified Europe would 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 the 'Schuman Plan' for some, 'ECSC' (European Coal and Steel Community) for others.

Europe Day

Europe Day is celebrated on 9th May  in the member states of the European Union (EU) to commemorate the Schuman Declaration of 9 May. Since 2019, this day is celebrated doubly in  Luxembourg. Indeed, on 27 March, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously adopted the declaration of 9 May as an official holiday. While showing its commitment to the project of fraternity and solidarity that the EU represents, Luxembourg is taking a pioneering  role: to date, it is the only Member State to have instituted this day as an official holiday.