In 1945 Jean Monnet was appointed as Planning Commissioner in France. In this post he became responsible for economic reconstruction. He began working on a scheme that he eventually proposed to Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, in 1949. The Schuman Plan, as it became known, was the basis for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) that was established in 1952. It was agreed that the six countries that signed the Treaty of Paris, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany, would pool its coal and steel resources.
In 1958 the European Coal and Steel Community evolved into the European Economic Community (EEC). Under the ECC attempts were made to achieve harmonization. This included measures in areas such as indirect taxation, industrial regulation, agriculture, fisheries and monetary policies. The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) was introduced in 1962.
World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.
The contribution which an organised and living Europe can bring to civilisation 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. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.
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. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action which must be taken in the first place must concern these two countries.
With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point. It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organisation open to the participation of the other countries of Europe.
The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.
The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production
on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.
Blankenhorn handed me the letters in the cabinet room. One was a handwritten, personal letter by Robert Schuman. The other was an official covering letter for the project laid down in a memorandum which later became known as the Schuman Plan.
In essence Robert Schuman proposed to place the entire French and German production of coal and steel under a common High Authority within the framework of an organization that should be open to other European countries as well. Schuman explained that the pooling of coal and steel production would immediately provide for the first stage of a European federation, the immediate creation of a common basis for economic development, and for a comprehensive change in their development. The merger of the basic production of coal and steel and the establishment of an authority whose decisions would be binding for France, Germany, and the other member countries, would create the first firm foundations for the European federation which was indispensable for the preservation of peace.
In his personal letter to me Schuman wrote that the purpose of his proposal was not economic, but eminently political. In France there was a fear that once Germany had recovered, she would attack France. He could imagine that the corresponding fears might be present in Germany. Rearmament always showed first in an increased production of coal, iron, and steel. If an organization such as he was proposing were to be set up, it would enable each country to detect the first signs of rearmament, and would have an extraordinarily calming effect in France.
Schuman's plan corresponded entirely with the ideas I had been advocating for a long time concerning the integration of the key industries of Europe. I informed Robert Schuman at once that I accepted his proposal whole-heartedly.
I found that their attitude was governed entirely by political considerations. I believe there is a genuine desire on their part to reach agreement with France and with the other countries of Western Europe. I believe that in that desire the German government are genuine and I believe, too, that the German government would be prepared to make economic sacrifices in order to achieve those political results which they desire. I am convinced that, when the negotiations take place between the countries about the economic details, the German government will be prepared to make sacrifices ... I believe that these discussions would give us a chance of leading Germany into the way we want her to go. It was said long ago in the House that magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom. I appeal tonight to the government to follow that dictum, and to go into the Schuman Plan to develop Europe and to coordinate it in the way suggested.