Declaration of 9 May 1950

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Declaration of 9 May 1950

This is the full text of the proposal, which was presented by the French foreign minister Robert Schuman and which led to the creation of what is now the European Union

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.
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. 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 taken must in the first place 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 organization 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.
This production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements.
In this way, there will be realized simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.
By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.
To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases.
The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.
To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more national distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.
In contrast to international cartels, which tend to impose restrictive practices on distribution and the exploitation of national markets, and to maintain high profits, the organization will ensure the fusion of markets and the expansion of production.
The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform with the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted.
The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority's decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.
A representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the Authority, and will be instructed to make a public report to the United Nations twice yearly, giving an account of the working of the new organization, particularly as concerns the safeguarding of its objectives.
The institution of the High Authority will in no way prejudge the methods of ownership of enterprises. In the exercise of its functions, the common High Authority will take into account the powers conferred upon the International Ruhr Authority and the obligations of all kinds imposed upon Germany, so long as these remain in force.

The European Emblem

In 1986, the European Council adopted the flag that has become the emblem of the European Union.

Against the background of blue sky, twelve golden stars form a circle, representing the union of the peoples of Europe. The number of stars is fixed, twelve being the symbol of perfection and unity.
On an azure field a circle of twelve golden mullets, their points not touching.

Europe Day, 9 May

On the 9th of May 1950, Robert Schuman presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. This proposal, known as the "Schuman declaration", is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union.

Today, the 9th of May has become a European symbol (Europe Day) which along with the emblem and the anthem, identifies the political entity of the European Union.
Europe Day is the occasion for activities and festivities that bring Europe closer to its citizens and peoples of the Union closer to one another.
The Member States

The European Union (EU) is the result of a process of cooperation and integration which began in 1951 between six countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands).

After nearly fifty years, with four waves of accessions (1973: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom; 1981: Greece; 1986: Spain and Portugal; 1995: Austria, Finland and Sweden), the EU today has fifteen Member States and is preparing for its fifth enlargement, this time towards Eastern and Southern Europe.

The European Union's mission is to organize relations between the Member States and between their peoples in a coherent manner and on the basis of solidarity.

The main objectives are:
- to promote economic and social progress (the single market was established in 1993; the single currency was launched in 1999);
- to assert the identity of the European Union on the international scene (through European humanitarian aid to non-EU countries, common foreign and security policy, action in international crises; common positions within international organizations);
- to introduce European citizenship (which does not replace national citizenship but complements it and confers a number of civil and politic rights on European citizens);
- to develop an area of freedom, security and justice (linked to the operation of the internal market and more particularly the freedom of movement of persons);
- to maintain and build on established EU law (all the legislation adopted by the European institutions, together with the founding treaties).

The European Union is built on an institutional system which is the only one of its kind in the world.

The Member States delegate sovereignty for certain matters to independent institutions which represent the interests of the Union as a whole, its member countries and its citizens. The Commission traditionally upholds the interests of the Union as a whole, while each national government is represented within the Council, and the European Parliament is directly elected by citizens. Democracy and the rule of law are therefore the cornerstones of the structure.

This "institutional triangle" is flanked by two other institutions: the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors. A further five bodies make the system complete.

The institutions

There are five institutions involved in running the European Union:

the European Parliament (elected by the peoples of the Member States),

the Council (representing the governments of the Member States),

the Commission (the executive and the body having the right to initiate legislation),

the Court of Justice (ensuring compliance with the law),

the Court of Auditors (responsible for auditing the accounts).
These institutions are supported by other bodies:

the Economic and Social Committee and

the Committee of the Regions (advisory bodies which help to ensure that the positions of the EU's various economic and social categories and regions respectively are taken into account),

the European Ombudsman (dealing with complaints from citizens concerning maladministration at European level),

the European Investment Bank (EU financial institution) and the European Central Bank (responsible for monetary policy in the euro-area).

European Parliament

Elected every five years by direct universal suffrage, the European Parliament is the expression of the democratic will of the Union's 374 million citizens. Brought together within pan-European political groups, the major political parties operating in the Member States are represented.

Parliament has three essential functions:

  1. It shares with the Council the power to legislate, i.e. to adopt European laws (directives, regulations, decisions). Its involvement in the legislative process helps to guarantee the democratic legitimacy of the texts adopted;

  2. It shares budgetary authority with the Council, and can therefore influence EU spending. At the end of the procedure, it adopts the budget in its entirety;

  3. It exercises democratic supervision over the Commission. It approves the nomination of Commissioners and has the right to censure the Commission. It also exercises political supervision over all the institutions.

Council of the European Union

The Council is the EU's main decision-making body. It is the embodiment of the Member States, whose representatives it brings together regularly at ministerial level. According to the matters on the agenda, the Council meets in different compositions: foreign affairs, finance, education, telecommunications, etc.

The Council has a number of key responsibilities:

  1. It is the Union's legislative body; for a wide range of EU issues, it exercises that legislative power in co-decision with the European Parliament;

  2. It coordinates the broad economic policies of the Member States;

  3. It concludes, on behalf of the EU, international agreements with one or more States or international organisations;

  4. It shares budgetary authority with Parliament;

  5. It takes the decisions necessary for framing and implementing the common foreign and security policy, on the basis of general guidelines established by the European Council;

  6. It coordinates the activities of Member States and adopts measures in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

European Commission

The European Commission embodies and upholds the general interest of the Union. The President and Members of the Commission are appointed by the Member States after they have been approved by the European Parliament.

The Commission is the driving force in the Union's institutional system:

  1. It has the right to initiate draft legislation and therefore presents legislative proposals to Parliament and the Council;

  2. As the Union's executive body, it is responsible for implementing the European legislation (directives, regulations, decisions), budget and programmes adopted by Parliament and the Council;

  3. It acts as guardian of the Treaties and, together with the Court of Justice, ensures that Community law is properly applied;

  4. It represents the Union on the international stage and negotiates international agreements, chiefly in the field of trade and cooperation.

Court of Justice

The Court of Justice ensures that Community law is uniformly interpreted and effectively applied. It has jurisdiction in disputes involving Member States, EU institutions, businesses and individuals. A Court of First Instance has been attached to it since 1989.

Court of Auditors

The Court of Auditors checks that all the Union's revenue has been received and all its expenditure incurred in a lawful and regular manner and that financial management of the EU budget has been sound.

European Central Bank

The European Central Bank frames and implements European monetary policy; it conducts foreign exchange operations and ensures the smooth operation of payment systems.

European Economic and Social Committee

The European Economic and Social Committee represents the views and interests of organised civil society vis-à-vis the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. The Committee has to be consulted on matters relating to economic and social policy; it may also issue opinions on its own initiative on other matters which it considers to be important.

Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions ensures that regional and local identities and prerogatives are respected. It has to be consulted on matters concerning regional policy, the environment and education. It is composed of representatives of regional and local authorities.

European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union's financial institution. It finances investment projects which contribute to the balanced development of the Union.
The Member States of the European Union

The Member States of the European Union are currently fifteen. These are:

Key issues

Terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in the United States

Since the attacks of 11 September, the European Union has acted on all fronts and in complete solidarity with the government of the United States and the American people, in the international campaign to eradicate terrorism. The European Union's contribution to areas such as Police and Judicial Cooperation, Emergency preparedness, Economic and Financial Affairs, Air Transport Security, Humanitarian Aid and External Relations complements the efforts which individual countries are making

Debate on the future of Europe

The debate on the future of Europe launched at the Nice European Council forms part of a process of reflection to prepare an intergovernmental conference in 2004 on reforming the Treaties. The debate, which takes several different forms, will bring together political, academic and professional circles, civil society and ordinary members of the public and will focus on crucial issues for the future of the European Union. A European forum, the "Futurum" internet site will receive contributions to the debate and will facilitate access to it by all participants. It will provide a permanent information resource for the debate and a gateway to all related initiatives on the internet. "Futurum" also has a discussion forum.


On 1 January 2002 the new euro banknotes and coins will be put into circulation. After a brief period of dual circulation, the old national banknotes and coins are due to be withdrawn by 28 February 2002 at the latest. Today, the "euro area" comprises twelve Member States of the European Union. Since 1 January 1999, the euro has been used by consumers, retailers, companies and public bodies in non-cash form. It was introduced with a fixed conversion rate against the national currencies of the participating states.

Treaty of Nice

At the Nice European Council of 7-9 December 2000, the Heads of State and Government of the 15 Member States concluded the Intergovernmental Conference on institutional reform by reaching agreement on the draft of a new treaty. This will amend the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and the Protocol on Enlargement of the European Union. Before it enters into force, the new Treaty must be ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional arrangements. It should be noted that Ireland voted against the Nice Treaty in the referendum of 7 June 2001.

Enlarging the EU

The process of enlargement of the European Union was launched on 30 March 1998. Negotiations are currently being held with the following twelve applicants: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The basic principle of the negotiations is that all the applicant countries must accept existing EU law.

World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The Doha Ministerial Conference (9 - 14 November 2001) launched a new round of trade negotiations which cover industrial and agricultural products, services and a number of trade-related issues such as intellectual property and the environment. It was also decided that negotiations would include topics such as investment, competition, trade facilitation and transparency of public procurement. The specific requirements of developing countries will be central to all negotiations

Charter of Fundamental Rights

The European Council in Nice (7-9 December 2000) welcomed the joint proclamation, by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, combining in a single text the civil, political, economic, social and societal rights hitherto laid down in a variety of international, European or national sources. The European Council would like to see the Charter disseminated as widely as possible amongst the Union's citizens. The question of the Charter's force will be considered later.


Following the introduction of a new title on employment in the Amsterdam Treaty, at the Luxembourg jobs summit in November 1997 the Member States decided on a European strategy for employment based on four main pillars: employability, entrepreneurship, adaptability and equality of opportunity. Each year the Labour and Social Affairs Council adopts a set of guidelines which each Member State must implement under its National Action Plan (NAP).

White paper on European governance

The promotion of new forms of governance is one of the European Commission's strategic priorities. "Governance" is the body of rules, procedures and practices which affect the way power is exercised at European level. The White Paper contains a series of recommendations on ways of strengthening democracy in Europe and increasing the legitimacy of the institutions. A consultation process on the White Paper's proposals has begun and its due to last until the end of March 2002.

The European Union's prime concern is to place individuals and their interests at the heart of European integration. The European institutions regard respect for fundamental rights as a general principle of European law and have developed legislation on freedom of movement within the European Union.

With the Treaty of Maastricht, the link between the citizens in the Member States and the European Union became more direct, with the creation of the concept of European citizenship, which introduced a series of civil and political rights. These rights were further developed by the Treaty of Amsterdam, which also specified the link between national citizenship and European citizenship

Fundamental rights

The European Union has always affirmed its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and has explicitly confirmed the Union's attachment to fundamental social rights. The Amsterdam Treaty has established procedures intended to secure their protection.

The Treaty stresses the respect of the fundamental rights, especially those guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), adopted in Rome in 1950 by the members of the Council of Europe. The Preamble of the European Community Treaty refers to the fundamental social rights by pointing to the 1961 European Social Charter (Council of Europe) and the 1989 Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers.

According to the Treaty, the EU has the power to take appropriate action to combat discrimination. The possible grounds of intervention are discrimination based on sex, race or ethnic origin, religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. In this regard the EU has implemented policies to achieve equal opportunities for women and men.

The Amsterdam Treaty has formally empowered the European Court of Justice to ensure the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms by the European Institutions.

The European Council in Nice (7-9 December 2000) welcomed the joint proclamation, by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, combining in a single text the civil, political, economic, social and societal rights hitherto laid down in a variety of international, European or national sources. The European Council would like to see the Charter disseminated as widely as possible amongst the Union's citizens. The question of the Charter's force will be considered later.

Rights relating to freedom of movement

Freedom of movement of persons is part of the broader concept of the single market, which also embraces three other freedoms: the free movement of capital, goods and services.

Even if initially the free movement of persons was mainly an economic matter, concerning only workers, the concept has gradually expanded to allow any citizen of the Union to move and stay freely within the Member States.

European citizenship rights

Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship" (Article 17 of the Treaty establishing the European Community).

In concrete terms European citizenship confers four specific rights on all nationals of EU Member States:

  • the right to move freely and to stay in the territory of Member States;

  • the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in local and European Parliament elections in the Member State of residence;

  • entitlement to protection, in a non-EU country in which a citizen's own Member State is not represented, by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any other Member State;

  • the right to petition the European Parliament and to apply to the European Ombudsman.

European integration is based on the three founding treaties:

  • the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which was signed in Paris and entered into force on 23 July 1952;

  • the Treaty establishing the European Community, which was signed in Rome and entered into force on 1 January 1958;

  • the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), which was signed in Rome and entered into force on 1 January 1958.

The founding treaties have been amended on several occasions, in particular when new Member States acceded in 1973, 1981, 1986 and 1995. There have also been three more far-reaching reforms bringing major institutional changes and introducing new areas of responsibility for the European institutions:

  • the Single European Act (SEA), which was signed in Luxembourg and The Hague and entered into force on 1 July 1987;

  • the Treaty on European Union, which was signed in Maastricht and entered into force on 1 November 1993;

  • the Treaty of Amsterdam, which entered into force on 1 May 1999.

The Treaty of Nice, agreed at the European Council on 7-9 December 2000 and signed on 26 February 2001, will amend the existing Treaties. It will enter into force once it has been ratified by the 15 Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures. The ratification process is already under way and will continue into 2002.

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