On May 9, 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman
announced a plan, conceived by French businessman-turned-advisor, Jean Monnet.
To control the forces of war, Monnet proposed pooling European coal and steel
production under a common authority.
Declaration was regarded as the first step towards achieving a united Europe
- an ideal that in the past had been pursued only by force. Belgium, the
Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands accepted the
French proposal, and signed the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)
Treaty in Paris on April 18, 1951.
The Six set up the
ECSC High Authority, to which member governments transferred portions of their
sovereign powers. The ECSC was so successful that coal and steel trade between
the Six increased by 129 percent in the first five years.
Encouraged by the
success of the ECSC, the Six tried to pursue integration in the military and
political fields. When these were derailed following rejection by the French
Parliament in 1954, European leaders decided to first continue the unification
of Europe on the economic front alone. At an historic meeting in Messina,
Italy, in June 1955, the project to create a common market was
launched. Two treaties were negotiated to establish:
A European Economic
Community (EEC) to merge separate national markets into a single market
that would ensure the free movement of goods, people, capital and services with
a wide measure of common economic policies, and a European Atomic Energy
Community (EAEC or Euratom) to further the use of nuclear energy for peaceful
purposes. The Six signed the treaties creating these two Communities on March
25, 1957 in Rome. Often referred to as the Rome Treaties, they
were ratified the same year and came into force in January 1958.