Friday 9 May 2008

Europe Day: Schuman declaration

The French foreign minister Robert Schuman made a proposal 9 May 1950, which led to the establishment of the first of the European communities, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Almost six decades later we have within view, through the Treaty of Lisbon, a unified European Union (EU) into which the European Community (EC) would melt.

The European Union is an ongoing effort, but despite its shortcomings it offers 500 million citizens and 27 member states the best hope for strengthened security and enhanced prosperity in an unpredictably globalising world.

On Europe Day, 9 May 2008, there is cause for each of us to think about the origins and the future of the peaceful and voluntary integration of our continent. Here is the text of the Schuman declaration:

“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. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, namely, the development of the African continent. In this way, there will be realised 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 rational 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.”

European Commission web page ‘Declaration of 9 May’


The Treaty of Lisbon is nowhere near a final answer to the challenges facing Europe, but a milestone on the road towards more fully developed European level democracy, security and prosperity.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Although my main writing dissecting the Treaty of Lisbon will continue on this blog, I decided to establish a new one in Finnish, called Eurooppaoikeus (European law), for occasional postings


  1. The European Union is an ongoing effort, but despite its shortcomings it offers 500 million citizens and 27 member states the best hope for strengthened security and enhanced prosperity in an unpredictably globalising world.

    You know that I disagree very very strongly with this statement. The best hope for strengthened security is nations working together for collective security through intergovernmental organisations like NATO, that has prevented war in Europe for more than 50 years; where the people feel involved and where they have real power through the ballot box.

    As people begin to feel more and more disenfranchised by the ruling elite of the EU about whom they can do nothing - they cannot be voted out, so I predict we will see increasing resentment at the interference in every aspect of their everyday lives. These are the type of resentments that eventually lead to civil strife and civil war. Just look elsewhere around the world where artificial borders have been forced upon groups of people who do not share a cultural identity and where they had no power at the voting box to remove the ruling elite. We are setting up the very worst, not "the best best hope for strengthened security and enhanced prosperity" for the peoples of Europe.

  2. Alfred the Ordinary,

    Thank you for your opinion.

    I find your belief in intergovernmental cooperation surprising. You mention NATO (an important organisation, in my view, too), but how credible is an alliance which is unable to accept a new member because one existing member state thinks that it has the wrong name (Macedonia)?

    Hardly a credible example of effective action, is it?

    Yes, the European Union is still in its infancy with regard to democratic governance, but the answer is, in my humble opinion, to reform the EU, not to dismantle it.

    Have you studied the recorded ratification votes in the 13 or 14 national parliaments until today?

    For me, national parlamentarians are hardly part of a ruling EU elite, although they contribute to the functioning of the Union.

  3. I find intergovernmental cooperation has many shortcomings but that brings us to the Monnet belief that intergovernmental organisations will never solve the problems of the world. Only supranational government can overcome global problems, if they have power over nations. I disagree with that view but understand that many believe that only a powerful, supranational UN or EU can solve world problems. Remove nation states and you remove the support their inhabitants had to the culture and identity of that nation state. Will they fight to the death for a supranational government, in the way they have for a nation, a supranational government for which they feel no affiliation and from which they are feeling increasingly alienated? I think not. I'm sure we will not agree on this.

    My real concern, as I expressed, is the democratic deficit in the EU. It is at its very core and I don't believe is reformable. That 13 or 14 national parliaments have voted in favour, also worries me as they vote in favour, while refusing their electorate referenda that they know they will loose. That is the 'we know best' mentality, that transference of sovereignty to this very undemocratic EU Elite is somehow safe. That the ex-national parliaments are democratic does not make the EU elite democratic, if that is your point.

    Yes, NATO has problems and not just with Macedonia, but is a one european army, with a very mixed cultural identity, really a better solution?

  4. Alfred the Ordinary,

    I think that the democratic deficit of the European Union is reformable, once the citizens of the EU and the member states realise that EU level matters require EU level democracy and scrutiny.

    In this context, an obdurate defence of intergovernmental practices and national scrutiny of European level legislation and action is unhelpful.

    Naturally, people are more attached to matters near to their daily lives, starting with themselves and their family.

    But for me citizenship of the EU is the essence of 'demos', all other definitions bearing a disturbing resemblance to "Blut und Boden" philosophies.

    In other words, towards giving EU citizens full rights through their elected parliament, according to the principles of representative democracy, in all matters within the EU's remit.

    The member states will continue to be the most important distributors of education, social services, health care and a plethora of other important public goods.

  5. In this context, an obdurate defence of intergovernmental practices and national scrutiny of European level legislation and action is unhelpful.

    Yes, unhelpful to those wishing to destroy the nation states. I do understand your position, and whilst I'm uncomfortable being compared to a Nazi doctrine, I am also able to look at both recent and distant history. In the UK we have enough trouble getting an agreed approach combining english, scottish and welsh viewpoints. The differences in culture between the UK and France, Germany and some others is a very much larger chasm to cross, far too large if history is any guide. Let us learn to work together as we have done through international agreements and in so doing build trust and relationships. Enforced rules alienate and do not lead to increased trust but the opposite as both history and time will tell.

    A citizen is a participatory member of a political community. Grolier

    I suppose your idea of participation of a citizen in the E.U. and my idea are rather different. I see a citizen as one who holds its government in fear. I see an E.U. that is slowly establishing regulations that will hold its citizens in fear.

  6. Alfred the Ordinary,

    If you dedicated your efforts to improving EU level democracy and transparency, you would have less to fear when your aim started to become a reality.

    Even in the best circumstances, progress can only be gradual. But look at the untidy, even unsavoury early days of British parliamentary democracy, in spite of its crucial role as a model around the world, even today.

    If, on the other hand, you want to find the right level of closeness, even for global and European problems, where do you stop?

    Why should English, Welsh and Scottish viewpoints be crammed together in Westminster?

    Why not each borough - rotten or not - or for that matter every individual, on its own?

    In my view, the important but difficult question is to find the right level of governance for different matters.

    If there are more levels than one (as there are, already), there will always be tensions, but my general view is that the European Union is too weak in the fundamental questions of security and prosperity in a globalising world, but too intrusive in details best left to other levels of governance or (often wisely) to citizens themselves.

  7. If you dedicated your efforts to improving EU level democracy and transparency, you would have less to fear when your aim started to become a reality.

    I have watched others, over decades, far far more able than I, try to improve EU level democracy and transparency. They have met with, at times, fierce opposition and even sacking. The EU Elite does not take kindly to criticism. Just look at the way it handled EU parliament protests about the handling of the referendum issue and the way MEP corruption is being investigated (not).

    I have watched others try to reform the CAP and the common fisheries policy, with almost zero success.

    I have come to the conclusion that the EU organisation is beyond reform, but worse, it actively resists reform. You might be content with the type of government that says one thing but does the opposite. It is alien to many of us in the UK. Our government is sliding towards this type of government but as yet, we expect it to do what it says, and generally it does.

    In my view, the important but difficult question is to find the right level of governance for different matters.

    Yes, but does this really mean supra-national government for some things? I draw the line at that, but I guess you feel that is necessary to achieve things on a global scale.

    You concentrate on the theory of the EU, and provide excellent information. I go from one level of disbelief to the next as I concentrate on the EU in practice, which is so very different from the theory.

    Just look at its maneuvering over a single seat in international financial bodies. We are told that there are loads of safeguards in the Lisbon treaty, but in practice, when the EU Elite want something to happen, they make sure that it does. Even the BBC's Mark Mardell, not known for his EU scepticism, commented on his blog:

    One [prescription] is that economic ministers should think more about their responsibilities to the bloc as a whole, and less of their national interest. In a phrase almost designed to give a delicious shiver to eurosceptics, the commission promises to "better exploit all instruments provided by the Lisbon treaty to promote broader economic policy coordination." One idea is to exclude extraneous chatter from mere nation states at the world's top tables. The commission will argue for a single seat in international financial bodies. I can't get any clarity but I presume they mean the IMF, the OECD, the World Bank and perhaps the G8. "At the moment we take up too many seats, too much space," says one official.

    Look at the EU’s rhetoric, its theory about helping poverty in Africa, and then look at what it actually does in practice. It destroys farmers through food dumping. It destroys the livelihoods of West African fishermen, who then become economic migrants to the EU. (I’ve commented in more depth at

    And this organisation is reformable? I take my hat off to you for your power of hope.

    You make interesting comments about the UK. For all its faults, that union works, and most citizens feel part of that union. If we split into the states of England, Scotland and Wales, I believe that it will be to the detriment of all three, but we seem to be going down that path.

  8. Alfred the Ordinary,

    It is good of you to put so much effort into explaining your views. I appreciate your civilised way to discuss these matters, too.

    Although I do not necessarily share your conclusions, I acknowledge that there is need for EU reform, and your arguments give me cause to think about some fundamental questions.

    One of the decisive factors, for me, to work on the assumption that reform is possible, is the probability that the EU might well exist long after me.

    If I remeber correctly, we have both expressed broadly similar views on the EU's agricultural and fisheries policies, both internally and in relation to the third world.

    You are right about certain defensive postures, which come all too easily. Whistleblowers have been hounded and MEPs' expenditure mismanaged,to name but a few examples.

    But, with regard to international financial institutions (and other organisations), I would see it as beneficial if the EU, more than today, would speak with one voice in the larger world. But I suppose that the UN Security Council is even harder to reform than the EU...

  9. ... the probability that the EU might well exist long after me

    I do not think so. I believe that it contains the seeds of its own destruction, a destruction that, sadly, will be very painful for all.

    I seem to have repeated previous arguments- I apologise for that.

    But, with regard to international financial institutions (and other organisations), I would see it as beneficial if the EU, more than today, would speak with one voice in the larger world.

    I would agree, if I trusted the Brussels government, but my trust has been completely destroyed. I now see that as the thin end of the wedge. Coordinated financial policy today, something else tomorrow - precident set - coordinated Foreign and security policy next. In that area my trust in the EU is below zero, if that were possible. Too many vested interests are pulling the strings.


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