On May 9th, 1950, Robert Schuman, a French statesman and visionary European, gave a speech soon to be known as "the Schuman Declaration". This event determined Europe's future and is considered as the birth of actual functional European integration; a "Europe Day" is even celebrated on each May 9. However, Schuman's contribution to Europe isn't limited to the sole Schuman Declaration. How exactly did Robert Schuman contribute to European integration? And why did Schuman choose to take up the European cause? Schuman's parents were born a few miles apart, although separated by the French-Luxembourgian border. Schuman's father, Jean-Pierre Schuman, was born in Moselle, from a family of cultivators that owned a farm spread across the border. Schuman's father describes himself as being a "Lothringer," a Lorraine inhabitant. Robert Schuman's mother, Eugenie Duren, spent her early youth in Kruth, a small village in Alsace. This is where she married Jean-Pierre Schuman; the couple later settled in Clausen, a neighbourhood close to the capital of Luxemburg.
[...] Robert Schuman was also one of the only ones to ponder what the ECSC should be and do in the wake of a change in the international climate. Schuman also had to face the French steelworkers' opposition, as they thought the ECSC would profit the Ruhr more than it would benefit French regions. Robert Schuman is often seen as merely the conceptual founder of the European Coal and Steel Community, as people often tend to forget he worked full-time for years to make sure his idea became reality and that this passage from abstract to effective would be as smooth as possible. [...]
[...] At the age of 26, Robert Schuman became a lawyer in Alsace-Lorraine. He was one of the first “Lothringer” to settle as a lawyer in annexed Lorraine. At that time of his life, Schuman started getting involved in an ultra-catholic corporation named Unitas. Robert Schuman achieved membership in 1904; a Unitas membership is designed to be lifelong, which shows how firm Robert Schuman's religious convictions were. During his early career, although he didn't take up any political cause, Schuman became extremely active as a Catholic militant. [...]
[...] This was a bold move in regard of the common distrust towards Germany and of the importance of coal and steel for economy at the time. The European Coal and Steel Community was to exclude Eastern European countries, which were part of the Soviet Block; Schuman didn't want to include Great-Britain and Scandinavian countries in the process either, as these had shown contempt towards European integration in the past. European construction was to be a continental, Rhine-centred matter. France led a cooperation and integration process focused on the Franco-German alliance, the “rapprochement”, which made Konrad Adenauer declare about the Schuman Plan: “that's our breakthrough”. [...]
[...] The EEC became the EU in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty. Though the ECSC seemed like a limited union (since it only dealt with coal and steel), it set the grounds for further integration, just like Schuman had foreseen, involving the creation of a common currency in 1999, the extension of free- trade, and even an attempt at political integration, with the 2005 European Constitution project, which failed, once again because of French rejection. Conclusion Robert Schuman is truly a Founding Father of Europe, as he is [...]
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