Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (1886-1963) was a French politician whose main merit is to be one of the founding fathers of the European Union. He served as minister of foreign affairs for the French government from 1948 to 1952. He was convinced that, in order to create a cohesive and united Europe, the reconciliation of the two Germanys was a necessity.
Together with Jean Monnet, he elaborated the so-called “Schuman plan” in 1950. Its aim was to create a “single authority to control the production of coal and steel in France and West Germany (now Germany), to be opened for membership to other European countries”. This took concrete form in the foundation of the ECSC (the European Coal and Steel Community) in 1951 whose main aim was to create an authority that had the power of controlling the main materials for the defense industry, thus reducing the risk of a new war. The ECSC laid the groundwork for the founding of the European Economic Community in 1958.
Of great significance is the speech Schuman made in 1950, better known as Schuman Declaration. It clarifies the objective sought to be achieved by the founding father: “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”. […] “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”.