chapter  1
27 Pages

Birth, childhood and adolescence

On the afternoon of 9 May 1950 Robert Schuman, born in Luxembourg and an auxiliary with the German army during World War I, stepped as Foreign Minister of France into the Salon de 1’Horloge at the Quai d’Orsay and asserted: ‘It is no longer the moment for vain words, but for a bold act – a constructive act.’ With these words he launched, with the offer to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) specifically and to any other European state that so wished, the idea of pooling its resources of coal and steel in a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) (McAllister 1975: 177; Monnet 1978: 304). Unbeknown to anyone at the time, this was to become the first of three ‘European communities’ – together with the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).