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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration
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The 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration
Brussels, 8 May 2010
Sixty years ago to the day, the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman read a declaration to the international press in Paris, calling on France, Germany and other European countries to pool their coal and steel production as "the first concrete foundation of a European federation".
Only five years after the end of the most dreadful conflict in Europe, on 9 May 1950, he proposed the creation of a supranational European institution, to take charge of the coal and steel industry, the very sector which had made the war possible. The countries which he called upon had almost destroyed each other, and reconciliation was a brave thing to imagine at that stage.
Robert Schuman made the first move towards the creation of what we now know as the European Union. While Europe as such had existed for centuries, the elements which united it, in the absence of rules and institutions, had in the past been insufficient to prevent the most appalling tragedies.
The integration of the European Union has progressed ever since. We have achieved much. Citizens of the EU have lived in peace for the past 65 years, in stable democracies and under the rule of law. We have created a single market, a single currency, the possibility to move across countries without border controls and a high level of cohesion between regions. The Union has expanded from six to 27 Member States, and countries that used to be on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain are now members of the Union. Such developments were unthinkable for a very long time.
But more needs to be done. We need to face the challenges and demands of the 21st century. Europe is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. And this year's European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion reminds us that there are still citizens who do not share in the wealth that Europe has created.
At a time when many Europeans have lost their jobs and are anxious about the future, the EU is leading the way to encourage growth, jobs and prosperity for its citizens. Europe can succeed if it acts collectively, as a Union. The Commission is pushing hard to get Member States around the table to agree on policies that will create an area of sustainable growth. The Europe 2020 strategy put forward by the Commission earlier this year sets out our vision of Europe's social market economy for the 21st century, fostering new sources of growth. It shows how the EU can emerge from the crisis stronger, and how it can be turned into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.
Robert Schuman was a man of foresight and vision. He knew that "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."