Today is the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the Schuman Declaration, which was originally presented by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950.
The Declaration proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) between France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, to enable these countries to pool their coal and steel production. This was the first of a series of European institutions that have become today’s “European Union”.
Commemorating this milestone in Europe’s history, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in a You Tube broadcast: “70 years after the Schuman declaration, Europe faces a crisis which makes standing together more important than ever. Today we remember how Europeans made history in 1950 and pay tribute to those who are making history today.”
Recorded statements were also broadcast through social media by the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, and by EU Council President Charles Michel.
Sassoli has urged a “rebuild” of the EU. “The words with which Robert Schuman began his declaration on 9 May, 70 years ago have never sounded as topical as they do today. Solidarity, equality, equal opportunities for everyone, these were the words which ran like a thread through an address which laid the foundations for the construction of the future European Union,” Sassoli said.
“The only thing that can save us from the current crisis and enable us to restore our economies and protect our citizens is acceptance of the need for a common response.”
“We will need to be able to mobilise huge volumes of resources so that an economy which has come to a halt can be kick-started. And we will need to do so quickly, because citizens and businesses cannot wait.”
“It is in times of hardship that we must find the courage and the resources to make a new start. Now it is our generation that is being asked to summon up the same courage as the Founding Fathers, to focus on the common future of that project, which so many the world over view as an example of peace, solidarity and prosperity.”
“If there is one thing that this health crisis has shown our citizens it is that Europe already has a great resource. That great resource is its civil society, I am talking about the women, men, boys and girls who have rolled up their sleeves and offered to help those in need.”
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) called for more unity and solidarity in fight against coronavirus pandemic. The Committee said that unity and solidarity among EU Member States are key to facing the coronavirus pandemic.
In a video especially broadcast for its first ever “virtual” Europe Day the Committee underlines that only by being united can we stay strong and life can return to normal. No government can possibly think to solve such a crisis alone and all Member States must come together to support each other. EESC president Luca Jahier said that the European Union had to be daring, show solidarity towards its Members States, and offer a clear vision for the future, especially in times of crisis.
This weekend several EU Member States are taking their first tentative steps to emerge from lockdown, and starting the job of reopening their economies. Europe now faces an unprecedented challenge to recover from the current crisis, but also a tremendous opportunity to develop a better and greener society. The legacy of Robert Schuman is more important than ever, and his memory inspires hope that together we will build a better future.