Robert Schuman

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Robert Schuman
Robert Schuman-1929.jpg
Portrait of Robert Schuman, député from Moselle (1929).
Prime Minister of France
In office
24 November 1947 26 July 1948
President Vincent Auriol
Preceded by Paul Ramadier
Succeeded by André Marie
In office
5 September 1948 11 September 1948
President Vincent Auriol
Preceded by André Marie
Succeeded by Henri Queuille
President of the European Parliament
In office
19 March 1958 18 March 1960
Preceded by Hans Furler
Succeeded by Hans Furler
Personal details
Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman

29 June 1886
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Died4 September 1963(1963-09-04) (aged 77)
Scy-Chazelles, Lorraine, France
Political party Popular Republican Movement

Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (French:  [ʁɔbɛʁ ʃuman] ; 29 June 1886 4 September 1963) was a Luxembourg-born French statesman. Schuman was a Christian Democrat (MRP) and an independent political thinker and activist. Twice Prime Minister of France, a reformist Minister of Finance and a Foreign Minister, he was instrumental in building post-war European and trans-Atlantic institutions and was one of the founders of the European Union, the Council of Europe and NATO. [1] The 1964–1965 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour.

Luxembourg Grand duchy in western Europe

Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French, German, and the national language, Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.

Popular Republican Movement political party

The Popular Republican Movement was a Christian-democratic political party in France during the Fourth Republic. Its base was the Catholic vote and its leaders included Georges Bidault, Robert Schuman, Paul Coste-Floret, Pierre-Henri Teitgen and Pierre Pflimlin. It played a major role in forming governing coalitions, in emphasizing compromise and the middle ground, and in protecting against a return to extremism and political violence. It played an even more central role in foreign policy, having charge of the Foreign Office for ten years and launching plans for the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community. which grew into the European Union. Its voter base gradually dwindled in the 1950s and it had little power by 1954.

European Union Economic and political union of European states

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.


Early life

Robert Schuman's birthplace in Clausen, a suburb of Luxembourg City LUX Geburtshaus Robert Schuman KSG 1570 pK.jpg
Robert Schuman's birthplace in Clausen, a suburb of Luxembourg City

Schuman was born in June 1886, in Clausen, Luxembourg, having his father's then German nationality. His father, Jean-Pierre Schuman (d.1900), who was a native of Lorraine and was born a Frenchman, became German when Lorraine was annexed by Germany in 1871, before he left to settle in Luxembourg, not far from his native village of Evrange. Schuman's mother (d. 1911) was a Luxembourger. Schuman's secondary schooling from 1896 to 1903 was at Athénée de Luxembourg, followed in 1904 by the Lycée impérial in Metz. From 1904 to 1910 he studied law, economics, political philosophy, theology and statistics at the Universities of Berlin, Munich, Bonn and Strasbourg, and received a law degree with the highest distinction from Strasbourg University. [2] In 1912 Schuman set up practice as a lawyer in Metz. When war broke out in 1914 he was called up for the auxiliary troops by the German army in Metz but excused from military service on health grounds. From 1915 to 1918 he served in the administration of the Boulay district. [3]

Clausen, Luxembourg Quarter in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Clausen is a quarter in central Luxembourg City, in southern Luxembourg. Clausen is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city of Luxembourg with its earlier history tying back to that of the breweries in the area during the 12th century. It is now a hot spot for nightlife with a number of trendy bars and restaurants.

Athénée de Luxembourg

The Athénée de Luxembourg, is a high school situated in Luxembourg City, in southern Luxembourg. Throughout the school's history of more than 400 years, the name was changed repeatedly. It's nowadays commonly called Stater Kolléisch or De Kolléisch, and is the nation's oldest school still in existence.

Metz Prefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Metz is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers. Metz is the prefecture of the Moselle department and the seat of the parliament of the Grand Est region. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, the city forms a central place of the European Greater Region and the SaarLorLux euroregion.

Inter-war period

Schuman in 1949. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-19000-2453, Robert Schuman.jpg
Schuman in 1949.

After the First World War, Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France and Schuman became a French citizen in 1919. Schuman became active in French politics. In 1919 he was first elected as député to parliament on a regional list, and later serving as the député for Thionville (Moselle) until 1958 with an interval during the war years. He made a major contribution to the drafting and parliamentary passage of the reintroduction of the French Civil and Commercial codes by the French parliament, after that the Alsace-Lorraine region, until there under the German domain (and the German law) came back to France. This harmonization of the regional law with the French law was called "Lex Schuman". [4] Schuman also investigated and patiently uncovered postwar corruption in the Lorraine steel industries and in the Alsace and Lorraine railways, both bought by a derisory price by the powerful and influential de Wendel family, what he called in the Parliament "a pillage". [5]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Alsace-Lorraine Territory created by the German Empire in 1871

The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871, after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle department of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east of the Vosges Mountains. The Lorraine section was in the upper Moselle valley to the north of the Vosges.

Thionville Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Thionville is a commune in the northeastern French department of Moselle. The city is located on the left bank of the river Moselle, opposite its suburb Yutz.

World War II

In 1940, because of his expertise on Germany, Schuman was called to become a member of Paul Reynaud's wartime government, in charge of the refugees. He kept that charge during the first Pétain government. On 10 July, he voted to give full power to Hitler's ally Marshal Pétain, but refused to continue to be in the government. Later that year, on 14 September, he was arrested for acts of resistance and protest against Nazi methods. He was interrogated by the Gestapo but thanks to the intervention of a German lawyer, he was saved from being sent to Dachau. Transferred as a personal prisoner of Gauleiter Joseph Buerckel, he escaped in 1942 and re-joined the French Resistance.[ citation needed ] He addressed large conferences in the Free Zone explaining why the defeat of Germany was inevitable.[ citation needed ] This was at a time when Nazi Germany was at the peak of its power. The Germans then invaded the Free Zone. Although his life was still at risk, he spoke to friends about a Franco-German and European reconciliation that must take place after the end of hostilities, as he had already done in 1939–40.[ citation needed ]

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Paul Reynaud French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period

Paul Reynaud was a French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period, noted for his stances on economic liberalism and militant opposition to Germany.

Philippe Pétain French military and political leader

Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain, generally known as Philippe Pétain, Marshal Pétain and The Old Marshal, was a French general officer who attained the position of Marshal of France at the end of World War I, during which he became known as The Lion of Verdun, and in World War II served as the Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France's oldest head of state.

French minister

Schuman at the French embassy in Washington, after the signature of the treaty that created NATO, in April 1949. Schuman Washington.jpg
Schuman at the French embassy in Washington, after the signature of the treaty that created NATO, in April 1949.

After the war, Schuman rose to great prominence. He initially had difficulties because of his 1940 vote and his tenure as Pétain's minister. The Defence minister Andre Diethelm  [ fr ] stated that "this Vichy product should be immediately kicked out", as all those who had voted for Pétain, should be ineligible.[ clarification needed ] He was stricken with "Indignité nationale". On 24 July 1945, Schuman wrote to General de Gaulle to ask him to intervene. De Gaulle answered favorably, and on 15 September, Schuman regained his full civic rights, [6] becoming able to again play an active role in French politics. He was Minister of Finance, then Prime Minister from 1947–1948, assuring parliamentary stability during a period of revolutionary strikes and attempted insurrection. In the last days of his first administration, his government proposed plans that later resulted in the Council of Europe and the European Community single market. [7] Becoming Foreign Minister in 1948, he retained the post in different governments until early 1953. When Schuman's first government had proposed the creation of a European Assembly, it made the issue a governmental matter for Europe, not merely an academic discussion or the subject of private conferences, like The Hague Congress of the European Movements earlier that year. (Schuman's was one of the few governments to send active ministers.) This proposal saw life as the Council of Europe and was created within the tight schedule Schuman had set. At the signing of its Statutes at St James's Palace, London, 5 May 1949, the founding States agreed to defining the frontiers of Europe based on the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms that Schuman enunciated there. He also announced a coming supranational union for Europe that saw light as the European Coal and Steel Community and other such Communities within a Union framework of common law and democracy.

Indignité nationale was a legally defined offense, created at the Liberation in the context of the "Épuration légale". The offence of Indignité nationale was meant to fill a legal void: while the laws in application in 1939 had provisions against treason, murder and such crimes, they did not take into account reprehensible behaviours which occurred during the Occupation and in the Vichy regime, such as participation in the Waffen SS or in the Milice. The bill of the "Ordinance Instituting National Indignity" was presented by the Provisional Government of the French Republic government on June 26, 1944 and adopted by the national Assembly on August 26, 1944. Indignité nationale ceased to be a criminal offense in January 1951 but the people convicted in 1944–1951 remained deprived of their civil rights until August 1953.

European Economic Community international organisation created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957

The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organisation which aimed to bring about economic integration among its member states. It was created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957. Upon the formation of the European Union (EU) in 1993, the EEC was incorporated and renamed as the European Community (EC). In 2009 the EC's institutions were absorbed into the EU's wider framework and the community ceased to exist.

We are carrying out a great experiment, the fulfillment of the same recurrent dream that for ten centuries has revisited the peoples of Europe: creating between them an organization putting an end to war and guaranteeing an eternal peace. The Roman church of the Middle Ages failed finally in its attempts that were inspired by humane and human preoccupations. Another idea, that of a world empire constituted under the auspices of German emperors was less disinterested; it already relied on the unacceptable pretensions of a ‘Führertum’ (domination by dictatorship) whose 'charms' we have all experienced.

Führer is a German word meaning "leader" or "guide". As a political title it is associated with the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Nazi Germany cultivated the Führerprinzip, and Hitler was generally known as just der Führer.

Audacious minds, such as Dante, Erasmus, Abbé de St-Pierre, Rousseau, Kant and Proudhon, had created in the abstract the framework for systems that were both ingenious and generous. The title of one of these systems became the synonym of all that is impractical: Utopia, itself a work of genius, written by Thomas More, the Chancellor of Henry VIII, King of England.

The European spirit signifies being conscious of belonging to a cultural family and to have a willingness to serve that community in the spirit of total mutuality, without any hidden motives of hegemony or the selfish exploitation of others. The 19th century saw feudal ideas being opposed and, with the rise of a national spirit, nationalities asserting themselves. Our century, that has witnessed the catastrophes resulting in the unending clash of nationalities and nationalisms, must attempt and succeed in reconciling nations in a supranational association. This would safeguard the diversities and aspirations of each nation while coordinating them in the same manner as the regions are coordinated within the unity of the nation.

Robert Schuman, speaking in Strasbourg, 16 May 1949 [8]

As Foreign Minister, he announced in September 1948 and the following year before the United Nations General Assembly, France's aim to create a democratic organisation for Europe which a post-Nazi and democratic Germany could join. [9] In 1949–50, he made a series of speeches in Europe and North America about creating a supranational European Community. [8] This supranational structure, he said, would create lasting peace between Member States.

Our hope is that Germany will commit itself on a road that will allow it to find again its place in the community of free nations, commencing with that European Community of which the Council of Europe is a herald.

Robert Schuman, speaking at the United Nations, 23 September 1949 [9]

On 9 May 1950, these principles of supranational democracy were announced in what has become known as the Schuman Declaration. [10] The text was jointly prepared by Paul Reuter, the legal adviser at the Foreign Ministry, his chef-de Cabinet, Bernard Clappier  [ fr ] and Jean Monnet and two of his team, Pierre Uri and Etienne Hirsch. The French Government agreed to the Schuman Declaration which invited the Germans and all other European countries to manage their coal and steel industries jointly and democratically in Europe's first supranational Community with its five foundational institutions. On 18 April 1951 six founder members signed the Treaty of Paris (1951) that formed the basis of the European Coal and Steel Community. They declared this date and the corresponding democratic, supranational principles to be the 'real foundation of Europe'. Three Communities have been created so far. The Treaties of Rome, 1957, created the Economic community and the nuclear non-proliferation Community, Euratom. Together with intergovernmental machinery of later treaties, these eventually evolved into the European Union. The Schuman Declaration, was made on 9 May 1950 and to this day 9 May is designated Europe Day.

As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Schuman was instrumental in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Schuman also signed the Treaty of Washington (1949) for France. The defensive principles of NATO's Article 5 were also repeated in the European Defence Community Treaty which failed as the French National Assembly declined to vote its ratification. Schuman was a proponent of an Atlantic Community.

European politics

On 19 March 1958, the first meeting of the European Parliamentary Assembly was held in Strasbourg under the Presidency of Robert Schuman. Schuman European Assembly.jpg
On 19 March 1958, the first meeting of the European Parliamentary Assembly was held in Strasbourg under the Presidency of Robert Schuman.

Schuman later served as Minister of Justice before becoming the first President of the European Parliamentary Assembly (the successor to the Common Assembly) which bestowed on him by acclamation the title 'Father of Europe'. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the European Union. He presided over the European Movement from 1955 to 1961. In 1958 he received the Karlspreis, [11] an Award by the German city of Aachen to people who contributed to the European idea and European peace, commemorating Charlemagne, ruler of what is today France and Germany, who resided in and is buried at Aachen. Schuman was also made a knight of the Order of Pius IX. [12]

Schuman was an intensely religious man and a Bible scholar. [13] He commended the writings of Pope Pius XII who condemned both fascism and communism. He was an expert in medieval philosophy, [13] especially the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, [14] and he thought highly of the philosopher Jacques Maritain, a contemporary. [15]


Grave of Robert Schuman in Saint Quentin church, in Scy-Chazelles, near Metz, France Robert Schuman grave.jpg
Grave of Robert Schuman in Saint Quentin church, in Scy-Chazelles, near Metz, France
The monument "Homage to the Founding Fathers of Europe" in front of Schuman's house in Scy-Chazelles by Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli, unveiled 20 October 2012. The statues represent the four founders of Europe - Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet and Konrad Adenauer. Robert-Schuman Monument Scy-Chazelles.jpg
The monument "Homage to the Founding Fathers of Europe" in front of Schuman's house in Scy-Chazelles by Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli, unveiled 20 October 2012. The statues represent the four founders of Europe – Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet and Konrad Adenauer.

The Schuman District of Brussels (including a metro/railway station and a tunnel, as well as a square) is named in his honour. Around the square ("Schuman roundabout") can be found various European institutions, including the Berlaymont building which is the headquarters of the European Commission and has a monument to Schuman outside, as well as key European Parliament buildings. In the nearby Cinquantenaire Park, there is a bust of Schuman as a memorial to him. The European Parliament awards the Robert Schuman Scholarship [16] for university graduates to complete a traineeship within the European Parliament and gain experience within the different committees, legislative processes and framework of the European Union.

A Social Science University named after him lies in Strasbourg (France) along with the Avenue du President Robert Schuman in that city's European Quarter. In Luxembourg there is a Rond Point Schuman, [17] Boulevard Robert Schuman, a school called Lycée Robert Schuman and a Robert Schuman Building, of the European Parliament. In Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, there is a Rue Robert Schuman. [18] The house where he was born was restored by the European Parliament and can be visited, as can his home in Scy-Chazelles just outside Metz.

In Aix-en-Provence, a town in Bouches-du-Rhone, France, there is an Avenue Robert Schumann, which houses the three university buildings of the town and in Ireland there is a building in the University of Limerick named the "Robert Schuman" building.

The European University Institute in Florence, Italy, is home to the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), focusing on "inter-disciplinary, comparative, and policy research on the major issues on the European integration process". [19]

The Robert Schuman Institute in Budapest, Hungary, a European level training institution of the European People's Party family is dedicated to promoting the idea of a united Europe, supporting and the process of democratic transformation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe and the development of Christian Democratic and centre right political parties also bears the name of Robert Schuman.

In 1965, the Robert Schuman Mittelschule in the St. Mang suburb of the city of Kempten in southern Bavaria was named after him. [20]


First ministry (24 November 1947 – 26 July 1948)


Second ministry (5–11 September 1948)

See also

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  2. Anonymous (16 June 2016). "About the EU – European Union – European Commission" (PDF). European Union. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 April 2016.
  3. "Biography – Robert Schuman centre – CERS". Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  4. "Conférence à l'occasion du 60e anniversaire de la Déclaration Schuman : Fondation d'une gouvernance en Europe – Europaforum Luxembourg". May 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  5. Lejeune, René (2000). Robert Schuman, père de l'Europe. Paris: Fayard. p. 98. ISBN   9782213606354.
  6. Poitevin, Raymond. "Robert Schuman : un itinéraire étonnant Par Raymond Poidevin". Fondation Robert Schuman. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  7. "Schuman and the Hague conferences". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  8. 1 2 "Schuman's speech at Strasbourg, announcing the coming supranational European Community". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  9. 1 2 "Schuman's speeches at the UN 1948 and 1949". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  10. "Full text of Schuman Declaration". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  11. "Charlemagne Prize Laureate 1958 Robert Schuman". Der Internationale Karlspreis zu Aachen (International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen). Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  12. "Robert Schuman And May 9th". European Parliamentary Research Service. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  13. 1 2 Wilton, Gary (2016). "Chapter 1: Christianity at the founding: the legacy of Robert Schuman". In Chaplin, Johnathan; Wilton, Gary (eds.). God and the EU: Faith in the European Project. Routledge. pp. 13–32. ISBN   978-1-138-90863-5.
  14. Fimister, Alan (2008). Robert Schuman: Neo Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe. P.I.E Peter Lang. p. 198. ISBN   978-90-5201-439-5.
  15. Pour l'Europe (For Europe) Paris 1963
  16. "Traineeships". Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  17. "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  18. "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  19. "Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies". European University Institute. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  20. "Homepage der Robert-Schuman-Mittelschule Sankt Mang" . Retrieved 24 December 2015.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Ramadier
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
André Marie
Preceded by
Georges Bidault
French Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Georges Bidault
Preceded by
André Marie
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Henri Queuille
Preceded by
Emmanuel Temple
French Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
François Mitterrand