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Democrat - August 2002

Political device folded into EU

European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)

The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was folded into the European Union on 23 July 2002 when the Treaty of Paris expired. The ECSC Treaty of 1951 was the start of European Union and led to the 1957 Treaties signed in Rome creating the European Economic Community (EEC) known as the Common Market.

The ECSC Treaty has been used to control steel and coal production and ensured there was enough steel for the military-industrial-complex. With an unpublished common energy policy, each national coal industry was run down and in may cases closed completely. Quotas, bans on subsidies and fines have been used in the operation of the ECSC Treaty. Britain no longer has the backbone of manufacturing - coal, steel and shipbuilding.

ECSC closing ceremony
A commemoration ceremony was held on 23 July when the ECSC took on a new role in the form of a Consultative Committee within the European Economic and Social Committee (ESC). ESC President, Gke Frerichs said: "Contrary to a widespread misconception today, the European Coal and Steel Community was also an eminently political project conceived by Jean Monnet and endorsed by French foreign minister Robert Schuman, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Italian prime minister Alcide de Gasperi, Dutch minister Joseph Luns, Belgian statesman and former prime minister Paul Henri Spaak. The Schuman Declaration literally says, a first step in the federation of Europe. Frerichs said, Walter Hallstein, German Foreign Minister and one of the architects of both the ECSC and the EEC Treaties, and first Commission President, pointed out on many occasions that the EEC and ECSC were in every respect highly political ventures. Their aims were political, as were their institutions, procedures and achievements."

Experience to continue
Looking to the immediate future and enlargement, Goke Frerichs went on to say: "it is vital that we draw on the Consultative Committee's experience as we support the process of industrial change in the Central and Eastern European countries that will shortly be joining the EU". He welcomed the fact that on the suggestion of the Commission and agreement of both the European Council and Parliament, "it will be possible to carry on the work of the ECSC Consultative Committee within the ESC. We intend to draw on the experience of the past fifty years to break new ground - to establish a new kind of structured dialogue and adopt a holistic approach to the problems of industrial change".

European process
The President of the new Consultative Committee, Enrico Gibellieri, said: he was certain the ECSC heritage "would continue to contribute to the European process and the extremely important social dimension would be emphasised".

Fritz Hellwig, former Member of the ECSC High Authority said that when he returned from being a prisoner of war in North America in Summer 1947, the debate on the future of the Ruhr and on dissolving the German coal and steel cartels had begun: "From the beginning, political integration objectives were present and these objectives characterised the High Authority.

"The Association Agreement between the UK and the ECSC, which were not foreseen in the Paris Treaty, made it possible to break British isolation. The Association Council was the first step towards solving the problem of the UK which remained outside the EU." Hellwig said the EEC "had been baptised in 1958 but was preceded by six years of the ECSC".

Celebrating birth
Jacques Ren Rabier, one of Jean Monnet's colleagues in Paris from 1946 to 1952 and then in Luxembourg from 1953 to 1955 said: "We are not celebrating the death of the ECSC but the birth of the first European Community without which there would most likely be only a level of intergovernmental cooperation of different levels of flexibility between our countries.

The new Spanish foreign minister (also a Member of the Presidium of the European Convention) Ana Palacio addressed the ceremony as a European citizen rather than as a Spanish foreign minister said she had learned her lessons at the European Parliament: we are at a crossroads, a turning point. The Convention on the Future of the EU is a genuine European advance. (see Fig Leaf - Convention for an EU Constitution)

See also
Paris Treaty 1951 - European Coal & Steel Community