Speech at the inauguration of the High Authority. Luxembourg, August 10th, 1952.
The first meeting of the High Authority of the Coal and Steel Community is now open.
At this moment, which marks the accomplishment of an undertaking tenaciously carried out for over two years, I must first pay homage to the statesmen of our six countries whose farsightedness and determination made it possible. I want also to extend the thanks which they merit to all of those who have contributed to the preparation of the Treaty which is our charter.
Especially, at the moment when the establishment of the Community turns what the world rightly calls the “Schuman Plan” into a living reality, let me recall the gratitude which Europe will always cherish towards President Robert Schuman who, by launching the appeal of May 9, 1950, took the initiative and the responsibility of setting our Continent on the road to unity.
In proceeding with the installation of the High Authority of the Coal and Steel Community we are performing a solemn act. We are taking charge of the responsibility which has been entrusted to us by our six countries.
Each of us has been appointed, not by one of our Governments, but by the common consent of the six Governments. Thus we are all of us the common representatives of our six countries: Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. One important sign of hope I wish particularly to emphasize: we are here together, French and Germans, members of the same Community; vital interests of Germany and France are under the control of an Authority which is no longer either German or French, but European.
In the names of all of you, I publicly repeat the pledge which each of us took when we accepted our appointment:
We will perform our duties with complete independence in the general interest of the Community.
In the performance of our duties, we will neither request nor accept instructions from any Government or organization and we will abstain from any action incompatible with the supranational character of our functions.
We take note of the pledge of the member States to respect this supra-national character and not to seek to influence us in the performance of our duties.
For the first time, the traditional relations between States are now transformed. Under the methods of the past, even when European States are convinced of the need for common action, even when they set up an international organization, they retain their complete sovereignty. Thus the international organization can neither make decisions nor carry them out, but can only make recommendations to the States. These methods cannot eliminate our national antagonisms; as long as national sovereignty is not surmounted, such antagonisms can only be aggravated.
But today, six Parliaments have decided after careful deliberation, by substantial majorities, to create the first European Community which merges a portion of their respective national sovereignties and submits it to the common interest.
Within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by the Treaty, the High Authority has received from the six States a mandate the take decisions with complete independence, decisions which immediately become effective throughout their territory. The Authority obtain its financial resources, not from contributions by the States, but from direct levies on the industries under its control.
It is responsible, not to the States, but to a European Assembly. The Assembly was elected by the national Parliaments, but it has already been provided that it may be elected directly by the people. From the beginning, the members of the Assembly are not bound by any national mandate ; they vote freely and individually, not by national blocs. Each of them represents not his own country but the whole Community. The Assembly controls our activities. It has the power to refuse us its confidence. It is the first European Assembly endowed with sovereign powers.