The birth of the European Coal and Steel Community

The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was the first inter-European administrative agency established by the treaty of Paris in 1951 -which was later ratified in 1952- designed to eliminate borders and tariffs in between the coal and steel industries in Western Europe. The original members of the ECSC were France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The organisation subsequently expanded to include all members of the European Economic Community (later renamed the European Community) and the European Union. When the treaty expired in 2002, the ECSC was dissolved.

In May 1950 French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed the establishment of a common market for coal and steel for those countries who acceded to conceding control of these sectors of their economies to an independent authority. During the creation of what came to be known as the Schuman plan, French policy makers were motivated by the belief that a new economic and political framework was needed to avoid future Franco-German conflicts.

By 1954 the authority had effaced nearly all barriers to trade between its signatory members in coal, coke, steel, pig iron, and scrap iron. As a result, trade in these commodities rose exponentially in the 1950s. A set of common rules was established to control this blooming business. The ECSC fixed prices and set production limits or quotas and had the power to impose fines on firms that infringed the commonly agreed rules.

How well do you know the European Union and its past? Find out by answering the following quiz!

  1. What year was the Treaty of Lisbon signed?
  2. How many of the 27 Member States of the European Union were in the so-called ‘Eurozone’ in 2013? How many of them are in it now?
  3. Out of the 27 Member States of the European Union, how many are constitutional monarchies? What countries are they?
  4. When did Austria become a Member State of the European Union?
  5. Is the Council of Europe part of the European Union Institutions? How many of the current Member States of the European Union are part of it?

Now check your answers by practising with the following speeches on Speech Repository!

25627 (DE)

24377 (EL)

24223 (EN)

23150 (FR)

23591 (IT)

Happy practice!

Your Speech Repository Team