The Enduring Legacy of Robert Schuman: a vision and Values for Europe in the 21st Century

(6) Working with the United Nations

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(6) Working with the United Nations

A Representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the Authority, and will be instructed to make a public report to the United Nations twice yearly, giving an account of the working of the new organisation, particularly as concerns the safe-guarding of its objectives.

Perhaps this element of Schuman’s Declaration more than any other is a child of the moment it was written. It is underpinned by an over-confidence in and respect for the embryonic United Nations. Schuman did not imagine that the tentative proposal for a European Coal and Steel Community might develop into a Union of 500 million people with the status of a global player in the vastly changed geo-politics of the 21st Century.

Brussels has become a global capital with the highest concentration of diplomats and journalists in the world – higher than in New York, the seat of the United Nations. Rather than needing to account to the United Nations the EU normally acts in UN negotiations as a single body. The EU has a permanent delegation in New York while the UN also has a substantial presence in Brussels with offices for the ‘family of UN organisations’. The UN and EU present themselves as partners on the global stage with numerous joint projects. The UN Brussels office website states:
The United Nations and European Commission are united by common values and principles - by a shared commitment to essential rights and freedoms outlined in the Charter of the United Nations. We pursue common objectives such as the Millennium Developments Goals, and have a shared responsibility for ensuring that we work to reach them in the most effective way (Magiro).
The EU is also often the unnumbered extra player at G7, G8 or G20 gatherings. The President of the Commission usually sits alongside Heads of State or government at such events. As well as being an economy of global significance the EU consistently brings to the world stage its commitment to respect for human rights and sustainable development, and its belief in a law/rule based approach to international systems.
The EU is not a military power and its reliance on soft power can sometimes limit its international influence:
Europe cannot without contradicting itself, indulge in crude power projection elsewhere in the world at the expense of the virtues of self-limitation, compromise and submission to the laws that underpin European integration. Rather it must seek to export these virtues. It is no coincidence that Europe’s foreign policies have met with their rare successes mostly when European positions expressed values of engagement, respect for the rule of law and multi-lateralism. (Andreani 1999, p.26 )
The EU has developed some skill in using the ‘soft power’ associated with its culture, political ideals and values. The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and the appointment of a High Representative for external relations along with the plan to develop a new External Action Service is a clear sign that the EU itself recognises that it is punching below its weight globally.
The complexity of contemporary international relations means that even the largest member states of the EU struggle to act effectively on their own. To date much of the EU’s approach to external action has been incremental or ad hoc. The creation of the new External Action Service offers the EU the opportunity to develop a service that is ‘fit for purpose’. However the lack of detail in the Treaty means that the precise formation and inauguration of the service is likely to be contentious. The shape of the new service is likely to be revealed close to the 60th Anniversary of the Schuman Declaration. If the outcome is as creative and as adventurous as was the original declaration, there could be much to celebrate. If not, it will be a missed opportunity.
The current turbulence in global affairs means that the new service will be under pressure to deliver from the very moment of its official launch. If the more powerful members of the EU do not fully commit to the success of the external action service, it will be ‘holed below the water line’ from the very beginning. In a world where religion is an implicit as well as explicit element of international relationships, and sometimes key to understanding interactions between different actors, it will be important that members of the new External Action Service are fully conversant about faith and religion in the modern world.
The External Action Service will need to recognise that religion is an ambiguous phenomenon. It can exacerbate or mitigate conflict. It is important to take into account the tendency of religious views of the world to absolutise issues and divisions that might otherwise be the subject of political negotiation and compromise. This is in addition to the very mixed record of attitudes to violence in all religious traditions. So religion, including the Christian Church, can only offer insights about world order on the basis of a recognition that it is itself caught up in the compromises and conflicts of humanity; on the basis of an awareness of its own mixed historical record together with a willingness to be critical about its own assumptions, attitudes and role.
Whilst being aware that religion, including the Christian Church, is part of the problem nevertheless in a world characterised by violence and disorder, the Church has a gospel of peace to proclaim. This is the peace between God and humanity, brought about by Christ who is himself our peace (Ephesians 2, 14), which brings hope to people in the most dire of situations. It impels the followers of Jesus to act as peacemakers (Matthew 5, 9), by prayer for the world and its leaders, by working for reconciliation between contending parties and by seeking to establish that justice whose fruit is peace for there is a false peace to be exposed (Jeremiah 6, 13-14) as well as God's shalom to establish. One implication of this is, as noted earlier, is that the Churches have a special responsibility in the area of reconciliation and the resources and insights that they have developed provide a valuable resource to those in politics.

The short history of the European Union is a remarkable success story. Within the short span of 60 years the war-torn and economically and politically bankrupt continent of Europe has been transformed. Peace amongst the member states of the EU is now taken for granted. And the creation of a prosperous multi-national democracy of 500 million people living in 27 member states has far surpassed the dreams of even the most visionary of the post-war generation of statesmen.
The sixtieth anniversary of the Schuman Declaration is a fitting moment to pay tribute again to Robert Schuman ‘the Father of Europe’ and his peers for the Christian vision and dedication that they brought to the task of peace-making and reconciliation within Europe.
The Europe that gave birth to Schuman, De Gasperi, Monnet and Adenauer had been profoundly shaped by the Christian Gospel and the history of the Christian Church across the continent. Inspired by their faith the founding fathers of the new Europe shared the Christian understanding that all women and men are made in the image of God; that all people have an inviolable sacred worth and dignity. Following from this, men and women are made and called to love one another and to live in peace. For the founding fathers the creation of the European Community was the clear translation of their Christian values into political, social and economic reality.
The presence and persistence of the Christian Church within nearly 2000 years of European history, not only embedded Christian values within the cultural and public life of the continent but also contributed to the shaping of the public and political realm. The existence of the Church has acted as a constant reminder that the state does not have ultimate or religious claims on its subjects. Its extensive engagement with government, including periodic arguments or crises relating to power, authority, independence and allegiance, has shaped a European public space, where diversity and argument limit the authority claims of the state. Democracy, freedom and the rule of law are accepted values in Europe, because of the Church. ‘Europe is what it is because of its Christian history’.
This year marks the first hesitant steps of the Union in the new world of the Lisbon Treaty. At the same time it finds itself becalmed by the challenges of a global economic and financial crisis and by international disagreement about how to respond to climate change. Individually and communally the member states face a decade of economic turbulence and financial stringency, while the Union’s much prized leadership within the international climate change negotiations has all but evaporated.
Such a period of internal and external uncertainty requires that the European Union gain renewed inspiration from its original vision, purpose and values. The 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration is a significant moment in the history of the EU and a timely opportunity to engage with the sources of inspiration that make Europe what it has and could be.
From a Church perspective, Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty provides a new legal basis for this engagement. Like the Schuman Declaration before it, Article 17 is drafted very modestly. However, genuine dialogue between the Union and its recognized sources of inspiration, across the full range of human and community activities, offers vital hope and life-giving purpose and energy. Dialogue with the Churches is part of what makes Europe what it is in the present and for the future.
The institutions of the EU recognize that the European project will always be work in progress. In December 2007 the European Council tasked a reflection group to consider the challenges that the Union will face between now and 2020-2030. It is not tasked with a review of current policy but rather with delineating Europe’s self-understanding for the next generation. The questions are about what constitutes Europe, European identity, the nature of social Europe and the European economic model, and the relationships with citizens and the world outside of the EU. The final report is due in June 2010 shortly after the 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.
The sui generis journey begun by Schuman and his generation continues. Despite the remarkable and unexpected achievements of the EU and its reputation as a bloated bureaucracy, there is an essential and perhaps surprising modesty about the EU. Lacking the perceived legitimacy of a nation state or the sustained loyalty of its citizens the continued self-questioning of the EU and its purpose and its root values is as much likely to be part of the next 60 years as it has been for the last.

The Schuman Declaration- A Transcript
World Peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.
Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which will first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action must in the first place concern these two countries.
With this aim in view, the French government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point: It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organisation open to the participation of the other countries in Europe.
The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.
The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.
The production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, viz the development of the African continent.
In this way, there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interests which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to another by sanguinary divisions.
By pooling basic production and instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.
To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases:
The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.

To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.

In contrast to international cartels, which tend to impose restrictive practices on distribution and the exploitation of national markets, and to maintain high profits, the organization will ensure the fusion of markets and the expansion of production.

The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform to the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted. The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority's decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.

A representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the Authority, and will be instructed to make a public report to the United Nations twice yearly, giving an account of the working of the new organization, particularly as concerns the safeguarding of its objectives.

The institution of the High Authority will in no way prejudge the methods of ownership of enterprises. In the exercise of its functions, the common High Authority will take into account the powers conferred upon the International Ruhr Authority and the obligations of all kinds imposed upon Germany, so long as these remain in force.


9 May 1950

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