Robert Schuman

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Not to be confused with Robert Schumann, the composer.

Robert Schuman (1886 – 1963), a Luxembourg-born French politician and statesman is credited with the formation of the agreement that was the first step on the road that would lead to the European Union.

He moved to France as a young man; was elected to the French National Assembly in 1919. He was arrested by the Germans following the German invasion in 1940, escaped in 1942 and spent the rest of the War in the French Resistance. He resumed his political activities after the Liberation of France in 1944. Previously considered to be centre-right, he helped form the moderate left Popular Republican Movement and led various ministries (including premier of France (1947-8)) well into the 1950s.

As Foreign Minister, believing that economic unity was the best way to minimise any likelihood of another great war amongst the European nations, in 1950 he developed the “Schuman Plan”, the result of which was the formation of the “European Coal and Steel Community” – originally consisting of France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. This would lead to what is popularly known as the “Common Market” in 1958. He served in the consultative committee of the Common Market until his death in 1963