On May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, proposed to his German colleague, Konrad Adenauer, that their two nations should together form a European Coal and Steel Community, inviting other European nations to join them in placing their coal and steel industries under a shared sovereign authority.
The purpose was to consolidate post-war reconciliation and to prevent the emergence of any future war machine driven by those industries.
This was a first bold step towards today’s European Union. Although several ‘fathers’ of today’s EU are recognised including Adenaeur, De Gasperi, Monnet and Spaak, Schuman is the only one officially named ‘Father of Europe’ by the European Assembly (now Parliament).
Yet Schuman’s vision for Europe was of a ‘community of peoples’ deeply rooted in Christian values. In his correspondence with Adenauer, these two devout believers spoke of the providential opportunity they had been given to rebuild Europe on Christian foundations.
These origins of this great political experiment that has irreversibly changed the lives of Europeans have been forgotten in secularised accounts of EU history. In recent years, Schuman’s fellow patriots resisted mention of Christian roots in the proposed EU constitution, in the name of laicité, a uniquely French approach to the separation of church and state.
The State of Europe Forum aims to promote the ‘original vision’ for this ‘community of peoples’, demonstrating that it represents an authentic extension of Europe’s past, a viable foundation for Europe’s future, and a credible framework for engaging the challenges of the present.
‘Europe’ however is much broader than the current membership of the European Union. For the purposes of this centre, Europe is defined as those countries east of the Atlantic, north of Africa and west of the Ural Mountains, including Georgia and Armenia.