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    Robert Schuman and the birth of Europe

    Robert Schuman - statesman, lawyer, French foreign minister and prime minister - is one of the founding fathers of European unity.

    Solidarity in times of crisis is what defines today’s European Union. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Schuman’s declaration and the birth of the European Union, the EIB, along with the other European institutions, are ready to work together and embrace tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.

    Find out more about Robert Schuman >

    Celebrate Europe Day with the European Commission >

    European Commission press release >


    Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.

    • Robert Schuman
    >@Getty Images
    © Getty Images

    The Foundation of the European Union

    With Jean Monnet, Schuman drew up a plan that proposed joint control of coal and steel production. The Schuman Plan was published on 9 May 1950, a date symbolically marking the birth of the European Union. The idea was that if no single country had full control over these resources, nobody would be able to wage war.

    Thus, Europe began as a peace initiative. Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany signed the agreement for the European Coal and Steel Community in Paris in April 1951. Schuman's vision has since proven true: Europe is experiencing its longest period of peace.

    Was the idea to support citizens from several countries, to give them hope, health and happiness through work, economic growth and increased cooperation, a compromise or a necessity born out of a devastated continent? It was likely more than this. Europeans had to look forward, together, in solidarity.

    Read the full text of the Schuman Declaration >

    Watch an extract from the Schuman Declaration >

    E is for Europe: More on the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community >


    Establishment of the European Investment Bank

    Founded in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome, which also established the European Economic Community, the history of the EIB is linked with that of the European project itself. The Bank was first located in Brussels, then moved its headquarters to Luxembourg in 1968.

    As well as financing projects of common interest, the Bank's initial objectives included the mobilisation of capital to promote the cohesion of Europe and modernise the economy. More than 60 years later, these goals remain at the heart of the EIB's projects.

    Discover the history of the EIB >

    From Brussels to Luxembourg: The EIB through its buildings >


    In honour of the 70th anniversary of Schuman's declaration, the European Parliament has organised an exhibition celebrating the birth of Europe. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Parliament’s exhibition is being held virtually until further notice. Discover the exhibition panels.

    In the autumn, in collaboration with the European Parliament, a new exhibition featuring Schuman’s Declaration and other historical documents will be displayed on the EIB’s premises.