History of US-EU Relations: 3

Document: The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State, at London
Date: May 11, 1950

“Initial reaction Dept to FR proposal re coal and steel industries is to welcome it as imaginative, useful and having considerable merit.” (emphasis added)


Document: The President’s News Conference of May 18, 1950
Date: May 18, 1950

“Mr. Schuman’s proposal…for the pooling of the French and German steel and coal industries is an act of constructive statesmanship. We welcome it.” (emphasis added)

Pres. Truman goes on to discuss the possible impact of Schuman’s proposal, stating, “I am confident, however, that the kind of imaginative thinking that went into the proposal can work out the details in ways that will benefit not only the countries directly concerned, including those who work in these industries and those who use their products, but also the whole free world.”


Document: The United States Special Representative in Europe (Harriman) to the Secretary of State
Date: May 20, 1950

In the beginning of his report, Harriman starts out with strong praise, “Believe proposal may well prove most important step towards economic progress and peace of Europe since original Marshall speech on ERP.”

At the end of the report, he reiterates the importance of the proposal, “wish emphasize overriding importance that this opportunity be not lost and that US throw full weight its support for prompt initiation and consummation of negotiations…” (emphasis added)


US Context: President Truman and the relevant stakeholders at the State Department recognized the importance of the Schuman Plan and had high hopes for its success.

Acheson 9 May 1950
Dean Acheson during his visit to Paris (9 May 1950)

European Context: Robert Schuman, the French foreign minister, proposed the integration of the coal and steel sectors during a speech on May 9, 1950. For more information on the beginning of the ECSC, I recommend the CVCE webpage, The Birth of the Community of Europewhich has four sections of background information and primary sources- 1) The Origins of the Schuman Plan; 2) The Declaration of 9 May 1950; 3) The Creation of the ECSC; and 4) The Beginnings of the ECSC.

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