European Coal and Steel Community

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The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was a six-nation international organisation serving to unify Western Europe during the Cold War and create the foundation for the modern-day developments of the European Union. The ECSC was the first organisation to be based on the principles of supranationalism.[2]

The ECSC was first proposed by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950 as a way to prevent further war between France and Germany. He declared his aim was to 'make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible.' The means to do so, Europe's first supranational community, was formally established by the Treaty of Paris (1951), signed not only by France and West Germany, but also by Italy and the three Benelux states: Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Between these states the ECSC would create a common market for coal and steel. The ECSC was governed by a 'High Authority', checked by bodies representing governments, MPs and an independent judiciary.

The ECSC was joined by two other similar communities in 1957, with whom it shared its membership and some institutions. In 1967 all its institutions were merged with that of the European Economic Community (EEC, which later became part of the European Union), but it retained its own independent identity. However in 2002 the Treaty of Paris expired, and with no desire to renew the treaty, all the ECSC activities and resources were absorbed by the European Community. During its existence, the ECSC had succeeded in creating a common market but could not prevent the decline of the coal and steel industries. It did however set the ground for the future European Union.

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