Per decade, the series “Together we have built Europe” explains the challenges, constraints and progress as well as the projects that have marked the history of the European Union. Hafsa, who works for the European Commission Department in charge of European regional and urban policy, and her colleague Hangel travel back in time to the 1950s.
The Second World War had just caused enormous human losses and material damage. The European continent had to pick itself up and do everything to avoid such a tragedy from recurring. As you can imagine, the reconstruction required a great deal of energy and raw materials.
That’s why, in a speech delivered on 9 May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman expressed for the first time the ambition to create a French-German alliance and thus put coal and steel production under a supranational authority. The following year, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established, with France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg as founding members. Their mission was to enable these two industries and their production areas to modernise and cut costs by working together.
In 1957, the ECSC became the European Economic Community (EEC) aimed at reducing inequalities between the regions by creating a common market. The success was such that in 1958, an administration was set up to direct the operations: the European Commission. Initially, its aim was to change the relations between the member countries and trade.
Economic development brought progress in every respect and improved citizens’ living conditions. The population increased; this phenomenon is called the “baby boom“. This faced the members states with a new challenge: how to feed all these people without depending on other world powers?