News and Research on Europe highlighting Robert Schuman's political, economic, philosophical contribution from the independent Schuman Project Directed by David H Price.
Further information Tel/Fax: +322 230 7621. email:            ©Bron 1999- 2009

Learn about Schuman's life

What contemporaries thought of Schuman 

Robert Schuman's Proposal of 9 May 1950 

Was the Proposal the start of a European Federation?

Europe's democratic institutions
FIVE institutions for Europe

Schuman on Democratic Liberty

What is the difference between a federation or a supranational Community?


WARNING! Counterfeiters of European History OFFICIALLY at Work! 

What did Schuman say about post-Soviet Europe? 


EU's ENERGY non-policy 

 How to manage disastrous CLIMATE    CHANGE 

Europe's Geography already extends worldwide!  
Is Turkey European? Is Cyprus? Is Russia?   

  Enlargement: long awaited! Collect EU's 5 keys 

 Schuman on the meaning of democratic liberty

Democracies are fond of boasting about their liberties. "There is only one force that can conquer hatred and tyranny," said US President George W Bush, "and that is freedom."  But there is a problem. Democracies are based on majority control. What will stop a democracy from becoming a system of where the majority maltreats the minority? The liberty of one group becomes the oppression of the other. In such an extreme, democracy becomes hardly distinguishable from mob rule. There are other dangers too. Democracies could be captured by interest groups. This could be by social class. In the period of industrialization, the working class was under-represented in parliaments. Women fought for the vote. In ancient Greek democracies, it is said that 30,000 Athenians ruled 300,000 slaves and 3,000,000 in colonies. Democracies are sometimes a danger to themselves. During real or artificial crises, they sometimes vote in dictatorships like Hitler's and die. In modern democracies, industrial lobbies may influence democratic parties to such an extent that no party really represents the interests opposing those lobbies. Schuman had made a lifelong study of the ways to improve democracies -- which in its best form, he considered, had the potential to represent the highest spiritual aspirations of mankind. At the centre was the search for impartiality and the common good through five key institutions.

In 1947-8, when Schuman was made Prime Minister, France was undergoing it gravest postwar trial. The State itself was under threat of falling, either under a Communist-led insurrection or a Right-wing reaction. The Americans, aware as was Schuman of the Soviet Kominform plans, feared that French democracy would fall and share the fate of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Schuman maintained a firm and moderate course that disarmed the extremists on either side. In the extract below, he calls for a Regulator of the various and vying interests in society. The supranational system of law guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms is one sort of regulator. Schuman initiated that in 1950 in the Council of Europe. The same year, he revealed an institutional form of regulator in the Community system. It included the European Commission or High Authority, as it was first called. Its purpose was to seek out common interests and seek to provide impartial solutions to common problems. This impartial proposal was tested and criticised by the other institutions: the Council of Ministers representing state interests, the legally required Advisory Committees which represent the interests of corporate and collective bodies, and the Parliament which represents the interests of individuals. The European Court provided a necessary appeal mechanism to insure a further degree of impartiality.

In the winter of 1947-8 many saw an authority figure, like Charles de Gaulle, as the solution to the insurrectional strikes. In fact, either choice would have led to bloodshed.  Schuman showed that there was a democratic alternative to the threatened coup d'Etat in France. He strengthened the democratic will.

The concept of regulator is one of the most important in the debates on the Constitutional Treaty and the future of Europe. The regulator has to manage impartially a combined population approaching a half billion and 27 or more member states plus powerful regional, industrial lobbies acting on the world scene.

Here is what Schuman wrote at the height of the crisis of the French Republic.

Democracies are judged by their moral character
"Governments are faced with grave and difficult material problems: food supply, production, salaries and prices. They see peace being compromised among the nations by prejudices of race, by the rivalry of force and the rivalry of interests. Inside countries, people are seeking the way to conciliate liberty with authority. They seek understanding between social classes.

To be able to reach such a result in all these fields, we certainly need studies and technical remedies, as well as the scientific development of material energies.

But all these efforts are insufficient and in vain if they do not stand on a solid moral foundation. The real source is the morality of the individual, of the family and of the State. And at the same time it is the guarantee of peace and wellbeing.
In my native Lorraine, next to fields of wheat and fields of battles,  rises a hill called the 'Hill of Inspiration' and dominates the view. It has become the site of pilgramage for those who wish to contemplate our values and our future.

More than all other political regimes, democracies have need of such a regulator of liberty.  I salute ... those who animate this inspired democracy which must re-establish the primacy of spiritual values in the heart of our tormented humanity."

        Robert Schuman 31 May 1948, Prime Minister of France.

The Community system was created to provide a means to 'make wars unthinkable' because it assured that there was always a peaceful democratic solution to all problems involving conflict of interests, whether of states, industries or powerful individuals. This innovative means to outlaw war is only possible through the supranational system where nations, corporate and regional interests and individuals can have their voice in making any technical decision as impartial as possible. Just four years after the most bloody and gruesome of Europe's world wars, he laid the following foundation for banning war amongs Europeans and developing the bases of a new peace-affirming society.
True liberty shows a moral example of peace and persuasion.

"It is on French soil that the seat of our {first European} organisation will be built. France is grateful for this choice you have made. It is an honour and a witness of the trust that the other nations have conferred in her. France has always felt the vocation of being a messenger. French revolutionaries carried the new message of liberty far beyond our borders. It became the common property of all contemporary humanity.

In their zeal, they did not always know how to stay within the limits of peaceful methods!

We will not suffer such a temptation. Example and persuasion are our only means in an enterprise that is devoted exclusively to peace and peaceful construction. We will not threaten anyone. We will join our hands in mutual help. But at the same time, we will be serving Europe as a whole in creating a nucleus of a renewed Europe that has been regenerated in ordeals of fire and is conscious of its own mission to civilisation."

Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister, speaking at the signing of the statutes of the Council of Europe at St James's Palace, London, 5 May 1949.
 Which institutions?
 What is a supranational Community?

 What is the difference between a supranational Community and a Federation?
 Back to Welcome Page


Back to Welcome page