Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (French: [ʁɔbɛʁ ʃuman]; 29 June 1886 – 4 September 1963) was a Luxembourg-born French statesman. Schuman was a Christian democratic (Popular Republican Movement) political thinker and activist. Twice Prime Minister of France, a reformist Minister of Finance and a Foreign Minister, he was instrumental in building postwar European and trans-Atlantic institutions and was one of the founders of the European Communities, the Council of Europe and NATO.[1] The 1964–1965 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour. In 2021, Schuman was declared venerable by Pope Francis in recognition of his acting on Christian principles.[2]

Robert Schuman
Robert Schuman, circa 1949.
Prime Minister of France
In office
5 September 1948 – 11 September 1948
PresidentVincent Auriol
Preceded byAndré Marie
Succeeded byHenri Queuille
In office
24 November 1947 – 26 July 1948
PresidentVincent Auriol
Preceded byPaul Ramadier
Succeeded byAndré Marie
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
26 July 1948 – 8 January 1953
Prime MinisterAndré Marie
Henri Queuille
Georges Bidault
René Pleven
Edgar Faure
Antoine Pinay
Preceded byGeorges Bidault
Succeeded byGeorges Bidault
President of the European Parliament
In office
19 March 1958 – 18 March 1960
Preceded byHans Furler
Succeeded byHans Furler
Personal details
Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman

(1886-06-29)29 June 1886
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Died4 September 1963(1963-09-04) (aged 77)
Scy-Chazelles, Lorraine, France
Political partyPopular Republican Movement

Early life edit

Schuman's birthplace in Clausen, a suburb of Luxembourg City

Schuman was born in June 1886 in Clausen, Luxembourg, inheriting his father's German citizenship. His father, Jean-Pierre Schuman (d. 1900), who was a native of Lorraine and was born a French citizen, had become a German citizen when Lorraine was annexed by Germany in 1871, and he left to settle in Luxembourg, not far from his native village of Evrange.

His mother, Eugénie Suzanne Duren (d. 1911), was a Luxembourger and even though Robert Schuman would later become involved in French politics, he grew up and attended school in Luxembourg City, speaking Luxembourgish as his mother tongue.

Schuman's secondary schooling from 1896 to 1903 was at Athénée de Luxembourg, followed in 1904 by the Lycée impérial in Metz. From 1904 to 1910, he studied law, economics, political philosophy, theology and statistics at the Universities of Berlin, Munich, Bonn and Strasbourg, and received a law degree with the highest distinction from Strasbourg University.[3] In 1904, Schuman joined the Catholic student association Unitas in Bonn.[4]

In 1912, Schuman set up practice as a lawyer in Metz and joined the L'Union Populaire Catholique.[5] When the war broke out in 1914, he was called up for the auxiliary troops by the German army in Metz but was excused from military service on health grounds. From 1915 to 1918, he served in the administration of the Boulay district.[6]

Interwar period edit

Portrait of Robert Schuman, député from Moselle (1929)

After the First World War, Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France, and Schuman became a French citizen in 1918.[7]

Schuman became active in French politics. In 1919, he was first elected as a member of the Chamber of Deputies on a regional list and later served as the deputy for Thionville (Moselle) until 1958, with an interval during the war. He made a major contribution to the drafting and the parliamentary passage of the reintroduction of the French Civil and Commercial Codes by the French parliament, when the Alsace-Lorraine region, then under German rule and thus German law, returned to France. The harmonisation of the regional law with the French law was called "Lex Schuman".[8] Schuman also investigated and patiently uncovered postwar corruption in the Lorraine steel industries and in the Alsace and the Lorraine railways, which were bought for a derisory price by the powerful and influential de Wendel family in what he called in the Parliament "a pillage".[9]

World War II edit

In 1940, because of his expertise on Germany, Schuman was called to become a member of Paul Reynaud's wartime government to be in charge of the refugees. He kept that position during the first Pétain government. On 10 July, he voted to give full power to Marshal Philippe Pétain, who supported the armistice with Germany, but refused to continue to be in the government. On 14 September, he was arrested in Metz for acts of resistance and protest against Nazi methods.[7] He was interrogated by the Gestapo but the intervention of a German lawyer stopped him from being sent to Dachau concentration camp. Schuman was placed then under house arrest in Neustadt but was able to escape to the unoccupied zone of France in August 1942.[7] Between 1942 and 1944 he also stayed several times at various monasteries such as the En-Calcat Abbey whose liturgical hours he followed.[10]

French minister edit

After the war, Schuman rose to great prominence. He initially had difficulties because of his 1940 vote for Petain and for being one of his ministers. In September 1944, General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, the commander of the French First Army, sought him out to become a political advisor in the affairs of Alsace-Lorraine, the minister of war, Andre Diethelm [fr], demanded shortly later that "this product of Vichy be immediately kicked out". Schuman had been a former minister of Pétain and a parliamentarian who had voted to grant him full powers and so, under the ordinance of 26 August 1944, he was considered ineligible for public office, stricken with indignité nationale.[11][12] On 24 July 1945, Schuman wrote to Charles de Gaulle to ask him to intervene. De Gaulle answered favourably, and on 15 September, Schuman regained his full civic rights,[12] becoming able to again play an active role in French politics.

Schuman was Minister of Finance in 1946 and Prime Minister from 1947 to 1948. He assured parliamentary stability during a period of revolutionary strikes and attempted insurrection. In the last days of his first administration, his government proposed plans that later resulted in the Council of Europe and the European Community single market.[13] Becoming Foreign Minister in 1948, he retained the post in different governments until early 1953. When Schuman's first government had proposed the creation of a European Assembly, it made the issue a governmental matter for Europe, not merely an academic discussion or the subject of private conferences, like The Hague Congress of the European Movements earlier in 1948. (Schuman's was one of the few governments to send active ministers.) The proposal saw life as the Council of Europe and was created within the tight schedule that Schuman had set. At the signing of its Statutes at St James's Palace, London, on 5 May 1949, the founding states agreed to defining the borders of Europe based on the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms that Schuman enunciated there. He also announced a coming supranational union for Europe that saw light as the European Coal and Steel Community and other such Communities within a union framework of common law and democracy:

We are carrying out a great experiment, the fulfillment of the same recurrent dream that for ten centuries has revisited the peoples of Europe: creating between them an organization putting an end to war and guaranteeing an eternal peace. The Roman church of the Middle Ages failed finally in its attempts that were inspired by humane and human preoccupations. Another idea, that of a world empire constituted under the auspices of German emperors was less disinterested; it already relied on the unacceptable pretensions of a 'Führertum' (domination by dictatorship) whose 'charms' we have all experienced.

Audacious minds, such as Dante, Erasmus, Abbé de St-Pierre, Rousseau, Kant and Proudhon, had created in the abstract the framework for systems that were both ingenious and generous. The title of one of these systems became the synonym of all that is impractical: Utopia, itself a work of genius, written by Thomas More, the Chancellor of Henry VIII, King of England.

The European spirit signifies being conscious of belonging to a cultural family and to have a willingness to serve that community in the spirit of total mutuality, without any hidden motives of hegemony or the selfish exploitation of others. The 19th century saw feudal ideas being opposed and, with the rise of a national spirit, nationalities asserting themselves. Our century, that has witnessed the catastrophes resulting in the unending clash of nationalities and nationalisms, must attempt and succeed in reconciling nations in a supranational association. This would safeguard the diversities and aspirations of each nation while coordinating them in the same manner as the regions are coordinated within the unity of the nation.

— Robert Schuman, speaking in Strasbourg, 16 May 1949[14]

As Foreign Minister, he announced in September 1948 and the next year, before the United Nations General Assembly, France's aim to create a democratic organisation for Europe, which a post-Nazi and democratic Germany could join.[15] In 1949 and 1950, he made a series of speeches in Europe and North America about creating a supranational European Community.[14] This supranational structure, he said, would create lasting peace between Member States.

Our hope is that Germany will commit itself on a road that will allow it to find again its place in the community of free nations, commencing with that European Community of which the Council of Europe is a herald.

— Robert Schuman, speaking at the United Nations, 23 September 1949[15]

On 9 May 1950, the principles of supranational democracy were announced in what has become known as the Schuman Declaration.[16] The text was jointly prepared by Paul Reuter, the legal adviser at the Foreign Ministry and his aide Bernard Clappier [fr] and Jean Monnet and two of his team members, Pierre Uri and Étienne Hirsch. The French government agreed to the Schuman Declaration, which invited the Germans and all other European countries to manage their coal and steel industries jointly and democratically in Europe's first supranational Community, with its five fundamental institutions. On 18 April 1951, six founder members signed the Treaty of Paris, which formed the basis of the European Coal and Steel Community. They declared that date and the corresponding democratic, supranational principles to be the 'real foundation of Europe'. Three communities have been created so far. The Treaties of Rome (1957) created the Economic Community and the nuclear non-proliferation Community, Euratom. Together with intergovernmental machinery of later treaties, they eventually evolved into the European Union. The Schuman Declaration was made on 9 May 1950 and since then, 9 May is designated to be Europe Day.

As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Schuman was instrumental in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Schuman also signed the North Atlantic Treaty for France. The defensive principles of NATO's Article 5 were also repeated in the European Defence Community Treaty, which failed since the French National Assembly declined to vote its ratification. Schuman also supported an Atlantic Community.

European politics edit

On 19 March 1958, the first meeting of the European Parliamentary Assembly was held in Strasbourg under the Presidency of Robert Schuman.

Schuman later served as Minister of Justice before becoming the first President of the European Parliamentary Assembly (the successor to the Common Assembly), which bestowed on him by acclamation the title 'Father of Europe'. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the European Union. He presided over the European Movement from 1955 to 1961. In 1958, he received the Karlspreis,[17] an Award by the German city of Aachen to people who contributed to the European idea and European peace, commemorating Charlemagne, the ruler of what is now both France and Germany, who lived in and is buried at Aachen. Schuman was also made a knight of the Order of Pius IX.[18]

Schuman was intensely religious and a Bible scholar.[19] He commended the writings of Pope Pius XII, who condemned both fascism and communism. He was an expert in medieval philosophy,[19] especially the writings of Thomas Aquinas,[20] and he thought highly of the philosopher Jacques Maritain, a contemporary.[21]

Cause of beatification and canonization edit

Schuman demonstrated a monkish asceticism in his daily life and believed that democracy owed its existence to Christianity.[10]

On 9 June 1990, the Bishop of Metz, Pierre Raffin, authorized the opening of the beatification process. Schuman was proclaimed a Servant of God in May 2004, with the conclusion of the diocesan process. The documents were sent to the Vatican, where the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is studying the dossier.[22]

On June 19, 2021, in an audience granted to Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree concerning the heroic virtues of Robert Schuman, who can thus be defined as Venerable.[23] The promulgation of the decree is a first step towards canonization by the Roman Catholic Church.[24]

Memorials edit

Monument to Robert Schuman in front of the Berlaymont building, Brussels
Grave of Robert Schuman in Saint Quentin church, in Scy-Chazelles, near Metz, France
The monument "Homage to the Founding Fathers of Europe" in front of Schuman's house in Scy-Chazelles by Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli, unveiled 20 October 2012. The statues represent the four founders of Europe – Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet and Konrad Adenauer.

The Schuman District of Brussels (including a metro/railway station and a tunnel, as well as a square) is named in his honour. Around the square ("Schuman roundabout") can be found various European institutions, including the Berlaymont building which is the headquarters of the European Commission and has a monument to Schuman outside, as well as key European Parliament buildings. In the nearby Cinquantenaire Park, there is a bust of Schuman as a memorial to him. The European Parliament awards the Robert Schuman Scholarship[25] for university graduates to complete a traineeship within the European Parliament and gain experience within the different committees, legislative processes and framework of the European Union.

A Social Science University named after him lies in Strasbourg (France) along with the Avenue du President Robert Schuman in that city's European Quarter. In Luxembourg there is a Rond Point Schuman,[26] Boulevard Robert Schuman, a school called Lycée Robert Schuman and a Robert Schuman Building, of the European Parliament. In Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, there is a Rue Robert Schuman.[27] The house where he was born was restored by the European Parliament and can be visited, as can his home in Scy-Chazelles just outside Metz.

In 1952 Schuman was awarded with an honorary doctorate in the Netherlands, at the Katholieke Economische Hogeschool Tilburg, at present Tilburg University.

In Aix-en-Provence, a town in Bouches-du-Rhone, France, there is an Avenue Robert Schuman, which houses the three university buildings of the town and in Ireland there is a building in the University of Limerick named the "Robert Schuman" building.

The European University Institute in Florence, Italy, is home to the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), focusing on "inter-disciplinary, comparative, and policy research on the major issues on the European integration process".[28]

The Robert Schuman Institute in Budapest, Hungary, a European level training institution of the European People's Party family is dedicated to promoting the idea of a united Europe, supporting and the process of democratic transformation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe and the development of Christian Democratic and centre right political parties also bears the name of Robert Schuman.

In 1965, the Robert Schuman Mittelschule in the St. Mang suburb of the city of Kempten in southern Bavaria was named after him.[29]

Governments edit

First ministry (24 November 1947 – 26 July 1948) edit


  • 12 February 1948 – Édouard Depreux succeeds Naegelen as Minister of National Education.

Second ministry (5–11 September 1948) edit

  • Robert Schuman – President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • René Mayer – Minister of National Defense
  • André Marie – Vice President of the Council
  • Jules Moch – Minister of the Interior
  • Christian Pineau – Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs
  • Robert Lacoste – Minister of Commerce and Industry
  • Daniel Mayer – Minister of Labour and Social Security
  • Robert Lecourt – Minister of Justice
  • Tony Revillon – Minister of National Education
  • Jules Catoire – Minister of Veterans and War Victims
  • Pierre Pflimlin – Minister of Agriculture
  • Paul Coste-Floret – Minister of Overseas France
  • Henri Queuille – Minister of Public Works, Transport, and Tourism
  • Pierre Schneiter – Minister of Public Health and Population
  • René Coty – Minister of Reconstruction and Town Planning

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Key dates in Schuman's life". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  2. ^ Mares, Courtney (19 June 2021). "EU founding father Robert Schuman declared 'venerable' by Pope Francis". Catholic News Agency.
  3. ^ Anonymous (16 June 2016). "About the EU – European Union – European Commission" (PDF). European Union. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 April 2016.
  4. ^ Palayret 2022, pp. 92–93.
  5. ^ Palayret 2022, pp. 91, 93.
  6. ^ "Biography – Robert Schuman centre – CERS". Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Palayret 2022, p. 92.
  8. ^ "Conférence à l'occasion du 60e anniversaire de la Déclaration Schuman : Fondation d'une gouvernance en Europe – Europaforum Luxembourg". May 2010. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  9. ^ Lejeune, René (2000). Robert Schuman, père de l'Europe. Paris: Fayard. p. 98. ISBN 9782213606354.
  10. ^ a b Palayret 2022, p. 93.
  11. ^ Fimister, Alan (2008). Robert Schuman: Neo Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe. P.I.E Peter Lang. p. 165. ISBN 978-90-5201-439-5.
  12. ^ a b Poidevin, Raymond. "Robert Schuman: un itinéraire étonnant" (excerpt from his 1988 book Robert Schuman) (in French). Fondation Robert Schuman. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Schuman and the Hague conferences". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Schuman's speech at Strasbourg, announcing the coming supranational European Community". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Schuman's speeches at the UN 1948 and 1949". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Full text of Schuman Declaration". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  17. ^ "Charlemagne Prize Laureate 1958 Robert Schuman". Der Internationale Karlspreis zu Aachen (International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen). Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Robert Schuman And May 9th". European Parliamentary Research Service. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  19. ^ a b Wilton, Gary (2016). "Chapter 1: Christianity at the founding: the legacy of Robert Schuman". In Chaplin, Johnathan; Wilton, Gary (eds.). God and the EU: Faith in the European Project. Routledge. pp. 13–32. ISBN 978-1-138-90863-5.
  20. ^ Fimister, Alan (2008). Robert Schuman: Neo Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe. P.I.E Peter Lang. p. 198. ISBN 978-90-5201-439-5.
  21. ^ Pour l'Europe (For Europe) Paris 1963
  22. ^ "Les soeurs de la Visitation". Monastère de la Visitation (in French). Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  23. ^ "Promulgazione di Decreti della Congregazione delle Cause dei Santi". Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  24. ^ Galindo, Gabriela (19 June 2021). "EU founder Robert Schuman on path to sainthood". Politico. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  25. ^ "Traineeships". Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  27. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  28. ^ "Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies". European University Institute. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  29. ^ "Homepage der Robert-Schuman-Mittelschule Sankt Mang". Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015.

Further reading edit

  • Avery, Graham. "Robert Schuman on Hungary and Europe." Hungarian Quarterly 198 (2010): 3–16.
  • Domingo, Rafael. "Robert Schuman and the process of European integration." in Christianity and Global Law (2020) pp 178–194.
  • Fimister, Alan. Robert Schuman: Neo-Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe (2008)
  • Hitchcock, William I. "France, the Western Alliance, and the origins of the Schuman Plan, 1948–1950." Diplomatic History 21.4 (1997): 603–630.
  • Kaiser, Wolfram. "From state to society? The historiography of European integration." in Michelle Cini and Angela K. Bourne, eds. Palgrave Advances in European Union Studies (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2006). pp. 190–208.
  • Langley, McKendree R. "Robert Schuman and the Politics of Reconciliation." Pro Rege 10.4 (1982): 8–16. online
  • Palayret, Jean-Marie (26 October 2022). "The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950". In Gehler, Michael; Guasconi, Maria Eleonora; Pierini, Francesco (eds.). Narrating Europe: Speeches on European Integration (1946–2020). Nomos Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7489-2827-0. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  • Schuman, Robert. "France and Europe." Foreign Affairs, Vol. 31, No. 3, April 1953, pp. 349–360. doi:10.2307/20030969. JSTOR 20030969.

External links edit

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the European Parliament
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by Laureate of the Charlemagne Prize
Succeeded by