The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), prefigured by Robert Schuman’s declaration on 9 May 1950, came into existence on 18 April 1951, when the representatives of six founding states – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – concluded the Treaty of Paris for a 50-year period. The institutional architecture of this first European Community shaped the current balance of powers in the European Union, with the High Authority (now the European Commission), a supranational executive; the Special Council of Ministers embodying the national interest; the Common Assembly (now the European Parliament) representing citizens; and the Court of Justice, an independent body.
In July 1952, Luxembourg City was chosen as the provisional location of the ECSC. On 10 August 1952, the High Authority moved into the building that now houses the Spuerkeess bank. Later that year, on 10 December, the ECSC Court of Justice held its formal inaugural session at the Cercle Municipal, on the Place d’Armes. The judges’ chambers were housed in the Villa Vauban. From 1952 to 1954, the Special Council of Ministers regularly met in the great chamber of Luxembourg City Hall. Luxembourg City therefore became one of the seats of the European Communities, alongside Strasbourg, which hosted the Common Assembly, and Brussels from 1958 onwards following the creation of the European Economic Community and Euratom. The merger of the Community executive bodies in 1965 confirmed Luxembourg’s role as Europe’s legal and financial headquarters. It was only in 1992 that the Edinburgh European Council enshrined Luxembourg, Brussels and Strasbourg as “permanent capitals” of the European Union.
The ECSC Treaty marked the start of Luxembourg’s European vocation as a founding state and leading player in the European integration process, and that of Luxembourg City as the “first capital of a united Europe”.
In the run-up to Europe Day, looking back at the milestones in the history of the ECSC and examining Luxembourg’s European destiny, the Europe Direct Information Centre at the University of Luxembourg and its partners based in Luxembourg – the Representation of the European Commission and the European Parliament Liaison Office in Luxembourg, the Fondation du Mérite Européen, the European Movement, the Robert Schuman Initiative for European Affairs (University of Luxembourg), the Robert Schuman House in Luxembourg (University / Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History), the European Museum Schengen and EDIC Schengen – and in Europe – the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence, Europeana Digital Library, the European Parliament Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services, the Archives of the European Parliament, the European Parliament Network of Political Houses and Foundations of Great Europeans, the Robert Schuman House in Scy-Chazelles and the Moselle département (France) –, invite you to the webinar:
« Luxembourg, the first capital of a united Europe»
on 6 May 2021 from 14.00 to 16.00 via Webex (in French, with simultaneous interpretation into English).
14.00 – Opening
– Welcome and introductory remarks – Dr Elena Danescu, coordinator of EDIC University of Luxembourg
– Opening address – Prof. Dr Stéphane Pallage, rector of the University of Luxembourg
– Video message – Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Honorary President of the Fondation du Mérite européen
14.15 – The Robert Schuman Lecture
– “ The Treaty of Paris: from negotiation to ratification” Prof. Sylvain Schirmann, honorary director of Sciences Po Strasbourg, University of Strasbourg; Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Robert Schuman House in Scy-Chazelles
15.00 – Memory of Europe
– Video message – Dr Dieter Schlenker, director of the Historical Archives of the European Union, Florence
– “Luxembourg, a European destiny. From the Schuman Declaration to the inauguration of the ECSC institutions” (multimedia presentation/virtual exhibition) – Dr Étienne Deschamps, historian in the European Parliamentary Research Service
– “A Luxembourger in the European institutions” – Martine Reicherts, president of the European Movement Luxembourg, former Member of the European Commission, former Director of the Publications Office of the European Union
15.25 – Future perspectives
– Charles Goerens, member of the European Parliament, discusses the aims of the Conference on the Future of Europe
– Debate between the speakers and the audience/question and answer session – moderated by Elena Danescu, EDIC coordinator
15.50 – Closing address – Stephan Koppelberg, acting representative of the European Commission in Luxembourg