CECA Luxembourg city
© Vanessa Migone

Luxembourg, the cradle of a united Europe

In 2022, Luxembourg and the EU celebrate 70 years of the first European institution, the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

Surprisingly, it’s at the Hotel de Ville of the Luxembourgish capital, in Place Guillaume II, where, on July 23, 1952, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Grand Duchy signed the treaty establishing a single market of coal and steel to last for duration of 40 years.

The ECSC was headquartered in the Place de Metz, in the buildings that are currently occupied by the Banque et Caisse d’Épargne de l’Etat (the Luxembourg State and Savings Bank).

A plaque commemorates the existence of this supranational organization, a pioneer of European unification, that was dissolved on July 23, 1992, as foreseen by the signatories. 

Born in Luxembourg in 1886, Robert Schuman, the French minister for foreign affairs at the time, was one of the main initiators and architects of the construction of European unification.

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Following a speech on May 9, 1950, Schuman proposed the creation of the ECSC with the goal of preventing a new conflict between France and Germany and making war “not only unthinkable, but also materially impossible.”

May 9 has since become Europe Day, also a public holiday in Luxembourg.

The house where Robert Schuman was born, a villa in the lower part of Luxembourg City in the Clausen neighborhood, is now inhabited by a European research and study center, the Centre d’études et de recherches européennes.

Institutional European pioneer

The High Authority of the ECSC was the antecedent of modern-day European Union institutions. Similarly, it preceded the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), both instituted by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and co-signed by Luxembourg.

Luxembourg City has since become one of the three official capitals of the EU along with Brussels and Strasbourg.  

This European history and tradition are especially present on the Kirchberg plateau which is home to several major EU institutions such as the Council of Europe, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Court of Justice of the European Union, the General Court, the European Court of Auditors, as well as the different departments of the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The country continued playing a role in the further development of Europe. On June 14, 1985, Schengen, a little village that sits on the banks of the Moselle River and the borders of France and Germany, gave its name to the agreement which introduced free movement and gradually abolished border checks.

Currently, 26 European countries – including 22 of the 27 member states – are part of the Schengen Area. The European Museum Schengen pays homage the highlights of the agreement and its impact on European history.

Towers of the Court of Justice of the European Union Luxembourg
© Court of Justice of the European Union

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