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European Coal and Steel Community

European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), 1st treaty organization of what has become the European Union; established by the Treaty of Paris (1952). It is also known as the Schuman Plan, after the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, who proposed it in 1950. Member nations of ECSC pledged to pool their coal and steel resources by providing a unified market for their coal and steel products, lifting restrictions on imports and exports, and creating a unified labor market. Economically, the Coal and Steel Community achieved early success; between 1952 and 1960 iron and steel production rose by 75% in the ECSC nations, and industrial production rose 58%. When overproduction of coal became a problem after 1959, especially in Belgium, the ECSC demonstrated its flexibility by reducing Belgium's coal-producing capacity by 30% and by making available large sums of money to aid in retraining miners and developing new industries. The ECSC had, by 1970, granted about $150 million in aid to retrain over 400,000 coal miners. The executive machinery of the ECSC provided an important precedent for the future growth of a united Europe: the nine-member High Authority, which became a part of the European Commission in 1967, was chosen by the member governments and made independent of those governments. Its independence was guaranteed by providing the authority with its own source of income.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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