The ECSC was first proposed by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950 as a way to prevent further war between France and Germany. He declared his aim was to "make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible" which was to be achieved by regional integration, of which the ECSC was the first step. The Treaty would create a common market for coal and steel among its member states which served to neutralise competition between European nations over natural resources, particularly in the Ruhr.
The ECSC was run by four institutions: a High Authority composed of independent appointees, a Common Assembly composed of national parliamentarians, a Special Council composed of national ministers, and a Court of Justice. These would ultimately form the blueprint for today's European Commission, European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Court of Justice.
The ECSC stood as a model for the communities set up after it by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the European Economic Community and European Atomic Energy Community, with whom it shared its membership and some institutions. The 1967 Merger (Brussels) Treaty led all of ECSC's institutions to merge into the European Economic Community, but the ECSC retained its own independent legal personality. In 2002, the Treaty of Paris expired and the ECSC ceased to exist in any form, its activities fully absorbed by the European Community under the framework of the Amsterdam and Nice treaties.
As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Schuman was instrumental in turning French policy away from the Gaullist policy of permanent occupation or control of parts of German territory such as the Ruhr or the Saar. Despite stiff ultra-nationalist, Gaullist and communist opposition, the French Assembly voted a number of resolutions in favour of his new policy of integrating Germany into a community. The International Authority for the Ruhr changed in consequence. Schuman's guiding principles were moral, based on the equality of states (international democracy), not the power politics of domination.
The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 (in 1985 declared "Europe Day" by the European Communities) occurred after two Cabinet meetings, when the proposal became French government policy. France was thus the first government to agree to surrender sovereignty in a supranational Community. That decision was based on a text, written and edited by Schuman's friend and colleague, the Foreign Ministry lawyer, professor Paul Reuter with the assistance of economist Jean Monnet and Schuman's Directeur de Cabinet, Bernard Clappier. It laid out a plan for a European Community to pool the coal and steel of its members in a common market.