On 13th July 2022, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the first meeting of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the college of commissioners held - at the invitation of the Luxembourg Government - its weekly meeting at the Hôtel de Ville in Luxembourg.
"Speaking of our European Union, I am tempted to say that this is where it all began. But to be perfectly correct, I would say that it is also here that it all started," the Prime Minister noted on this occasion.
For it was here, in the town hall, that the High Authority of the ECSC, the executive body of this first European community, held its first meeting on 10 August 1952. It was therefore important for the government and the city of Luxembourg to celebrate the start of this work, which has made the city the historic capital of the European institutions, in Luxembourg. For this purpose, the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel, and the Mayor of Luxembourg City, Lydie Polfer, in the presence of the members of the college of aldermen, welcomed the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the college of commissioners to the Hôtel de Ville.
At the end of the meeting of the college of commissioners, a commemorative plaque was unveiled by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, and the Mayor of Luxembourg City, Lydie Polfer. On this occasion, the Mayor recalled that it was important to remember that these 70 years were a time that brought us well-being, unity and above all peace, and that we should be grateful to all those who contributed to the reconciliation and reconstruction of Europe.
This working meeting of the college was followed by a working lunch hosted by the government.
"After the destruction, the violence, the warlike and murderous madness, which reached its ignoble and tragic climax in the Holocaust, had ravaged our continent, the watchword was: ne plus jamais - nie wieder - never again. Or to quote Robert Schuman in his declaration of 9 May: "World peace cannot be safeguarded without creative efforts commensurate with the dangers that threaten it. Today, more than 72 years later, and in a different context but not completely detached from its origins, these words resonate most strongly. These creative efforts are proportionate to the dangers that threaten peace, and it is our historic duty to initiate, pursue and accomplish them. It is up to us to match these efforts," the Prime Minister stressed at the working lunch. It was in the wake of the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 that the Treaty of Paris, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), was signed on 18 April 1951 by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. By establishing a single market for coal and steel, the aim was to make war in Europe "not only unthinkable but also materially impossible".
To this end, the Treaty created several institutions: a High Authority, assisted by an Advisory Committee, a Common Assembly, a Special Council of Ministers and a Court of Justice. The question of the headquarters of these institutions was the subject of fierce debate at the time. It was finally at the end of July 1952 that the Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Bech, proposed that the ECSC should provisionally begin its work in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg having thus been chosen as the provisional working place of the ECSC, the various institutions were able to begin their activities in Luxembourg only a few days later, with the installation meeting of the High Authority on 10 August 1952, presided over by Jean Monnet, the first meeting of the Special Council of Ministers on 8 September 1952, presided over by the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and, on 10 December 1952, the first working meeting of the Court of Justice. Following the arrival in the Grand Duchy of the first European civil servants and their families, Luxembourg also became the birthplace of the European School system, with the first school being established in Luxembourg in October 1953.
70 years later, Luxembourg remains one of the three European capitals, and continues to host the headquarters of many European institutions, agencies and bodies, in accordance with European Union primary law. Today, more than 14,000 officials and agents work in Luxembourg for various directorates of the European Commission, the Secretariat-General of the European Parliament, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Investment Bank, the Publications Office of the European Union, the European Court of Auditors, the European Stability Mechanism, the two European Schools, the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union, the High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC) and the European Public Prosecutor. The Court of Appeal and the Registry of the Unified Patent Court have recently been added. This new court will have jurisdiction over infringement and validity cases of new unitary patents as well as European patents.
Since 1965, the Council holds its sessions in Luxembourg during the months of April, June and October.
Press release by the Ministry of State / Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs / Luxembourg City