Jean Monnet, front center, and some of his colleagues, at the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community's headquarters in Luxembourg in April, 1953.

Jean Monnet, front center, and some of his colleagues, at the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community's headquarters in Luxembourg in April, 1953. (Red Grandy / ©S&S)

LUXEMBOURG CITY — ONE DAY IN THE not too distant future young history students will probably have a new date to remember. That will be May 1 — and it won't be because of Labor Day or May Day. It could possibly be called the birthdate of a federated Europe.

For on that date this year, six European nations will give up sovereign rights of control over a national industry — steel. On Feb. 10 this year the same nations gave up national control of coal and scrap iron.

The supranatational body .which will take control of the coal and steel industry in France, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, West Germany and Luxembourg is called the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community. Its temporary headquarters is in a four-story granite building in this tiny duchy's capital city. And its chairman is France's dynamic Jean Monnet — scion of the cognac family and mastermind of most of France's reconstruction and financial program since the war's end.

This is the practical application of the well-known, but little understood, Schuman Plan. It was presented by the former French foreign minister — but undoubtedly was largely drafted by Monnet.

Exactly what does the High Authority for the European Coal and Steel Community propose to do?

In simple terms, it amounts to four basic steps. These were taken for coal and scrap iron on Feb. 10 and will go into effect May 1 for steel. They are:

1 — All tariffs on coal, steel and scrap iron shipments among the six countries will end forever.

2 — All quota restrictions, both qualitative and quantitative, will be ended. This means all six member nations will never again allow just so-much coal or iron to be imported. Also restrictions will not be placed on the amount of a certain type of steel that may be produced.

3 — Dual pricing, by which some countries charged their own people one price and a higher price to neighboring countries will be abolished. Foreign buyers, for instance, can then buy French iron for the same price as a French company.

4 — Free and unrestricted trade will be imposed by eliminating certain discriminating freight rates by which the coal and steel prices were artificially raised or lowered.

In these terms the program seems so simple many might wonder why this hasn't been done years ago. Mainly it had to come through a supranational program because one nation alone could only wipe out part of the restrictions and their people would suffer unless their neighbors went along. Now this has been done, and Monnet and his devoted staff believe it's the beginning of a new era for European industry and, they hope, a federated Europe.

As Monnet has pointed out, European heavy Industry is full of distortions and protections. There are all sorts of subsidies, quota restrictions, discriminate freight rates, tariff barriers and price facings. Actually it is a veritable jungle of bureaucratic red tape originally designed to protect national industries against outside competition and protect low production units against more efficient neighbors.

But all that these ever-growing schemes ever accomplished was that all countries lost money at the same time, Monnet explains. He added:

"It's going to take a long time to eliminate and reduce these artificial barriers until true industrial competition in our six countries asserts itself — but already we are beginning, and already we can see results ... You cannot open the common market," he concluded, "like a road or a bridge."

The High Authority has actually become a sovereign body in that it has already ordered its first "European tax" and at least two nations have already accredited diplomatic missions to it. The tax started in February and amounts to .03 per cent of the cost of each ton of coal, steel or iron ore. This is paid into banks in the member nations. The tax will be increased each two months by .03 per cent until the figure of. .09 per cent is reached.

This year the tax is expected to amount to $30,000,000 and next year to $50,000,000. It should stay at about that figure until production gains and new sales increase the figure with the same tax base.

The High Authority. plans four uses for the tax money. They are:

1 — Administrative costs of the authority — which will not be high as Monnet has held his staff down below 300 persons and never plans to exceed that number.

2 — Research to find new ways of improving production and lowering costs in heavy industry where it applies to coal or steel usage.

3 — Workers' aid where marginal plants are curtailed or eliminated. This applies to relocation of workers and their families when old and worn-out locations are abandoned.

4 — To guarantee loans the authority will grant to members of the industry. The loans are to improve the plants or mines, build worker housing and other similar programs.

The first nation to send a diplomatic mission to the High Authority was Great Britain. The British government stressed it wanted to establish a "lasting and intimate association" with the European community. A few days later the U.S. named Ambassador David K. E. Bruce as the senior representative of the American mission.

Around the headquarters building Bruce is sometimes referred to as the "U.S. ambassador to united Europe" in that he represents the States with all organizations in Europe working toward that goal.

Meanwhile, Sweden and Norway have sent delegations and Denmark has expressed a desire to either join or at least become closely associated with the community. Switzerland, too, is expected to send representatives in the near future.

As an example of the importance of the authority's work, Monnet aides pointed out that in 1914 the six member nations contributed one-third of the world's industrial output. By 1952 the community produced but one-sixth of the world total. In the same period America trebled her production and the Soviet Union increased hers 10 times. By contrast the community had only increased its output by 40 per cent.

At first, European industrial leaders were cool to the Schuman Plan. But after a terrific "selling" job by Monnet the majority now are in hearty accord. Some dissenters still exist, of course, but even these are in the "lets-wait-and-see" class.

Monnet works tirelessly himself, and expects his co-workers to do the same. He frequently arrives early in the morning, plows through the daily work of an average executive before lunch, returns in the afternoon and always stays well into the night.

A 14-hour day is not uncommon for him. He gives the impression that even a wasted five minutes is going to delay the program. It was on his instructions that Air Wick deodorizers were placed on the conference table. They take away the need for occasional breaks for a breath of fresh air, he noted.

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