1st Robert Schuman Lecture: Luxembourg, the first capital of a united Europe

  • Europe Direct University of Luxembourg
    06 May 2021

The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), prefigured by Robert Schuman’s declaration on 9 May 1950, came into existence on 18 April 1951, when the representatives of six founding states – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – concluded the Treaty of Paris for a 50-year period. The institutional architecture of this first European Community shaped the current balance of powers in the European Union, with the High Authority (now the European Commission), a supranational executive; the Special Council of Ministers embodying the national interest; the Common Assembly (now the European Parliament) representing citizens; and the Court of Justice, an independent body.

In July 1952, Luxembourg City was chosen as the provisional location of the ECSC. On 10 August 1952, the High Authority moved into the building that now houses the Spuerkeess bank. Later that year, on 10 December, the ECSC Court of Justice held its formal inaugural session at the Cercle Municipal, on the Place d’Armes. The judges’ chambers were housed in the Villa Vauban. From 1952 to 1954, the Special Council of Ministers regularly met in the great chamber of Luxembourg City Hall. Luxembourg City therefore became one of the seats of the European Communities, alongside Strasbourg, which hosted the Common Assembly, and Brussels from 1958 onwards following the creation of the European Economic Community and Euratom. The merger of the Community executive bodies in 1965 confirmed Luxembourg’s role as Europe’s legal and financial headquarters. It was only in 1992 that the Edinburgh European Council enshrined Luxembourg, Brussels and Strasbourg as “permanent capitals” of the European Union. The ECSC Treaty marked the start of Luxembourg’s European vocation as a founding state and leading player in the European integration process, and that of Luxembourg City as the “first capital of a united Europe”.

In the run-up to Europe Day, looking back at the milestones in the history of the ECSC and examining Luxembourg’s European destiny, the Europe Direct Information Centre at the University of Luxembourg and its partners:

  • based in Luxembourg – the Representation of the European Commission and the European Parliament Liaison Office in Luxembourg, the Fondation du Mérite Européen, the European Movement, the Robert Schuman Initiative for European Affairs (University of Luxembourg), the Robert Schuman House in Luxembourg (University / Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History), the European Museum Schengen and EDIC Schengen –
  • and in Europe – the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence, Europeana Digital Library, the European Parliament Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services, the Archives of the European Parliament, the European Parliament Network of Political Houses and Foundations of Great Europeans, the Robert Schuman House in Scy-Chazelles and the Moselle département (France) –, invite you to the 1st Robert Schuman Lecture:
“Luxembourg, the first capital of a united Europe”

On 6 May 2021 from 14.00 to 16.00 via Webex (in French, with simultaneous interpretation into English).


14.00 – Opening
  • Welcome and introductory remarks – Dr Elena Danescu, coordinator of EDIC University of Luxembourg
  • Opening address – Prof. Dr Stéphane Pallage, rector of the University of Luxembourg
  • Video message – Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Honorary President of the Fondation du Mérite européen
14.15 – The Robert Schuman Lecture – Inaugural Lecture
  • “The Treaty of Paris: from negotiation to ratification” Prof. Sylvain Schirmann, honorary director of Sciences Po Strasbourg, University of Strasbourg; Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Robert Schuman House in Scy-Chazelles
15.00 – Memory of Europe
  • Video message – Dr Dieter Schlenker, director of the Historical Archives of the European Union, Florence
  •  “Luxembourg, a European destiny. From the Schuman Declaration to the inauguration of the ECSC institutions” (multimedia presentation/virtual exhibition) – Dr Étienne Deschamps, historian in the European Parliamentary Research Service. You can download Dr Étienne Deschamps’ presentation (in French).
  • “A Luxembourger in the European institutions” – Martine Reicherts, president of the European Movement Luxembourg, former Member of the European Commission, former Director of the Publications Office of the European Union
15.25 – Future perspectives
  • Charles Goerens, member of the European Parliament, discusses the aims of the Conference on the Future of Europe
  • Debate between the speakers and the audience/question and answer session – moderated by Elena Danescu, EDIC coordinator
15.50 – Closing address – Stephan Koppelberg

Stephan Koppelberg is acting representative of the European Commission in Luxembourg

Presentation of the speakers

Xavier Bettel

Xavier Bettel has a master’s degree in public and European law from the Faculty of Law, followed by a DEA (post-graduate diploma of advanced studies) in political sciences and public law. Following the legislative elections of 20 October 2013, Xavier Bettel was appointed Prime Minister, Minister of State, Minister for Communications and Media and Minister for Religious Affairs on 4 December 2013 in the coalition government formed by the Democratic Party (DP), the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP) and the Green Party (déi gréng). Following the resignation of Maggy Nagel from the government, Xavier Bettel was appointed Minister of Culture on 18 December 2015. After the legislative elections of 14 October 2018, Xavier Bettel was appointed Prime Minister, Minister of State, Minister for Communications and Media, Minister for Religious Affairs, Minister for Digitalisation and Minister for Administrative Reform on 5 December 2018 in the coalition government formed by the DP, the LSAP and déi gréng. Read his full biography.

Stéphane Pallage

Stéphane Pallage has a Master’s degree in Industrial Administration (Finance) and a Ph.D. in economics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA. As a professor of the University of Quebec in Montreal, he worked extensively on applied macroeconomics, dynamic general equilibrium models, international aid, and the fight against child labour. He was the Dean of the School of Management at the University of Quebec in Montreal from 2013 to 2017. He is currently the Rector of the University of Luxembourg. Read his full biography.

Elena Danescu

Elena Danescu is a Research Scientist at the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH), Contemporary History of Europe Department. She also is the coordinator of EDIC University of Luxembourg. Read her full biography.

Sylvain Schirmann

Sylvain Schirmann is a professor at the Paul-Verlaine University in Metz and at the University of Strasbourg. After a period at the University of Luxembourg, Professor Schirmann joined and then directed the Institut d’études politiques de Strasbourg (IEP), as well as . Centre d’histoire et civilisation de l’Europe occidentale de Metz. A member of numerous scientific committees, he chairs that of the Maison Robert-Schuman in the Moselle department and is the general secretary of the International Association of Contemporary Historians of Europe. Sylvain Schirmann’s main publications include “Histoire de l’Allemagne” (1992) and “Quel ordre européen ? De Versailles à la chute du IIIe Reich” (2006).

Dieter Schlenker

Dieter Schlenker is the Director of the Historical Archives of the European Union since January 2013 and the Co-director of the Alcide De Gasperi Research Centre. Before, he worked for UNESCO, first as archivist at the Paris Headquarters, then as head of the Information and Knowledge Management Unit in Bangkok, Thailand. Previously, he worked as Records Manager at Ford Company European Headquarters in Cologne and at FAO Headquarters in Rome. Describing himself as “an archivist by profession and heart”, Schlenker holds an Archivist Diploma from the Archival School of the Vatican Secret Archive and a PhD in Modern History from the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Etienne Deschamps

Etienne Deschamps holds a PhD in Contemporary History from the European University Institute in Florence and is an affiliated researcher at the Université catholique de Louvain. He works at the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services within the European Parliament Secretariat. He was previously a curator at the House of European History before becoming head of outreach and dissemination for the Historical Archives of the European Parliament. He is currently a member of the European Parliament Library. His research focuses on European integration history and the history of colonisation. He is also a member of the Academic Committee for the Robert Schuman House.

Martine Reicherts

Martine Reicherts has held multiple positions during her career. She was Deputy Head of Cabinet in the cabinet of President Jacques Santer, as well as his spokesperson. She was also Director General of the Publications Office of the European Union, European Commissioner in charge of the Justice portfolio for 4 months, Director General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. Since February 2018, she has been a member of the board of the Central Bank in Luxembourg and since December 2019, she is President of the National Research Fund in Luxembourg. Mrs Reicherts is also President of the Luxembourg Federation of Yoga Teachers, member of the strategic council, University of Aix/Marseille, France, member of the board of the Alumni Europae, member of the board of the Solistes européens Luxembourg and President of the Mouvement européen Luxembourg.

Charles Goerens

Charles Goerens is a Luxembourg politician, member of the Democratic Party (DP). In 1979, he was elected to the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies. He was re-elected in 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2004. In October 2013, he resigned as a member of the Luxembourg Parliament. He was a Member of the European Parliament from 1982 to 1984, then from 1994 to 1999, and from 2009 to date, and sits in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group. From 1987 to 1990, he was President of the Assembly of Western European Union. From 1989 to 1994 and from 2006 to 2009 he was President of the Democratic Party (Luxembourg). From 1999 to 2004, he was Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Cooperation, Humanitarian Action and Defence. In May 2013, Charles Goerens was appointed rapporteur on the legislative proposal for the 2015 European Year of Development Cooperation.

Stephan Koppelberg

Stephan Koppelberg he is the former Head of the Regional Representation in Bonn. Today, he is a team leader in the Directorate General Communication in charge of political and economic intelligence at the European Commission. He is also Acting Head of the European Commission Representation in Luxembourg.

Webinar Recording

Webinar 6 Mai 2021