Le Cercle Municipal, Luxembourg

Sixty years ago today, in Luxembourg, in Le Cercle Municipal, the Special Council of Ministers of the European Coal and Steel Community met for the very first time.  The Chairman of the three-day meeting was German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Among the Special Council’s first decisions were the adoption of its Rules of Procedure and the creation of its Secretariat. The Special Council would not hold its second meeting until 1-2 December 1952. Unlike today’s six-monthly rotation, the chairmanship changed every three months, in alphabetical order. As his memoirs made absolutely clear, during the Paris Treaty negotiations Jean Monnet was strongly opposed to the creation of the Special Council, which he saw as dangerous intergovernmental pollution of what he thought should be a purely supranational project. He only grudgingly accepted the creation of the Special Council, like the Court, because the smaller member states, fearing Franco-German hegemony, insisted on an inter-governmental backstop and a right of appeal. If he were alive today, Monnet would be forced to recognise that the Special Council and its successor institution, the Council of Ministers (with Coreper behind it), have been indispensable and invaluable parts of the integration process.