Schuman and Monnet saw effective institutions as the only way of creating a common market in coal and steel. Key aims included the coordination of investment, the organisation of production and the imposition of price controls, in full compliance with the rules on competition and social welfare.

Joint management of coal and steel resources would be carried out by a financially independent institution, the High Authority, capable of functioning as a collegiate body comprising independent eminent persons; it would be an embryonic European government. By virtue of its duty to act in the general interest, the High Authority was an ingenious response to the problem of competing national interests.