In making his revolutionary declaration on 9 May 1950, Schuman wanted to create a shock wave which would effectively kick-start the European integration process. In government, industrial and trade union circles, consternation at the announcement was all the greater because the surprise was total.

The French proposal was a political bombshell. It was also a leap into the unknown. Prepared in secret, the Schuman Declaration sought to change the European mindset in order to win over public opinion and force governments to reach agreement.