September 2016 Opinion

Co-operating in space transcends national identity

ROOM is an open forum for comment and opinion - and actively encourages contributions. To promote debate, discussion and inspiration we publish commentaries and opinions by space leaders, academia and those involved directly or indirectly in aerospace and space exploration.

France from the International Space Station.
France from the International Space Station.
Jacques Arnould Jacques Arnould Ethics Adviser, Direction de la communication, Paris, France

ROOM is an open forum for comment and opinion - and actively encourages contributions. To promote debate, discussion and inspiration we publish commentaries and opinions by space leaders, academia and those involved directly or indirectly in aerospace and space exploration. Here, Jacques Arnould proposes that space has played a role beyond what we might imagine in uniting the countries of Europe over the past five decades, creating a bond for peace and cooperation that was first envisaged by the founding fathers of a united Europe.

In May 1950, the French minister of foreign affairs made a speech from the l’Horloge du Quai d’Orsay in Paris, in which he famously launched the European coal and steel community project.

Born to a French father, who became a German national after the war in 1870, and a mother from Luxembourg who became a French citizen after the treaty of Versailles in 1919, he was a member of the first government of Vichy before escaping to the ‘free zone’.

As a member of French parliament since 1946 and drawing on his rich experience of life, Schumann asserted: “World peace can only be safeguarded with the efforts of its creators at the level of the dangers that threatens it.” He spoke of the necessity to construct a united Europe in order to assure peace in the world - and discussed the efforts needed to get there.

His proposal was specific and began by placing the joint production of French and German coal and steel under a joint high-level authority in an organisation which is open to participation of the other European countries. “We have,” concluded the French minister, “to not only make war unthinkable but also physically impossible.”

This Schumann speech is considered one of the founding texts of Europe. And reading it again brings to mind one single undertaking in which many European countries have engaged for more than 50 years - the exploration and exploitation of space.

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