High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community

Former headquarters of the High Authority in Luxembourg

The High Authority was the executive branch of the former European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It was created in 1951 and disbanded in 1967 when it was merged into the European Commission.


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The High Authority was at the core of the idea of the ECSC. It was to be an independent, supranational executive checked by a Common Assembly.[1] There were concerns about this power, leading to a Council (of governments) and Parliament (of MPs) to be created to act as a counterweight.[2][3] The inaugural sitting of the Authority was held in Luxembourg's city hall on 10 August 1952. Jean Monnet, the architect of the ECSC, was elected as its first President.[4]

The supranational power exercised by the Authority did prompt suspicion by some, for example the government of France who ensured that in the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) more power would be in the hands of the Council.[3][5][6]

In 1967 the Merger Treaty came into force, which combined the independent institutions of the ECSC and Euratom with those of the EEC. From then on, the High Authority ceased to exist and its duties were taken on by the Commission of the European Communities. The administration of Rinaldo Del Bo ended before the merger so an interim President was appointed to oversee the merger, Albert Coppé.[7] The Authority met for the last time on the 28 June 1967.[8]

In force
Paris Treaty
Rome treaties
Merger Treaty
Lisbon Treaty
  Commission of the European Atomic Energy Community Commission of the European Communities European Commission   
High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community
  Commission of the European Economic Community


The Authority's principle innovation was its supranational character. It had a broad area of competence to ensure the objectives of the treaty were met and that the common market functioned smoothly. The High Authority could issue three types of legal instruments: Decisions, which were entirely binding laws; Recommendations, which had binding aims but the methods were left to member states; and Opinions, which had no legal force.[9]


The body consisted of nine members, nearly all appointed from the member states. The larger states, France, Germany and Italy, appointed two members each with the three smaller states, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands appointing one member each. The ninth member was the President, who was appointed by the eight other members.[9]

Despite being appointed by national governments, the members were not supposed to represent their national interest, but rather took an oath to defend the general interests of the Community as a whole. Their independence was aided by members being barred from having any occupation outside the Authority or having any business interests.[9]


The President was elected by the other appointed members, rather than directly by member states (as is the case of the current Commission President). The first president was Jean Monnet.

President State Took office Left office Authority
Jean Monnet France 10 August 1952 3 June 1955 Monnet Authority
René Mayer France 3 June 1955 13 January 1958 Mayer Authority
Paul Finet Belgium 13 January 1958 15 September 1959 Finet Authority
Piero Malvestiti Italy 15 September 1959 22 October 1963 Malvestiti Authority
Rinaldo Del Bo Italy 22 October 1963 6 July 1967 Del Bo Authority
Albert Coppé Belgium interim Coppé Authority


The headquarters of the High Authority were in Luxembourg city, the seat of most ECSC institutions. This was only intended as the provisional seat as no formal agreement was reached at the ECSC's conference in 1952.[10]

Luxembourg had proposed it be the provisional seat (except for the Common Assembly which was to be in Strasbourg) until an agreement was reached.[11] Future executives, the Commissions of the EEC and Euratom, would eventually be based in Brussels.[10]

See also


External links

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