A € 2 commemorative coin
“25 March 1957… this will be one of the greatest dates in European history …”
Those were the words pronounced by Paul-Henri Spaak at the time of the signing of the Treaties in Rome by the countries forming the Europe of the Six (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg). The Treaties were an important step towards the unification of Europe.
In May 1945, at the end of the Second World War, Europe was, once more, in ruins. To avoid a new destructive conflict some politicians became aware that cooperation and unity were indispensable within Europe. The threat of a nuclear war played an important role in this new political awareness. The Schuman declaration on 9 May 1950, marked a first step. Robert Schuman, the French minister of Foreign Affairs, and Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor, agreed to take decisions about the production of coal and steel henceforth under the control of a supranational authority. To commemorate that occasion, 9 May was declared “Europe Day”. The Benelux countries and Italy joined the agreement and in 1951, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was created. This paved the road to the Treaties of Rome.
Stimulated by some important pioneers of the European idea, such as the Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs, Paul-Henri Spaak, the former president of the ECSC, Jean Monnet and the German secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Walter Hallstein, the Treaties were signed on the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, on 25 March 1957. Two unions were created: Euratom and the Common Market.
The signature of the Treaties is the subject of an amusing anecdote: the day of the signature, the final layout was not ready. Instead, the ministers had to sign in blank! However, at the time of the sealing, which marked the official adoption of the Treaties, everything was put in order.
Within the Common Market, there is free movement of persons, goods, services and capital. This could only made possible thanks to the will of the six Member States to co-ordinate their social, monetary and fiscal policies and their will to conduct a common economic policy.
The place of the Treaties within European unification
The Treaties of Rome have opened the long road towards European integration. A road that took us to many discussions and plans such as the “Werner-Plan” (1970), the “Delors Report” (1989) but also to the enlargement of the Community by the addition of, to begin with, Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark (1973) and Bulgaria and Romania as the most recent member states (2007). The “Maastricht Treaty” (1992) marked a breakthrough. In the wake of the decisions taken in Rome in 1957 the Maastricht Treaty provided for the construction of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) with the idea of a common currency (Euro) and a European central bank (ECB).
One European commemorative coin
The members of the euro area have decided to issue on 25 March 2007 a common 2 € commemorative coin to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the signature of the Treaties of Rome. Millions of coins were minted in the thirteen countries. The national side, represents for the first time a common design: the document the six founding members signed, with, on the back, a pavement symbolising the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, where the official event took place. The written indication “Treaty of Rome 50 years”, “Europe”, and the name of the issuing country appear in the respective languages or in Latin. On the coin struck by the Royal Mint of Belgium, you can read “Europe” and “Belgium” in the three official languages (Dutch, French and German) whereas the written indication “Treaty of Rome 50 years” is in Latin. Like all the other 2 € commemorative coins, this one has also legal course in the euro area.
By the way, it is not the first time that Belgium commemorates the Treaties of Rome by minting a coin. It was already the case in 1987 and 1997 when the thirtieth and fortieth anniversaries of the Treaties were celebrated. These coins have the peculiarity of having their value in ECU, the European Currency Unit, which can be considered as the precursor of the euro. Apart from the 2 € commemorative coin, museumobject of May 2007, the museum also displays the gold coin of 50 ECU from 1987, bearing the effigy of Charles V . You will find this coin in showcase 20 (no 15).
According the importance of the Treaties of Rome, you understand that they deserve several commemorative coins!
Marie Pasteger & Thomas Wieme
Museum of the National Bank of Belgium, A story of money, p. 32.
“Rome, entre l’avenir et le passé”, in Connect, Staff magazine of the National Bank of Belgium, 2, March 2007, 6-7.
Royal Mint of Belgium, Monnaie Info, 43, March 2007, p. 5