The ECSC Common Assembly's decision to create political groups: Writing a new chapter in transnational parliamentary history

12-06-2019

Political groups in the European Parliament contribute greatly to the institution's supranational character and are a most important element of its parliamentary work. Moreover, the Parliament's political groups have proven to be crucial designers of EU politics and policies. However, when the forerunner of today's Parliament, the Common Assembly of the Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), was established in 1952, the creation of political groups was not envisaged at all. Making use of its autonomy with regard to writing its rules of procedures, the ECSC Common Assembly unanimously decided, at its plenary session in June 1953, to allow the creation of political groups. With this decision, the ECSC Common Assembly became the world's first international assembly organised in political groups. This briefing analyses the decision of the ECSC Common Assembly to create political groups by bringing together political and historical science literature on the topic, as well as original sources from the Parliament's Historical Archives that record considerations and motives for the decision to create political groups. It will illustrate the complementary cultural, historical, organisational and financial reasons for this decision. Furthermore, it will demonstrate that, for the first ECSC Common Assembly members, it was highly important to take account of political affiliations in order to highlight the supranational character of the newly emerging Assembly. Finally, the briefing highlights that common work within the political groups was essential in helping to overcome early difficulties between the Assembly's members with different national backgrounds.

Political groups in the European Parliament contribute greatly to the institution's supranational character and are a most important element of its parliamentary work. Moreover, the Parliament's political groups have proven to be crucial designers of EU politics and policies. However, when the forerunner of today's Parliament, the Common Assembly of the Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), was established in 1952, the creation of political groups was not envisaged at all. Making use of its autonomy with regard to writing its rules of procedures, the ECSC Common Assembly unanimously decided, at its plenary session in June 1953, to allow the creation of political groups. With this decision, the ECSC Common Assembly became the world's first international assembly organised in political groups. This briefing analyses the decision of the ECSC Common Assembly to create political groups by bringing together political and historical science literature on the topic, as well as original sources from the Parliament's Historical Archives that record considerations and motives for the decision to create political groups. It will illustrate the complementary cultural, historical, organisational and financial reasons for this decision. Furthermore, it will demonstrate that, for the first ECSC Common Assembly members, it was highly important to take account of political affiliations in order to highlight the supranational character of the newly emerging Assembly. Finally, the briefing highlights that common work within the political groups was essential in helping to overcome early difficulties between the Assembly's members with different national backgrounds.