Jean Monnet, (born Nov. 9, 1888, Cognac, France—died March 16, 1979, Houjarray), French political economist and diplomat who initiated comprehensive economic planning in western Europe after World War II.
In May 1950 he and Robert Schuman, then the French foreign minister, proposed the establishment of a common European market for coal and steel by countries willing to delegate their powers over these industries to an independent authority. Six countries—France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg—signed the treaty in 1951 that set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). From 1952 to 1955 Monnet served as the first president of the ECSC’s High Authority. The ECSC inspired the creation of the European Economic Community, or Common Market, in 1957.
In 1955 Monnet organized the Action Committee for the United States of Europe and served as its president from 1956 to 1975. In 1976 the heads of the nine Common Market governments named Monnet a Citizen of Europe.