Laying the foundation stone for today’s EU

The birth of the European Union

Europe Day

9 May is celebrated in all Member States of the European Union as Europe Day. It all started long time ago, with the emergence of monarchies. At that time it was common to celebrate civil and dynastic festivities, many of this celebrations were having a religious component, a royal wedding, coronations, etc. This kind of celebrations were usually accompanied by parades, competitions or tournaments. From the French Revolution onwards, however, popular and national festivals began to gain importance celebrating the achievement of freedom.

Civic festivals are an important way for preserving memory and keeping the past alive

This special day brings people together from different networks and relationships. It is very common that in all the Member States, for example, a special day is dedicated to national festivals. The National Day is often the day on which the State gain its independence; sometimes it is the day on which the Patron Saint is celebrated, or any other day of particular importance for the nation.

the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman
the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman

The Constitutional Treaty establishes 9 May as Europe Day, in memory of the declaration made by the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, on 9 May, which is generally regarded as the birth of the European Union. You can find more about Robert Schuman in our course “The Founding Fathers”.

The celebration on 9 May is not only the anniversary of the founding act of the European unification process. It also offers the possibility to become aware and reflect on the current and present moment that is changing every day. It celebrates the reality of living in a European Union founded on the principles of the rule of law, with a democratic order based on popular sovereignty and on values that are now shared by the overwhelming majority of the European people. The purpose of the celebration must be precisely to remember the long path we have travelled to consolidate these principles and values. We should not take all these achievements and victories for granted.

On 9 May we celebrate a yearly opportunity to bring Europe and its institutions closer to the citizens

It is an information, guidance and discussion day for all themes related to the European Union. Especially in schools and universities, this aim of highlighting and discussing European Union issues will apply though initiatives with cultural and educational content.  The celebration of the Europe Day must also be an opportunity to overcome the feeling of distance and indifference towards Europe and bring the citizens closer to the European institutions. It is the moment when the symbols of the European Union are especially relevant and should play an active part. Most of the basic concepts relating to the European integration are represented by symbols that make the idea of citizenship visible, real and understandable. Therefore, the role of these symbols in building and shaping a European identity is therefore crucial.

As with national holidays, what we needed is a strong presence of European flags. This should happen not only at the places designated for the celebrations where events are being held but also, and in particular, at all windows. Finally, 9 May should be a day when men and women from different cities, regions and countries of our Europe can meet and celebrate together.

Memoclip from Robert Schuman

Robert Schuman was one of the most important founding fathers of the European Union today. In the video you can see a summary of his work from 1947 until his death in 1963.

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