Europe Day

Ladies and gentlemen and everyone in between, I am both glad and surprised to say that Europe Day exists.

How it all began

It all began a few decades ago. Exactly, the 1950s. At this time, Europe was still healing from the devastating aftermath of World War II. Lets remember that WWII ended in 1945.

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Let us remember that the Second World War was a global conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945.

Many participants threw their economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities into this war.

World War II is generally considered to have begun when Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland.

This war had many lasting consequences.

It has been estimated that 50 million people died. The winter of 1939-40 was exceptionally cold and there were shortages of coal. Germany was divided and remained so until 1990.

To maintain world peace, the Allies formed the United Nations, which officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 as a common standard for all member nations.

Determined to prevent another war, European governments concluded that pooling coal and steel production would make war between historic rivals France and Germany materially impossible.

So, The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949. However, the celebration was introduced in 1985 by the European Communities (the predecessor organization of the EU).

The date commemorates the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950.

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What happened was that Robert Schuman, the French foreign minister at the moment, gave a speech in Paris.

In the speech, he spoke about forming a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would benefit the participating countries economically and reduce the chance of any future war between Europe’s nations.

His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production.

The idea of the community was that its founding members – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg – would pool their coal and steel resources and create a common market for them by lifting import and export duties.

This day also goes by other names like the “Schuman Day” or the “Day of the United Europe.” On 9 May, Europeans celebrate peace and unity in Europe and the beginning of a new form of political cooperation between European states.

The ECSC was the first of a series of supranational European institutions that led to the creation of the European Union as we know it today.

A united Europe 

Only one year later, on 18 April 1951, representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg signed the Treaty of Paris (formally the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community) and established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), an organization based on the principle of supranationalism.

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A quick parenthesis, supranationalism is a type of international organization that is empowered to directly exercise some of the powers and functions otherwise reserved to states.

The ECSC evolved successfully thanks to a steady political project.

The original four institutions eventually turned into the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EU Council, and the European Court of Justice that we know today.

After the foundation of the European Union in 1993, Europe Day began getting stronger.

Something that is very telling is the fact that EU institutions open their doors to the public every year in Brussels and Strasbourg. As such, allowing citizens to visit these places.

Many of these organize commemorative events to honor the historical importance of the date.

Some of them are:

**European Parliament (EP)
**Council of the European Union
**European Commission (EC)
**European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
**The European Committee of the Regions (CoR)

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In 2020 and 2021, due to COVID-19 and the inability to host physical events, the EU institutions organized virtual acts to pay tribute to all those Europeans who were collaborating in the fight against the pandemic.

It is important to note that 2020 marked the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration and the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

In the 2022  Europe Day celebration, the main topic was youth. A celebration of a younger generation, united in diversity, a generation that is building the Europe of tomorrow.

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Europe Day is a public holiday for employees of European Union institutions. In 2019, it was declared a public holiday in Luxembourg and is also a public holiday in Kosovo.

In Germany, it has become much more than a one-day celebration. It is Europe Week. During this time “flag day” is celebrated (Beflaggungstag). A day when flags are ordered to be shown by federal decree.

It is a “memorial day” in Croatia. Europe Day is also celebrated in Romania, where it coincides with the State Independence Day of Romania (Romania’s independence day).

Between 2003 and 2023, Europe Day was celebrated in Ukraine on the third Saturday of May. On 8 May 2023, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, Ukrainian president, established a decree to celebrate Europe Day on May 9, coinciding with EU member states.

In 2023 Europe Day foccussed itself in the skills of people.

The European Year of Skills will empower people and companies to contribute to the green and digital transitions, supporting innovation and competitiveness.

Having a workforce with the skills that are in demand contributes to sustainable growth, leads to more innovation, and improves companies’ competitiveness.

At its core

At its core, Europe Day celebrates the idea of unity in diversity. Europe is a tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions. Europe Day serves as a reminder that despite our differences, we are stronger together.

Moreover, it is an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable progress that has been made since the founding of the European Union. In the aftermath of two devastating world wars, European leaders had the vision to forge a new path—one built on cooperation and integration.

In addition to its symbolic importance, Europe Day also catalyzes action. It is a time for European citizens to come together and engage in dialogue about the future of our continent.

Furthermore, Europe Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the European project. From the single market and the euro to initiatives promoting cultural exchange and educational opportunities, the European Union has enriched the lives of millions of Europeans. Europe Day allows us to recognize and appreciate these accomplishments while also acknowledging the work that remains to be done.

Concluding for the moment

For Europe and its leaders, youth has been a political priority, whether it be in terms of access to high-quality education, environmental protection, the digitalization of services, access to the labor market, or in terms of active participation in democratic life.

In today’s interconnected world, the importance of Europe Day extends beyond borders. As a global community, we are facing unprecedented challenges. Now more than ever, we need the spirit of cooperation and solidarity that Europe Day represents.

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Today, the European Union stands as a beacon of stability and democracy in a world often marred by conflict and division.

May 9 is an affirmation of peace over dictatorships. A peace that was not easy to achieve but that has led us to strengthen our countries through economic and political integration. It serves as a reminder of the values that bind us together and the challenges we must address collectively. As we mark this day, let us reaffirm our commitment to a Europe that is inclusive, democratic, and prosperous for generations to come.

Translated By: Solkes

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