This weekend sees the celebration of Europe Day which is the day all Europeans celebrate as citizens of the EU. Over the next week, we’ll be publishing work from our contributors on what it means for them to European. We begin with an inspired piece from Divine Gonsalves who gives us a quick recap on how the EU was formed as well as a message about living in the EU.
On the 9th of May 1950, then foreign minister of France, Robert Schuman, proposed during a speech that a new political form of cooperation that would prevent war; in fact, it would ensure that there would be no more wars in Europe. This speech came to be known as the Schuman Declaration. This declaration is the reason that the EU exists.
That speech was made five years after World War II and during this time, Europe was recovering from the destruction of the conflict. This Declaration meant that Europe would share its resources like coal and steel instead of nations competing with each other, especially France and Germany which were rivals, would prevent further wars. This also meant that the standard of living was raised and Europe would be a more unified continent.
Finally, on the 1st of January 1958, the European Economic Community (EEC), otherwise known as the common market, came into existence. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg were the founding members. Over time, these member states also allowed other European countries to join them – in 1973, Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom joined, followed by Greece in 1981. Portugal and Spain were next to follow in 1986. A big moment happened in 1993, when the EEC became the European Union. Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined in 1995. and a total of ten countries joined in 2004. They were Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. 2007 saw Bulgaria and Romania become members and finally, in 2013, Croatia became the twenty-eighth country to join. Waiting to be members are Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey. Possible countries that could become candidates are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
Europe Day is a day to commemorate Europe’s unification, the reason for peace and stability among European countries. Europe Day is a day to celebrate the integration of Europeans and to celebrate their diversity.
So this Europe Day, celebrate your national day. Celebrate that you, a European, are living “United in Diversity” and celebrating the multicultural bloc that has provided so many benefits to its citizens.
Happy Europe Day, fellow Europeans.