Europe Day, in EU member states also known as Schuman Day is an annual celebration of peace and unity in Europe. Council of Europe (CoE) member states celebrate it on 5 May (since 1964) to reflect the establishment of CoE in 1949, while EU has its separate day on 9 May- formally recognized as the holiday by European Parliament in October 2008- to commemorate Schuman Declaration of 9 may 1950.
“National” day of EU
What we know now as a Schuman Declaration is French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman’s proposal of pooling French and West German coal and steel industries.
It was supposed to help maintain peaceful cooperation and development of European Countries. It is a common knowledge that European Coal and Steel Community was the very beginning of the EU, thus the Declaration is considered to be the act that created the EU. Celebrating such an important anniversary in EU member states is obvious, however it is worth to note that Europe Day is also a very special day in EU candidate countries such as Turkey. What is more, Ukraine celebrates Europe Day on the third Saturday of May, since 2003.
What is the Europe Day for?
Political nature of the day is indisputable. That is why it may be a reason for teaching people about, not only the history, but also about the importance of the EU. Also, it is a great opportunity to speak in support of European integration.
Each year’s Europe Day has a different theme. This year, the topic was Growing Stronger Together. The main idea was to promote solidarity between member states and EU’s citizens. Within the scope of 2015’ motto the EU institutions opened their doors to the public in Strasburg on 2nd May and on 9th May in Brussels and Luxemburg. Local EU offices in Europe (all over the world too!) organized a variety of events in cooperation with European Commission and European Parliament. For example in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, the Schuman Parade and Schuman City or European City are arranged annually on 9th May, however in 2015 it was also possible to visit European Parliament Information Office and buildings of Polish Parliament. Celebrating Schuman Day in Poland will last till 12th May and will end during the Museums’ Night.
Countries which are member states of CoE, but not of the EU, celebrates Europe Day little bit earlier (5th May) and it is said that date is rather connected with a promotion of human rights, while Schuman Day (9th May) is an element of EU’ image. Europe Day together with EU flag are now commonly known symbols of the EU. It seems like May is an appropriate month for international celebration of peace, if we take into consideration the fact that 8th May is a Victory Day marking the capitulation of Nazi Germany and the end of World War II in Europe in 1945.
Someone may say that any reason is good enough to celebrate. With no doubt, the anniversary of the beginning of the EU should be recognized as a holiday. Isn’t over half century of peaceful development in Europe a perfect cause to incredible happiness?