May 9 – Europe Day – is traditionally held every year to mark the anniversary of the historical “Schuman Declaration” and to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. Every year in May, the European Union institutions and agencies across the old continent as well as in its offices all over the world organize a variety of activities for all ages to mark the day and raise awareness about the EU.
The idea behind the European community was that its founding members – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – would pool their steel and coal resources by lifting import and export duties. The rationale behind was both economic and political. French foreign minister Robert Schuman’s proposition came just five years after World War II with the intention to boost post-war economy and the idea that by merging the economic interests of France and Germany, risk of conflict between the two rival powers would be reduced in the future. The Schuman declaration pledged that “the solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”
The EU’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, began her Europe Day 2017 address on the defensive: “The future of the European Union is a choice – a choice that belongs to every European citizen and matters to the entire world. This year the European Union has turned sixty: sixty years of peace, of protection for our workers, of opportunities for our business, of liberty and rights. But the future of Europe is not something we inherit from our founding fathers and mothers. The European Union is the values we believe in, the partnerships we build in the world, the mirror of our European society. Europe is what we, Europeans, make of it – every single day, each one of us.”