Europe Day is held on the 9th May every year and celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman Declaration’.
At a speech in Paris in 1950, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.
In 1950, the nations of Europe were still struggling to overcome the devastation wrought by World War II, which had ended only 5 years earlier.
Determined to prevent another such terrible war, European governments concluded that pooling coal and steel production would – in the words of the Declaration – make war between historic rivals France and Germany, “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”.
The Schuman Declaration was presented by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950. It proposed the creation in 1951 of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), whose members would pool coal and steel production.
The ECSC whose Inner Six founding members were France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg was the first of a series of supranational European institutions that would ultimately become today’s “European Union”.
It was thought – correctly – that merging of economic interests would help raise standards of living and be the first step towards a more united Europe. Membership of the ECSC was open to other countries.
The EU traces its origins thereafter from the European Economic Community (EEC), formed in 1958. In the intervening years, the community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states, and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit.
The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993 and introduced the European Citizenship.
The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.
Please come along and join the Europe Direct Information Centre Outer Hebrides as we celebrate a special 65th anniversary for Europe Day at An Lanntair, on the 8th of May, from 10am to 1pm. We will have an information stand with lots of free EU information and resources including material regarding your rights as an EU citizen, and on Europe Day for you.