Happy Europe Day

9 May is celebrated annually as Europe Day. It marks the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration that was proposed by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in 1950 and that was to be the foundation for the establishment of what later became the European Union.

The Schuman Declaration proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, whose members would pool coal and steel production. The ECSC (founding members: 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”. In 1950, the nations of Europe were still struggling to overcome the devastation wrought by World War II, which had ended 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”. As is often said, the European Union is perhaps the biggest and most ambitious project ever in the history of the world. The European Union is not without its problems, yet its benefits to European and indeed to the world is often underestimated. As was stated in the Schuman Declaration sixty five years ago, “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”

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 European Union now consists of 28 countries with a combined area of over 4 million km² and has 503 million inhabitants — the world’s third largest population after China and India. By surface area, France is the biggest EU country and Malta the smallest.

europe day 2015

Operating as a single market with 28 countries, the EU is a major world trading power. EU economic policy seeks to sustain growth by investing in transport, energy and research – while minimising the impact of further economic development on the environment. The EU’s economy — measured in terms of the goods and services it produces (GDP) — is now bigger than the US’s: EU GDP in 2013: €13 529 099.6 million. With just 7% of the world’s population, the EU’s trade with the rest of the world accounts for around 20% of global exports and imports. Around two-thirds of EU countries’ total trade is done with other EU countries.

We wish all European, and their friends, Happy Europe Day 2015.