This is the European flag. It is the symbol not only of the European Union but also of Europe’s unity and identity in a wider sense. The circle of gold stars represents solidarity and harmony between the peoples of Europe.
The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of Member States. There are twelve stars because the number twelve is traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity. The flag therefore remains unchanged regardless of EU enlargements.
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This is the anthem not only of the European Union but also of Europe in a wider sense. The melody comes from the Ninth Symphony composed in 1823 by Ludwig Van Beethoven.
For the final movement of this symphony, Beethoven set to music the “Ode to Joy” written in 1785 by Friedrich von Schiller. This poem expresses Schiller’s idealistic vision of the human race becoming brothers – a vision Beethoven shared.
In 1972, the Council of Europe (the same body that designed the European flag) adopted Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” theme as its own anthem. The well-known conductor Herbert Von Karajan was asked to write three instrumental arrangements – for solo piano, for wind instruments and for symphony orchestra. Without words, in the universal language of music, this anthem expresses the ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity for which Europe stands.
In 1985, it was adopted by EU heads of State and government as the official anthem of the European Union. It is not intended to replace the national anthems of the Member States but rather to celebrate the values they all share and their unity in diversity.
The motto means that, via the EU, Europeans are united in working together for peace and prosperity, and that the many different cultures, traditions and languages in Europe are a positive asset for the continent.
On the 9th of May 1950, Robert Schuman presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations.
This proposal, known as the “Schuman declaration”, is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union.
Today, the 9th of May has become a European symbol (Europe Day) which, along with the flag, the anthem, the motto and the single currency (the euro), identifies the political entity of the European Union. Europe Day is the occasion for activities and festivities that bring Europe closer to its citizens and peoples of the Union closer to one another.
The euro is the most tangible proof of European integration – the euro (€) is the official common currency in 17 out of 28 EU countries and used by some 332 million people every day. The benefits of the common currency are immediately obvious to anyone travelling abroad or shopping online on websites based in another EU country.