Europe Day: Why we feel European

The 9th of May is Europe Day and it commemorates the first move towards the creation of what has become the European Union. This celebration acknowledges the importance of the role Robert Schuman played in the beginning of the European Coal and Steel Community, and the process of integration which this instigated.  Schuman and Monnet were indeed visionaries and played a key part in the official history of European integration emerging from the fragile post war Europe and this is why May 9th is Europe day.

The declaration dates back to the 9th May 1950. Delivered by Robert Schuman, who at that time was the French Foreign Minister, it was inspired by Jean Monnet, the first Planning Commissioner, and laid out the basis of a European organization that would be responsible for pooling the French and German production of coal and steel.

The Schuman Plan aimed to render war ‘not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible’. It would make France acknowledge the Federal Republic of Germany as an equal trading partner and the responsibility for both countries' coal and steel industries being handed over to a supranational authority. This would be a bold step for France to take, given the history between the countries.

Schuman himself saw little value in borders, and was particularly keen on forging strong ties between France, Germany and the United Kingdom. From the very beginning, the ECSC aimed to pursue the creation of single markets and the expansion of production. Schuman, a Luxembourger, was a former resistance fighter and a Vichy prisoner. His only book “For Europe” demonstrates his argument that Europe should become a community of culture and a genuine democracy.

His reflections are still at the basis of the EU as we know it today, though the European Union is much more structured and sophisticated than the Coal and Steel Community, with its institutions being more evolved and their scope expanded (especially the European Parliament, that now has co-decision powers).

The specific challenges that the European Union faces today – humanitarian, economic and sovereign – find an echo in the words of the Schuman Declaration: ‘World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.’

As Greens, we are fighting to reset the EU. In the European Parliament, we have always been very vocal about the need to strengthen this transnational democracy and make it more transparent, democratic and efficient.

We have always advocated for transnational lists, as they are linked to a vision of a more democratic, open and inclusive Europe, and could help to open a debate among political forces and candidates on the different options for the EU, beyond national priorities and dynamics.

But today we would like to use this celebration to go back the very basis of this fight: we want to underline why we are pro-Europeans and why we feel European. Our co-chairs started by explaining their reasons. We would be happy to hear your voice too! 

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