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Europe Celebrates Its Fiftieth

  • March 24th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

berlin-banner.jpgThe fiftieth anniversary of the European Union is being marked at Berlin this weekend (24-25.3.07) with a street party at the Brandenburg Gate and a summit of heads of government of the 27 member countries.

The leaders of those member states have negotiated a formal statement, the Berlin Declaration, to look back at achievements and set out some future goals.

They have pointed to expansion since six countries – Belgium, France, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and the then West Germany – formed the original European Coal and Steel Community; saying at the time that sharing the main resources for war, would clear the way for prosperity and peace.

The heads of government say that promise has generally been realised.

Agreed future challenges include climate change and energy security, and new efforts to write a European constitution, to make the management of this large group yet-more democratic and more flexible.

The founding 1957 Treaty of Rome had a preamble declaring for an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.”

It set out express goals: economic and social progress; improvement of living and working conditions; balanced trade and fair competition; abolition of restrictions on international trade; harmonious development by reducing restrictions among regions; solidarity among European and overseas countries; and pooling of national resources to preserve peace and liberty.

Founders like the German Chancellor of the day, Konrad Adenauer, or the French
civil servant Jean Monnet, had an acclaimed vision; their declaration became in effect a road map followed over the last five decades.

Others like Winston Churchill, in England, grasped the “European idea”; he spoke of “a kind of United States of Europe.”

At the time Germany was divided and the European economy was still struggling with the after-effects of the Second World War.

The European Union today has over half-a-billion people, a single currency shared by many of the member states, a strong open market, and free and peaceful movement across the continent.

Germany, and Europe, are no longer split between East and West, and so symbolically, Berlin, the formerly divided city, was chosen to host celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary.

Picture: Berlin celebrations logo, the Brandenburg Gate; European Council