The Importance of Europe Day 2022

Today, 9 May, we celebrate Europe Day across the EU. This is the annual celebration of the European Union's foundation and the beginning of a long peace period in the European continent following WWII. This day, and every year, we Europeans remind ourselves of all the things that connect us despite our differences.

Let's learn more about Europe Day, its history, and why 2022 is a significant year.

What is Europe Day

Europe Day on 9 May commemorates the signing of the Schuman Declarationin 1950. This day also goes by other names like the "Schuman Day" or the "Day of the United Europe." On 9 May, Europeans celebrate peace and unity in Europe and the beginning of a new form of political cooperation between European states.

The signing of the Schuman declaration 72 years ago proposed the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg were its founding members seeking the pool of coal and steel production. The idea of this increased cooperation was to eliminate the possibility of a new war in Europe. In the declaration's words, ECSC's objective was to make war "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible."

The ECSC was the first of a series of supranational European institutions that led to the creation of the European Union as we know it today. The choice of 9 May to celebrate Europe Day was not random, but it had a lot to do with the end of WWII.

Victory in Europe Day (VE Day)

The end of WWII and Europe Day, which is essentially the beginning of the EU, have more in common than you may think.

Besides celebrating European integration on 9 May, countries mainly in East Europe celebrate the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. The rest of Europe celebrate victory in Europe on the previous day, 8 May. This difference is due to Germany signing two separate surrender agreements with allies, one being late at night when it was already 9 May in Moscow.

The atrocities of WWII saw the killing of 50-60 million people, the destruction of whole cities, and the uprooting of more than 20 million others. With Europe lying in ruins, peace became a paramount priority for European leaders to rebuild what was lost and avoid the horrors of war at all costs. This strong sentiment for unity and longing for peace planted the seeds on which the European Construct was later developed.

What is special about 2022

Europe day in 2022 is even more significant as it coincides with Russia's continuous and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine. This day is the perfect occasion to reaffirm Europe's commitment to peace and, at the same time, to show unity and solidarity to Ukraine and its people. Universal values like freedom and democracy remain core European values that Europe seeks to instill in a rules-based global order.

With Europe facing war once more, millions of people are forcibly removed from their homes, primarily women and children. Unfortunately, during a war, the most vulnerable members of society take the brunt of the suffering.

As 2022 is named the European Year of Youth, Europe wants to shine a light on the importance of European youth in building a better, greener, inclusive, and more digital future. Europe Day is the perfect opportunity to discuss the challenges that Europeans face today and come up with solutions to deal with them.

European Institutions have prepared a series of events to celebrate Europe Day.