Today is Europe Day, in memory of the Schuman Declaration outlining a vision to pull together the warring countries of Europe into a single entity. For 60 years now the countries of Europe have been slowly tearing down old borders and creating a continent of peace and freedom. There will be yet more work on developing the European Union further, but for Europe Day we should recognise the incredible achievements of the European Union.
The institutions of the EU were developed to bring peace and prosperity to the continent of Europe and have been so wildly successful that today euroskeptics think of a peaceful Europe as so natural that the treaties are unnecessary. When the first treaties were signed, the Brussels Treaty in 1948 and the Treaty of Paris in 1951, Europe was in tatters after yet another war. The people of Europe were trapped by national borders and subject to capricious rules and regulations. Today, thanks to integration, a war between France and Germany is simply unthinkable. Now, due to the Schengen Agreement, all citizens of the European Union are free to travel and work across old borders unhindered. With the Erasmus program, a new generation of European youth are being educated in diversity and pan-European understanding. Thanks to the Euro, markets operate freely across 16 countries and travel no longer involves dozens of currencies. With infrastructure programs Europe is linked by high-speed rail where borders no longer exist. Due to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, each citizen can stand up against unfair legislation driven by national populism, and even a State has to defend its actions in the European Court of Justice. Behind the scenes the European Union has been demolishing absurdities and making Europe a better continent to live in than ever before.
Robert Schuman, 9th May 1950:
"It is no longer a question of vain words but of a bold act, a constructive act. France has acted and the consequences of its action can be immense. We hope they will be. France has acted primarily for peace and to give peace a real chance.
For this it is necessary that Europe should exist. Five years, almost to the day, after the unconditional surrender of Germany, France is accomplishing the first decisive act for European construction and is associating Germany with this. Conditions in Europe are going to be entirely changed because of it.
This transformation will facilitate other action which has been impossible until this day.
Europe will be born from this, a Europe which is solidly united and constructed around a strong framework. It will be a Europe where the standard of living will rise by grouping together production and expanding markets, thus encouraging the lowering of prices.
In this Europe, the Ruhr, the Saar and the French industrial basins will work together for common goals and their progress will be followed by observers from the United Nations. All Europeans without distinction, whether from east or west, and all the overseas territories, especially Africa, which awaits development and prosperity from this old continent, will gain benefits from their labour of peace."