United in diversity The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. It is not a State intended to replace existing States, nor is it just an organization for international cooperation. The EU is, in fact, unique. Its member states have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. The historical roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War. The idea was born because Europeans were determined to prevent such killing and destruction ever happening again. In the early years, the cooperation was between six countries and mainly about trade and the economy. Now the EU embraces 27 countries and 490 million people, and it deals with a wide range of issues of direct importance for our everyday life. In the increasingly interdependent world of the 21st century, it is more necessary than ever for every European citizen to work together with people from other countries in a spirit of curiosity, openness and solidarity.
History of the flag This is the European flag. The history of the flag goes back to 1955. 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. The Council of Europe was considering what symbol to adopt for its own use. After much discussion, the present design was adopted - a circle of twelve gold stars on a blue background. In various traditions, twelve is a symbolic number representing perfection. It is also, of course, the number of months in a year and the number of hours shown on a clock face. The circle is, among other things, a symbol of unity. So the European flag was born, representing the ideal of unity among the peoples of Europe.
Europe Day 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
European anthem 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.
United in diversity “United in diversity” is the motto of the European Union. 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.
Culture EU culture is intertwined with the culture of Europe and its specific national heritage; many of the policies on culture are with the individual member states. Cultural co-operation between member states has become a community competency since its inclusion in the Maastricht Treaty. Actions taken in the cultural area by the EU include the Culture 2000 7-year programme, the European Cultural Month event, the Media Plus programme, orchestras such as the European Union Youth Orchestra and the European Capital of Culture programme – where one or more cities in the EU are selected for one year to assist the cultural development of the city. In addition, the EU gives grants to cultural projects (totalling 233 in 2004) and has launched a Web portal dedicated to Europe and culture, responding to the European Council's expressed desire to see the Commission and the member states "promote the networking of cultural information to enable all citizens to access European cultural content by the most advanced technological means." Liverpool is one of the two European Capitals of Culture for 2008.
Sport Sport is mainly the responsibility of individual states or other international organisations rather than that of the EU. However, some EU policies have had an impact on sport, such as the freedom of employment which was at the core of the Bosman ruling, which prohibited national football leagues from imposing quotas on foreign players with European citizenship. Under the proposed Treaty of Lisbon sports would be given a special status which would exempt this sector from much of the EU's economic rules. This followed lobbying by governing organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, due to objections over the applications of free market principles to sport which led to an increasing gap between rich and poor clubs. Several European sports associations are consulted in the formulation of the EU's sports policy, including FIBA, UEFA, EHF, IIHF, FIRA and CEV. All EU member states and their respective national sport associations are participating in European sport organisations such as UEFA.