Last Updated: 12 January 2023

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“Vive l’Europe!” On Europe Day, 27 states and more than 446 million Europeans (including about 67 million French people) celebrate the European Union on the 9th of May. On that day, many events are organised throughout the EU, including in France.


The origins of Europe Day

Europe Day has been celebrated throughout the EU for more than 30 years. It was created in June 1985 during an official meeting between EU Presidents and Prime Ministers. Europe Day aims to bring citizens closer to the European Union.

Robert Schuman
Robert Schuman © Europeana Collections – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Since then, Europe Day has occurred on the 9th of May every year. It is no coincidence that the EU statesmen chose that day.

On the 9th of May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman suggested that European countries join as an economic union. According to him, such a union was the only way to guarantee peace in Europe for a long time. In his famous Declaration, Schuman said “concrete achievements” were essential to “preserving peace”.

Five other European countries answered the call: Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1952, they created the ECSC: the European Coal and Steel Community, along with France.

The 9th of May 1950 is a critical date in European history. Since that day, European countries have been uniting economically and politically to keep their continent peaceful.


The celebrations of Europe Day in France

The European Parliament in Strasbourg © French Moments

Every year, on the 9th of May, each EU member-states organised events about Europe. European citizens are invited to discuss their opinions and vision for the EU’s future. Many special events occur in France, such as meetings devoted to Europe, school activities, cultural exhibitions and concerts.


Europe Day in Strasbourg

Many of those events occur in Strasbourg, Alsace, one of the European capital cities. For instance, Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament. Throughout May, the Alsatian capital celebrates Europe. A “Village of Europe” occupies Place Gutenberg. There are debates in the evening, and the public can visit the European institutions in Strasbourg.


Europe Day is not a public holiday in France

In 2013, Europe Day occurred on Ascension Day and therefore was a public holiday in France!

However, that situation remains exceptional as of the 9th of May. French people go to work as usual. As such, Europe Day is not a popular celebration among the French people as opposed to other celebrations such as Victory in Europe Day and the Armistice of the 11th of November 1918.


The symbols of the European Union

Europe Day
French and European flags flying above the Palais Garnier, Paris © French Moments


Europe Day is one of the EU symbols, among a few others such as:

The European flag: it is a very famous symbol of the EU. The flag was adopted at the same time as Europe Day, in June 1985. It comprises twelve stars put together in a circle on a blue background. The European flag represents unity and solidarity between the people of Europe.

The Euro is the most tangible symbol for Europeans in their everyday lives. The Euro is the official currency of the European Union, even if only 17 countries out of 27 use it. Still, the euro is the currency of 330 million people.

The European anthem: the anthem is an excerpt from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Ode to Joy” (1823). The EEC countries chose it in 1986.

The motto was adopted in 2000. The motto is Latin: “In varietate concordia”, which means “United in diversity”.


Read more about the European institution’s district in Strasbourg on our French blog!

Holidays and Celebrations in France

Learn more about the seasons, celebrations and public holidays in France:

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