Sixty-two years ago, on 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman - then French Minister for Foreign Affairs - read to the international press gathered in Paris a declaration calling on France, Germany and other European countries to create a “European federation” around a common project of coal and steel production and, beyond, to maintain pacific relations between countries which were coming out of a divisive war. This declaration and the principles that flowed from it are often seen as the basis for the establishment of the European Economic Community in 1957 – which later became the European Union.
From 1985, 9 May was established as Europe Day and events around Europe and the rest of world mark the achievements and challenges of building a Europe based on peace, social progress, economic development and solidarity.
This European construction also translates into a Europe which is open and active on the international level. As underlined by Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, on this 9 May 2012: “The coming year will be crucial for Europe's recovery – and for Europe's future. Not only the steps we take internally in the European Union on the economy and with Croatia joining in July but also how we engage globally”.
Pointing out that “everywhere I go, I hear that others from outside Europe want to work with a Europe that is active and committed”, she concludes “so that is what I intend to do next”.