Today is Europe Day and Commission President José Manuel Barroso has been leading celebrations in Brussels.
Europe Day commemorates a speech in 1950 by then French foreign minister Robert Schuman which called for the creation of an international authority to manage European coal and steel production. It’s considered as on of the founding acts of the modern European Union and Barroso underlined how rapid progress has been. “This year we are commemorating the fifth anniversary, just last week, the fifth anniversary of the enlargement, the big enlargement of 2004 and so it is important to tell our people, our young people, where we were and where we are now,” he said. “We have problems in Europe everybody has problems – United States, Japan, Russia – but in fact we should be proud of the great progress that Europe has been doing in terms of peace, and freedom and solidarity.” In Brussels Europe’s institutions are holding an open day and in towns and cities all across the continent commemorative events are being held. In just under a month’s time elections will be he held for the European parliament – and turnout will be an important indicator of the extent to which Europe’s citizens have adopted the continent’s institutions.