'Long live Europe, our home' - European leaders celebrate Europe day in renovated cooperation spirit
The leaders of the EU member states and of the European Union institutions sent a message of unity and solidarity on Europe Day amid the Covid-19 crisis that is gripping the continent.
Speaking in a video that was published by EU authorities, they shared their vision of Europe and explained what being Europeans meant to them.
The strongest message that emerged was the need for solidarity among countries to respond to the current health crisis sparked by coronavirus.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the aim for Europe is to come out "stronger" from the pandemic, as the country prepares to take up the EU Council presidency in July.
Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez said that in a moment of such health crisis and sorrow, "Europe is our common home and shelter".
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen chose the word "home" too when explaining what Europe means to her, while France's president Emmanuel Macron hailed the European spirit of "daring, reinventing, and uniting, as well as of thinking and acting for the future".
A future that will need "spirit of solidarity" to overcome the Covid-19 crisis, according to Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who recalled Robert Schuman's 1950 declaration.
"Solidarity" was also mentioned among others by the Hellenic PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who symbolically evoked Greek mythology goddess Europa in his address, saying that she "urges us" to "strengthen democracy" across the continent.
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, who recently faced criticism from the EU over his newly approved sweeping powers to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, said that "there has never been a greater need for cooperation among European countries".
Europe Day is held every 9th May and it celebrates unity and peace in Europe.
It was introduced in 1985 by the European Communities and it marks the landmark Schuman declaration, a speech made in 1950 by the then French foreign minister Robert Schuman which laid the foundations of Europe's political and economic cooperation.
Schuman set out the vision for a European institution that would pool coal and steel production in the continent, a move that was also believed to prevent another war between Europe's nations.
Only a year later, the Treaty of Paris saw the birth of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which is considered "to be the beginning of what is now the European Union".
The treaty was signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany