Symbols of Europe
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A number of symbols of Europe have emerged throughout history. Depending on the symbol, they can apply to Europe as a whole, European unity or merely to the European Union (EU). Most well known symbols were created by the Council of Europe (CoE) in the 1950s and 1960s, and while these symbols were intended to represent Europe as a whole, many people mistakenly see them as referring to the EU exclusively after their adoption by that organisation. In addition to those of Pan-European identity, the EU has created additional symbols for itself through its integration.
Charlemagne (Latin: Carolus Magnus; King of the Franks from 768; Holy Roman Emperor c. 742 – 814), also known as Charles the Great, is considered the founder of the French and German monarchies. Known as Pater Europae («Father of Europe»), he established an empire that represented the biggest unification of Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire and brought about a renaissance that formed a pan-European identity whilst marking the end of the Dark Ages. There was also a contemporary intellectual and cultural revival which profoundly marked the history of Western Europe. This gave Charlemagne a legendary standing that transcended his military accomplishments.
For many centuries, European royal houses sought to associate themselves with the Carolingian heritage. The crowns of the Holy Roman Empire and Napoleon Bonaparte were for instance both respectively named "The Crown of Charlemagne", and the French kings used Charlemagne's sword, Joyeuse, as their own coronation sword from the 11th century onwards. The cult of Charlemagne was further embellished by the French renaissance author Jean Lemaire de Belges, who postulated that the emperor was part of an illustrious translatio imperii originating with King Priam of Troy during the Trojan Wars, and thus by extension Zeus, the "Father of Gods and men" in Greek Mythology.
Today, much of the pan-European, symbolic value of Charlemagne is attributed to the fact that he is considered an embodiment of the Franco-German friendship which was absent during the long-lasting enmity which culminated in the two world wars, but has become indispensable in the process of European integration. Thus, in the 1952 design competition for the Council of Europe's flag, several of the unsuccessful proposals were redolent of the Oriflamme; the banner given to Charlemagne by Pope Leo III at his coronation in the St. Peter's Basilica in the year 800. Similarities between Charlemagne's empire and the modern European integration were also suggested by professor Hans von Hentig the same year. The European Commission is also alluding to Charlemagne by means of naming one of its central buildings in Brussels after him (The Charlemagne building). The German city of Aachen has since 1949 annually awarded the Charlemagne Prize to champions of European unity, including Alcide De Gasperi, Jean Monnet and the euro itself. Each edition of the international affairs newspaper The Economist features a column called «Charlemagne's notebook», focusing on European Union affairs. In his speech at the award ceremony for the 2010 Charlemagne Youth Prize, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said the following:
|“||Imagine, if you will, the age of Charlemagne, twelve hundred years ago. Already then, he had a vision of a united Europe. Just think how many wars there have been since then and how much European blood has been spilled. We were devoured by hatred. We were in the grip of our emotions. We were unable to think in common. People had a vision of a united Europe then, but did not achieve it. We must remember, my dear young friends, always to keep this vision in mind.||”|
Later monarchs who also have carried sobriquets as "relatives" of Europe include Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (grandmother of Europe), Christian IX of Denmark and Nicholas I of Montenegro (both respectively father-in-law of Europe). These late 19th and early 20th century sobriquets are however purely on account of their children's marriages to foreign princes and princesses, and involve no wider symbolism.
Europa regina (Latin for Queen Europe) is the cartographic depiction of the European continent as a queen. Introduced and made popular during the mannerist period, Europa Regina is typically standing upright with the Iberian Peninsula forming her crowned head, and Bohemia her heart, and other European regions shown as a sceptre and a globus cruciger.
The first map to depict Europe in this manner was made by Johannes Bucius Aenicola (1516–1542) in 1537. Though much about the origination and initial perception of this map is uncertain, it is known that Putsch maintained close relations with Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg, and that the map's popularity increased significantly during the second half of the 16th century. At the time, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had united the lands of the Habsburg's in his hands, including Spain. Thus, the map is oriented westwards to have Spain as the crowned head, pointing at the Habsburgs' claim to be universal emperors of Europe. The most conspicuous reference to the Holy Roman Empire is the Carolingian hoop crown. Another connection to Charles V is the gown, which resembles the contemporary dress code at the Habsburg court, and the face of the queen, which some say resembles Charles V's wife Isabella. As in contemporary portraits of couples, Europa regina has her head turned to her right and she also holds the orb with her right hand, which has been interpreted as facing and offering power to her imaginary husband, the emperor. More general, Europe is shown as the res publica christiana, the united Christendom in medieval tradition, and great or even dominant power in the world.
Another allegory is the attribution of Europe as the paradise by special placement of the water bodies. As contemporary iconography depicted the paradise as a closed form, Europa regina is enclosed by seas and rivers. The Danube river is depicted in a way that it resembles the course of the biblical river flowing through the paradise, with its estuary formed by four arms. That Europa regina is surrounded by water is also an allusion to the mythological Europa, who was abducted by Zeus and carried over the water.Europa regina belongs to the Early Modern allegory of Europa triumphans, as opposed to Europa deplorans.
Europa and the bull
In the eighth century, the name of the Greek mythological character Europa was ecclesiastically used for Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire. The name was used as a geographical term also by Ancient Greek cartograpers such as Strabo, but it was the eighth century usage which ultimately lead to it being adopted as the geographical name of the entire continent.
According to legend, Zeus was enamored of the Phoenician noble-woman Europa and decided to seduce her. In the guise of a tame white bull, he mixed himself with the herds of Europa's father. While Europa and her female attendants were gathering flowers, she saw the bull, and got onto his back. Zeus took that opportunity and ran to the sea and swam, with her on his back, to the island of Crete. There he revealed his true identity, and Europa became the first queen of Crete. Zeus gave her a necklace made by Hephaestus and three additional gifts: Talos, Laelaps and a javelin that never missed. Zeus later re-created the shape of the white bull in the stars, which is now known as the constellation Taurus.
In addition to generally being a frequent motif in European art since Greco-Roman times, the founding myth of Europa and the bull has frequently been alluded to in relation to the continent and by the modern European Union, and can thus be considered not only a piece of toponymy, but also as a symbol, or national personification, of Europe. For instance, statues of Europa and the bull are located outside several of the European Union's institutions, as well as on the Greek €2 coin. Europa's name appeared on postage stamps commemorating the Council of Europe, which were first issued in 1956. Furthermore, the dome of the European Parliament's Paul-Henri Spaak building contains a large mosaic by Aligi Sassu portraying the abduction of Europa with other elements of Greek mythology.
In 1997, Polish-born Pope John Paul II canonised Poland's 14th century monarch Jadwiga as Saint Hedwig, the patron saint of queens and of European unification. From the time of her death, Jadwiga was venerated in Poland as a saint, having been buried in the Wawel Cathedral. She has been considered a model of piety, constancy and faithfulness. Numerous stories and legends were told of her charity and devotion to God.
The flag of Europe is used to represent both the European Union and the Council of Europe. It consists of a circle of 12 golden (yellow) stars on a blue background. The blue represents the west, the number of stars represents completeness while their position in a circle represents unity. The stars do not vary according to the members of either organisation as they are intended to represent all the peoples of Europe, even those outside European integration.
The flag was designed by Arsène Heitz and Paul M. G. Lévy in 1955 for the CoE as its symbol, and the CoE urged it to be adopted by other organisations. In 1985 the EU, which was then the European Economic Community (EEC), adopted it as its own flag (having had no flag of its own before) at the initiative of the European Parliament. The flag is not mentioned in the EU's treaties, its incorporation being dropped along with the European Constitution, but it is formally adopted in law.[which?]
Despite it being the flag of two separate organisations, it is often more associated with the EU, due to the EU's higher profile and heavy usage of the emblem. The flag has also been used to represent Europe in sporting events and as a pro-democracy banner outside the Union. It has partly inspired other flags, such as those of other European organisations and those of states where the EU has been heavily involved (such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Kosovo).
The European anthem is based on the prelude to "The Ode to Joy", 4th movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Due to the large number of languages in Europe, it is an instrumental version only, with the original German lyrics having no official status. The anthem was announced on 19 January 1972 by the Council of Europe, after being arranged by conductor Herbert von Karajan. The anthem was launched via a major information campaign on Europe Day, 5 May 1972.
It was adopted by European Community leaders in 1985. It does not replace national anthems, but is intended to celebrate their shared values. It is played on official occasions by both the Council of Europe and the European Union.
Other scores associated with pan-Europeanism include the hymn of the European Broadcasting Union (the prelude of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Te Deum; played e.g. before every Eurovision Song Contest) and the UEFA Champions League Anthem (an arrangement of George Frideric Handel's Zadok the Priest (one of his Coronation Anthems); played before UEFA Champions League television broadcast since 1992).
"Europe Day" is a celebration of Europe held annually on 5 and 9 May due to differences between the Council of Europe and the EU. 9 May 1950 was the date of the "Schuman Declaration", the proposal to pool the French and West German coal and steel industries. This is considered a founding moment for what is now the EU and was adopted as its flag day at the Milan European Council summit in 1985. The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 and hence chooses that date for its celebrations. It established this date in 1964 and, despite a preference for 9 May, it is still observed by some Europeans because of the Council of Europe's role in defending human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, whereas the Schuman declaration was merely proposing the pooling of French and German coal and steel. Furthermore, 9 May coincides with Victory Day, the end of World War II (celebrated on 8 May in western Europe), in the former Soviet Union states.
- 11 February: The 112-day – highlighting the emergency telephone number of the EU
- 23 August: European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism
The symbols of the Council are also the symbols of the European Union (except for a slight difference in the date of Europe Day, see above). The following are further symbols created by the EU but, unlike the above, are not related to the Council of Europe.
Unity in Diversity was adopted as the European Union's motto on 4 May 2000 following a contest called A motto for Europe. It's inspired by a Latin-language motto by Nobel prize winner Ernesto Teodoro Moneta: In varietate unitas! and it was selected from entries proposed by school pupils and then accepted by the President of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine as Diversité dans l'unité. In 2004, the motto was written into the English-language version of the failed European Constitution (article I-8 about the EU's symbols) as United in Diversity, and now appears on English language official EU websites as United in diversity.
The euro and its symbol
The euro was not one of the original symbols created by the Council of Europe and is specific to the EU, but it has become a symbol since it replaced 12 national currencies in 2002. It is now used by most EU Member States and hence it (along with its currency symbol) has become one of the most tangible symbols of European unity for citizens of the European Union (though this of course is not intended to apply to wider Europe as the others do).
The ill-fated European Constitution would have legally enshrined the flag, motto, anthem and euro as being official to the EU. However, the Treaty of Lisbon does not mention the symbols, apart from the euro being made the official currency of the union. Despite being dropped from the new treaty, the EU symbols will continue to be used as before. In comparison, some countries such as the United Kingdom have not formally adopted their national flag in any form, but such flags are used nonetheless in a de facto manner.
Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic declare that the flag with a circle of twelve golden stars on a blue background, the anthem based on the 'Ode to Joy' from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, the motto 'United in diversity', the euro as the currency of the European Union and Europe Day on 9 May will for them continue as symbols to express the sense of community of the people in the European Union and their allegiance to it.
Although the symbols are not mentioned in the body of the Treaty of Lisbon itself, a declaration by sixteen Member States on the symbols, including the flag, was included in the final act of the Treaty of Lisbon stating that the flag, the anthem, the motto and the currency and Europe Day "will for them continue as symbols to express the sense of community of the people in the European Union and their allegiance to it."
The European Parliament, objecting to the absence of the symbols from the Treaty of Lisbon, backed a proposal to use the symbols such as the flag more often in the Parliament with Jo Leinen MEP suggesting that the Parliament should again take the avant-garde in their use. Later, in September 2008, Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs proposed a formal change in the institution's rules of procedure to make better use of the symbols: the flag would be present in all meeting rooms (not just the hemicycle) and at all official events; the anthem would be played at the start of a new Parliament following elections and at formal sittings; the motto would be printed on all Parliamentary documents; and "Europe Day" would be formally recognised by Parliament. The proposal was passed on 8 October 2008 by 503 votes to 96 (15 abstentions).
There have been other pan-European organisations which have not adopted the same symbols as the Council of Europe or the European Union, or have symbols derived from these. The Flag of the European Coal and Steel Community (the first of the three European Communities) was developed around the same time as the Flag of Europe and shares the use of stars and the colour blue, but uses completely different arrangement and symbolism.
The Flag of the Western European Union (the European defence organisation) was derived from the Flag of Europe, altered for its own usage. The Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine predates them all, but its flag also uses the colour blue and a circle of stars, though with different symbolism.
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