9 May should be public holiday for all Europeans

, by Emmanuel Morucci, Translated by Lorène Weber

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

9 May should be public holiday for all Europeans

If 9 May is officially “Europe Day”, the EU citizens do not really identify to it and not many feel that it concerns them. For this Day to be a constitutive element of a sense of belonging to a community of destiny, it should be granted with a genuine character of a celebration of Europe. As such, this day should be a highly symbolic public holiday for all Europeans.

9 May is known as “Europe Day”. This is the official day decided in 1985 during the Milan summit. Its symbolic value should have made Europe Day a strong common moment for all European citizens. This anniversary of the Schuman Declaration (1950) is about celebrating peace and unity in Europe. This is the birth of the European Union. The hitch is that if some states attach importance to it, others are not preoccupied with. In France, this is generally a moment to “share information” on European construction.

Europe Day or European Union Day?

Many of our fellow citizens do not know (or not anymore) that the designation “Europe Day” is also used on 5 May by the Council of Europe and its 47 Member States. This dates back to a decision in 1964 of the committee of ministers which made it the anniversary date of the creation of the Council of Europe in 1949. 5 May holds another set of values than the EU’s and as such, the term should evolve. Europe Day could be attributed to the Council of Europe in its continental dimension, and European Union Day saved for EU nationals, enjoying European citizenship. In that sense, 9 May would become a structuring and constitutive element of a sense of belonging to the EU. To be efficient, this day should be a common public holiday.

In fact, if since 1985 several demonstrations have happened here and there, one cannot say that the objective is really reached. Few citizens are attached to this specific day. Yet, it is part of EU symbols, as are the flag, the anthem, the euro or the passport. As such, it should be a strong element of European culture. It could be a ritual date, like 14 July in France or 4 July in the United States. As a symbol, 9 May is one of the elements shaping our common culture. EU Day finds its roots in our histories, the founding myth, our heroes, our founding fathers and mothers, our common texts, our common governance, and our values to which – and it is a condition – the 28 (soon 27) Member States agree with: peace, democracy, solidarity, justice, citizenship.

A symbol of our common culture

Today, squeezed in between colouring, lupus, procrastination or firefighters’ days (more than 300 exist), Europe Day does not find its substance. It does not fulfil its mission of being a strong moment of the European project. Contrary to national days, Europe Day does not enjoy the status of a strong moment of citizenship. And yet, EU is one of our territorial dimensions (such as the nation or the region): feeling European contributes to the construction of our identity.

By presenting 9 May this way, we place ourselves in a dimension more anthropological, cultural and societal than economic or financial. Still, the EU can only be complete with its citizens and their support to the project. They must enter a sense of common belonging into their minds. Celebrating European construction through a common public holiday is a means, a tool of education and socialisation. At a moment where French President Emmanuel Macron wants to refound the EU, this could be food for thought for the consultations he intends to launch.

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