20th Mar 2023

EU to celebrate subdued 50th birthday party

The EU has ditched plans to hold big-style celebrations for its 50th anniversary next year, instead agreeing to two more modest plans - the appointment of citizens' ambassadors and a series of activities for school children and youngsters.

A meeting of officials from member states, the European Commission and the European Parliament last week resulted in agreement on two limited pan-European festivities for 2007, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

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Member states ditched different more ambitious plans which had been tabled in spring and summer - such as a Eurovision-style singing event and an EU marathon - and instead picked "more realistic and cheaper plans," diplomats said.

The deal includes the appointment of two citizens' "faces" per member state who will "tell their story" on how the EU affects their daily lives, to be shown on a film or a video blog.

The 54 citizens' ambassadors should ideally have links to events in European history, such as the uprisings against communism in central Europe.

Member states also agreed on a "youth package" which includes the "United schools of Europe," a British idea of linking children across the union through web-based communication.

Schools in each member state will also be involved in "Spring Days" where pupils will debate 50 years of European co-operation.

Meanwhile, an EU leaders' meeting in Berlin on 25 March will be flanked by a simultaneous youth summit in Rome, with the commission hoping the event will be aired by public broadcasters in member states.

No pan-EU street dancing

But diplomats stressed that general support for the two main activities, government participation in the scheme is still "voluntary," with the representations of the EU institutions in member states expected to do most of the work and foot most of the bill.

"Several member states stressed that [participation] should not be compulsory," one contact said adding that "member states are fine with this because it is cheap."

National delegations had previously considered more ambitious ideas which were eventually binned because of fears that they would be ridiculed. These included a Slovene idea for pan-EU street dancing.

Another failed idea foresaw that a ship would make a festive voyage along European ports from Finland to Greece.

But other proposals saw more enthusiasm and could be implemented in several member states at the same time – although still on an optional basis with one diplomat saying that "we are united in diversity."

Several member states have said they might join the Estonian "green wave" tree planting campaign, with one EU document noting that possible southern European participants could already start digging earlier than the Estonians - who will have to wait a bit longer for spring to arrive.

Meanwhile Germany, which will hold the EU presidency during the anniversary year, will go ahead with its own idea of "thousands" of its bakeries making 54 sorts of cakes with recipes from all 27 member states – including Bulgaria and Romania. Other countries have also expressed interest in the idea.

Some states also "really liked" the UK proposal of holding a European film festival and might still go ahead with it.


The fragmented EU birthday picture emerges just before the commission on Tuesday (17 October) announces the winner of the logo competition for the anniversary year.

Some 1,701 young designers from across the EU - mainly from Italy, France, Germany, Portugal and Poland - took part in the competition for the logo which will should be broadly used during next year's festivities.

The logo will be picked by an 11-strong jury consisting of graphic design professionals and professors as well as the creative director of MTV Central Europe.

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