What is Europe Day and how is it being celebrated?

Europe Day is celebrated on May 5 and May 9  (PA Archive)
Europe Day is celebrated on May 5 and May 9 (PA Archive)

Today marks Europe Day, an annual celebration of peace and unity across the continent.

And for the first time, Ukraine and the European Union are marking Europe Day together.

To mark the occasion, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has made a special trip to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

As it stands, Ukraine is only a candidate nation, but it has been receiving the political, financial, and military support of Europe since the start of its war against Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his nation would from now on “celebrate Europe Day together with all of free Europe”.

But what exactly is Europe Day and how is it celebrated? Here is everything we know.

What is Europe Day?

Europe Day was first introduced by the Council of Europe in 1964, which marks the occasion on May 5 every year to coincide with the date the Council of Europe was founded.

The EU’s Europe Day, however, was introduced in 1985, and is celebrated on May 9 to coincide with the signing of the Schuman Declaration on May 9, 1950, instead.

This was an ambitious plan to secure long-term peace in post-war Europe, and saw French and West German coal and steel production unite under a common market — the European Coal and Steel Community. It is considered to be the beginning of what has now become the European Union.

What is this year’s theme?

The theme for Europe Day 2023 is the European Year of Skills. It involves publicising the positives of lifelong learning, green and digital transitions, innovation, and competitiveness.

This year will focus on small and medium businesses to address skills shortages in the EU, promoting reskilling and upskilling to help the economy.

How is Europe Day celebrated?

On Europe Day, European Union institutions open their doors to the public in Brussels and Strasbourg.

This means citizens can visit the key places where decisions about their everyday lives are made. These include:

  • The European Parliament, Brussels

  • The European Parliament, Strasbourg

  • European Council

  • European Commission

  • Court of Justice of the European Union

  • European Central Bank

  • European Court of Auditors

And many organisations take the opportunity to hold events that honour the day’s focus on peace and unity.

However, since Brexit, Britain is not taking part. However, you can check out events happening in Europe here.