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Blue and 12 stars. The European Flag

Can you imagine the European Union having another flag and not the current one showing a circle of 12 golden stars against a blue background? It seems that in the 1960’s a lot of people actually imagined the emblem of the Communities in many other ways.

A huge European flag is presented on Strasbourg's main place

In the ’60s

The European institutions needed to be recognised as an important player on the political scene. Establishing an emblem seemed a proper way to acquire recognition and to make themselves visible.

van der GOES van NATERS A first step was made with van der GOES van NATERS’s reports :

  • Rapport fait au nom de la commission des affaires politiques et des questions institutionnelles sur les problèmes que posent les relations des Communautés européennes avec l’extérieur, en particulier le droit de légation et de pavillon (A0-0087/59)
  • Complementary report (A0-0088/60).

The Committee on Political Affairs recommended that all the institutions should adopt a flag consisting of a circle of 6 golden stars on a blue background: ” azur à un cercle composé de sixétoiles d’or a cinq raies”.

The report was discussed in the plenary session on 19 November 1960. If some of the MEPs agreed that the 6 stars would represent “le premier noyeau européen en tant qu’étape sur le chemin d’une communauté européenne plus vaste“(MEP Santero) others underlined the problem of subsequent enlargements.

Choosing the flag of the Council of Europe (12 stars) was not a solution either. The majority thought that this would lead to confusion and that the CECA would be perceived as subordinate to the Council of Europe.

The first to declare himself against a flag with 6 or 12 stars was MEP Dehousse. In a statement he stressed that the best option would be to organise a competition in all the Community countries: “Je suis persuadé que nous comptons assez d’artistes de talent dans le six pays pour formuler des suggestions évocatrices et même enthousiasmants”

This solution was well received and the amendment included in the text of the resolution : “fixer le pavilion des Communautés par le moyen d’un concurs européen et à la suite d’une consultation de L’assemblée”.

A competition?

Once the resolution was adopted, many local newspapers announced that a competition was to be held “en vue de la création d’un drapeau pour la “Petite Europe”.

Many people started to send their sketches and ideas by post. From the documents preserved in the Historical archives we can note their diversity, from simple drawings combining the colours of the national flags to more complex ideas comprising an atom or mathematical figures.

This competition was never held.

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The adoption of an emblem

The debate on the emblem was again on the agenda in the 1980’s.

VON HASSEL Kai UweThe Committee on Political Affairs delivered another report  Rapport fait au nom de la commission politique sur l’adoption d’un drapeau pour la Communauté européenne. Rapporteur : M. Kai-Uwe von HASSEL, adopted on 11 April 1983. As included in the text the EP decided that “the European flag consisting of a circle of 12 gold stars on a blue field adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 1955 should become the flag of Europe”.

After discussions within Parliament (the Bureau asked the opinion of the Legal Committee, doc PE90049) as well as with the Council of Europe, the Parliament gave its approval in June 1985, at the Summit of Milan,for  all EC institutions to begin to use the flag in 1986.

Whilst the European Commission adopted it as its only emblem, other EU institutions and bodies use an emblem of their own in addition to the European Flag.

A second resolution will give more recognition to the use of the flag : Resolution on the European flag adopted on 14 September 1988.

About Historical Archives

The Historical Archives maintain and make available to the public the documents related to the legislative and political activity of the European Parliament from 1952 until the 6th parliamentary term (2004-2009).


10 thoughts on “Blue and 12 stars. The European Flag

  1. This is interesting Flags represents banners to tell who they are and what nation they belong too. So is this flag of the united European countries is possibly saying they belong under the rule of the Vatican Goddess Queen of Heaven Mary who is a new name for the Goddess Isis? Interesting here maybe we all need to check this out. Lack of Knowledge has cause many a person to make a wrong decision.

    Posted by marie beddow | February 9, 2016, 20:35
    • Several (too many!) years ago I heard a radio interview of the person who had designed present flag. I am afraid I have forgotten his name but he said that he wanted to put Europe under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He therefore chose her colour (celestial blue) and her symbology of twelve stars (twelve, which unlike on the flag of the USA, he intended would be immutable in number irrespective of how many member states the Common Market – and later the EEC and EU – would eventually have). This would confirm Jacub’s posting. I would also agree with his reasons for not changing it now.

      Also, apart from the fact that the roots of our European culture and civilisation – while open to welcome those from elsewhere – are profoundly Christian, in the light of recent events, maybe it would be wise to return to those roots before they and our common identity are ripped out from under us.

      Posted by Steve johns | February 9, 2016, 21:18
      • Sadly, this opinion is very unpopular, if not offensive, in ‘progressive western Europe’.
        I hope that radio interview you mentioned is somewhere online to be heard.

        Posted by Jakub | February 9, 2016, 21:24
  2. Virgin Mary has 12 stars, isnt it because of that? Europe is christian, but it seems like everybody forgets that nowdays…

    Posted by Ararito | May 29, 2014, 11:31
    • Nope, nothing to do with that at all. Keep your religion to yourself thanks, we don’t need it in government.

      Posted by Darren Maxwell | May 30, 2014, 13:49
      • Why don’t you speak for yourself? According to some sources ( Virgin Mary inspired the flag’s author.

        Posted by Jakub | May 31, 2014, 20:37
      • Some years ago I heard an interview with the person who was the key player in the design of the present flag (I am afraid that his name escapes me at the moment). He said that he had chosen this blue because it was the colour of the Virgin Mary and the twelve stars were also her symbol. This was done deliberately as he wanted to put Europe under her protection and dedicate it to her.

        All other considerations apart, now that the present flag is known world wide, in my view – whatever the history – it would be rather unfortunate to change it at this stage. Are there not more pressing matters to be addressed ?

        Posted by Steve Johns | June 14, 2014, 17:28


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