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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.

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.

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

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.

The adoption of an emblem

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

The 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.

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