Happy Europe Day!

Europe day 2008

It is 9 May, aka Europe Day, commemorating the Schuman declaration. Probably most people in Europe are not aware of it, regardless of the various events organised in each member state. However, if you work for one of the European Institutions, you actually get a day off (also some NGOs in Brussels have this tradition). I am wondering if it would make sense to have 9 May as a public holiday throughout Europe, in order to raise awareness and celebrate the European project? Of course it would be a purely symbolical decision (and EU symbolism is not very popular at the moment…) and another public holiday would have to be replaced (it seems impossible to introduce a “new” public holiday in light of current economic paradigms)

And herewith lies the problem: Nobody wants to get rid of “National days” in favour of a European one. Christian holidays are not public holidays in all European countries, and replacing one of them might not be particularly welcomed by many conservatives. Labour Day (+ May Day bank holiday in the UK) might be too historical and labour unions and many socialists would not support it (let alone any UK government). Some other related problems are: May 9 is traditionally known as “Victory day” in Russia, many countries celebrate the end of WWII on May 8, and the Council of Europe also has a Europe day on May 5

So, what are your ideas on this? Do we need a public holiday on 9 May? Or would it actually be better not to change anything (and rather focus on “real” problems)?


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