Celebrating Europe Day 2021 during COVID-19
May 9 of each year is celebrated as a day of peace and unity throughout Europe. There are large scale celebrations in several EU nations. Many of these feature parades, fireworks, and other festivities. Here is a look at what this day signifies and how this year’s celebrations will play out amid social restrictions.
Erstwhile French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman first proposed the idea of pan European cooperation in 1950. The collaboration would begin between France and Germany in the area of coal and steel production. Gradually it would encompass other domains of mutual interest, as well as more nations. Schuman’s idea of initiating cooperation in coal and steel was the first organized effort based on the tenet of bringing peace and stability to Europe through economic collaboration. In the aftermath of World War II this was a vital outcome. The ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) with founding members France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, was the first of a series of supranational European institutions. A treaty which embodied Schuman’s vision was signed shortly after. It was the foundation of what eventually became the European Parliament. The organization later started the process of formal integration with other European countries. This ultimately led to the creation of the European Union in 1993. Schuman earned the title of “Father of Europe”. Today the EU plays an important role in international diplomacy. It works to foster stability, security, prosperity, democracy, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. May 9 is the day to celebrate these significant achievements.
On Europe Day, the EU’s institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg open their doors to the public. These include The European Parliament, European Council, Council of the European Union, European Commission, European Economic and Social Committee, Committee of the Regions, and European External Action Service. Local EU offices all over the world organize a variety of activities and events for all ages. These feature talks, sports events, exhibitions, and so on. The goal is to familiarize the public with the work of the European institutions and to promote European values. The EU’s fundamental values include respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law. These values unite all EU member states. On May 9 European citizens are invited to discuss their opinions and vision for the EU’s future.
In several EU member states including Luxembourg, Europe Day is considered an official holiday. Schools and most businesses are closed. Luxembourg organizes a ‘European village’ where visitors can play games, learn about European cultures, and buy products from an array of countries. The day also commemorates Luxembourg-born Robert Schuman. Many special events take place in Luxembourg, such as school activities, cultural exhibitions, and concerts.
Celebrations amid restrictions
Currently many EU countries have travel restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Traditionally EU organizations celebrate Europe Day by opening their doors to the public. This year citizens from Europe and elsewhere are invited to discover the House of Civil Society in a safe and virtual way. The formal launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe is scheduled to kick off on May 9 in Strasbourg. The Conference will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape a common future. In keeping with the social distancing measures, online events will replace conventional Europe Day celebrations. This year’s events will include:
- Europe Virtual Talks: Road to Europe Day 2021 (1-8 May). This is a platform for the public to interact with European Ambassadors and improve their understanding of Europe.
- EU Scholarships Info Day (2 May). The EU Delegation and 11 member states will participate in the EU Scholarships Info Day. The event comprises a virtual fair and webinar series.
- EU Virtual Talent Show: Sounds of Europe. The EU Delegation invites the public to submit a short video showcasing a special European musical talent (singing and/or playing a musical instrument) which reflects the richness of the European repertoire.
More than 5,000 Luxembourg nationals live and work in Germany. Many of them regularly send remittances to support their families back home via the Ria Money Transfer App and similar channels. LUX citizens in Germany observe the holiday by meeting and connecting with others from their home country. This year there are COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing limitations in place in Germany. Luxembourg and other EU nationals are taking the celebratory and discussion events online.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.