What you might need to know

In this video, you will learn more about the different symbols that the European Union has developed. They are similar to those we use in Ireland like a flag, an anthem and a national day. This video also introduces you to the Euro and its quirks – it is not used in all the 27 countries of the EU and the coins look different from country to country.

  • The European Union has four key symbols

    – A flag that it adopted only in 1985. There were talks at the very start when the British were thinking of joining the EU right after WWII of a flag with a white background and a big green E. But Churchill thought it looked too much like his underpants drying on the lawn. The flag is blue with a circle of 12 stars. 12 like the 12 hours in the day. It’s a number which represents unity, solidarity and harmony. The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of EU countries.
    – An anthem: Ode to Joy with music composed by Beethoven. It was also adopted in 1985.
    – A motto: Unity in Diversity – it highlights how Europeans have come together to work for peace and prosperity. At the same time, we all have different cultures, traditions and languages and we all learn from each other. The motto was adopted in 2000.
    – Europe Day: it is celebrated on 9 May. It commemorates the Schuman Declaration made by the French Foreign Affairs Minister on 9 May 1950 which set up the idea of European Union. Just 5 years after the end of WWII, Schuman outlined a cooperation between European countries that would make war unthinkable.
  • However the Euro is not a symbol. It is a currency used by only 19 countries in the club. For example, Sweden and Denmark don’t use it. Ireland uses the Euro which came into existence on 1/01/2002. The Euro banknotes are all identical across the 19 countries using the Euro. The Euro coins have a value face which is identical for all Euro coins. They have a design face which is specific to the country where it is made. The Irish Euro coins have the harp, the Belgian coins have the side view of a Belgian king, Albert II and some countries have different designs depending on whether it is a 20 cent coin or a Euro coin.