Every 9 May, the European Union celebrates the EU’s achievements and unity while commemorating the Schuman Declaration that, on 9 May 1950, proposed the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would ultimately become today’s European Union. Throughout the 27 EU member states and across the world, the EU institutions with their partners and networks celebrated Europe Day through a host of engaging, informative and entertaining activities.
This May, Europe Day brought citizens together to learn more about how the EU is supporting peace, security, and democracy through its resolve in face of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and other conflicts worldwide. Europe Day 2023 also enabled visitors to become better acquainted with the EU’s efforts to build a Europe that is green, digital, and competitive, fair, and skilled, as well as strong, resilient and safe. This year, it also shed special light on the 2023 European Year of Skills, which kicked off on 9 May.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen travelled to Kyiv on Europe Day in a highly symbolic show of support for Ukraine in Russia’s ongoing invasion. The Commission President’s trip took place on the same day that Russia celebrates Victory Day, which commemorates the country’s triumph over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. On this occasion, the Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky declared that 9 May will be celebrated to be Europe Day in Ukraine as well.
Every year EU institutions open their doors to the public ahead of Europe Day (9 May), giving citizens an opportunity to discover how the institutions work and interact directly with the EU staff. At the 29th edition on the 6th of May 2023, close to 10,000 visitors entered the Commission HQ – the Berlaymont building – to visit the seven thematic villages and take part in the activities organised at the stands and outdoors.
Part of the Stronger Europe village, was dedicated to the DG REGIO-Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy’s Just Transition Fund (JTF), one of the key tools in the context of the European Green Deal, which is expected to mobilise €19 billion in current prices and around EUR €25.4 billion in investments to support the regions heavily dependent on production of fossil fuels to be phased-out or industries with high carbon-intensity.
DG REGIO stand also included a big screen showcasing what the EU does in every region, as displayed in Kohesio, the comprehensive knowledge database that contains more than 1,5 million EU-funded projects. This was another point of attraction for visitors, as Kohesio offers easy and transparent access to up-to-date information, and everyone could browse through projects and beneficiaries in their cities, regions, or countries.
The Festival of Regions and Cities, hosted by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 6 May, welcomed visitors with interactive stands, participatory presentations, and games. Hence, visitors were able to get to know the role of the institution that represents Europe’s regions and cities, the CoR, through interactive display stands and also experience the diversity of cultures and traditions of Europe’s regions.
On 9 May, citizens visited the European Court of Justice and the European village in Luxembourg city, set up by the Commission representation together with the national authorities, member states’ embassies, EU Institutions based in Luxembourg and civil society. On 13 May, members of the public were able to look around the European Parliament in Strasbourg and see the seat of Europe’s largest democratic body.
Thousands of people turned out to celebrate Europe Day in Budapest’s Szabadság Square, where free concerts, children’s programmes and a running race were laid on to mark Hungary’s 18th year as an EU member state. Politicians from the government and politicians from the opposition alike highlighted Hungary’s support for a united and peaceful Europe, noting EU investments throughout the country and the Erasmus+ programme among other opportunities available to citizens and expressing solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees.