EU leaders Saturday vowed to promote peace and solidarity within Europe and elsewhere to mark the Europe Day. "Today, we celebrate the united Europe that arose from the ashes of the Second World War," said the leaders of the 28-member European bloc in a joint statement.
"We will never forget the catastrophe of the Second World War, triggered by contempt for people and nations. Seventy years ago, still in living memory, our peoples faced each other on the battlefields. Today, we are the closest partners, allies and friends," stated the European leaders. "It is our responsibility to promote peace, freedom, democracy, solidarity and prosperity, both in Europe and beyond," they added.
Many people lined up today for a guided tour of the EU institutions in Brussels which will be open throughout the day for the public. On her part, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini in a separate statement noted that on 9 May 1950 the late French foreign minister Robert Schuman called on the nations of Europe to unite and make war impossible.
"65 years later, his message of peace and unity is as relevant as ever," she said. Mogherini however, warned in an apparent reference to the Ukraine crisis that "as the spectre of war has returned to our continent, our unity continues to be our greatest strength." She said the EU created the European External Action Service "to work with partners around the world - in Africa and the Arab world, in the Americas and in Asia - towards that aim." On his part, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz stated that this year's Europe Day is a special one with 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
"The spectacle of horror that was this war, with an outrageous accumulation of barbarity, plunged humanity into the abyss. Our continent however was able to rise above hatred and fear to unite in solidarity, democracy, and tolerance for a project of political and economic union which remains unique in the world," he stated.
"We should not however limit ourselves to commemoration and celebration to justify the European Union. Citizens are suffering, feel insecure, and no longer envisage a bright future for themselves or their children. At the same time, irresponsible persons are stoking up populist sentiment, proposing simplistic solutions and undermining the foundations of our spirit of togetherness," he warned.
"From the fight against terrorism, to solidarity in the welcoming of migrants and asylum seekers, our Union is still far from perfect, but the solution is not less Europe, the solution is a better Europe," he added.