50th anniversary of the European flag 

Twelve stars, fifty years

Nowadays it flies throughout our continent, the blue flag bearing twelve golden stars which has reached the age of 50. For half a century, it has been symbolic of Europe's ambition and its reality.

Ever since being adopted by the Council of Europe and its then 14 member states in 1955, the European flag has been an expression of the will of a growing number of states and peoples to work together to build peace and prosperity in a continent where the common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law prevail and where full advantage is taken of diversity.

In 1986, the European Communities (now the European Union) adopted the same flag, as they used their own political and institutional methods to pursue the same fundamental aim.

Flying alongside national flags outside town halls and the regional and national political institutions throughout Europe, the blue and gold flag not only marks the presence of European institutions in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg, but is also a token of Europe's presence worldwide. With the consent of these institutions, it has become part of the image adopted to promote thousands of civil society initiatives and countless businesses.

The European venture has of course recorded spectacular progress, but has also encountered difficulties. The European component of our multiple identities has not weakened, however. The long life of the flag clearly illustrates this.