Against the background of blue sky, the stars form a circle, symbolising union. The number of stars is fixed, twelve being the symbol of perfection and completeness and bringing to mind the apostles, the sons of Jacob, the labours of Hercules, the months in the year, etc.
From its foundation in 1949 the Council of Europe was aware of the need to give Europe a symbol with which its inhabitants could identify. On 25 October 1955 the Parliamentary Assembly unanimously approved the emblem of a circle of gold stars on a blue background. On 9 December 1955 the organisation's Committee of Ministers adopted the star-studded flag, which was launched officially on 13 December of the same year in Paris.
A symbol for the whole of Europe
In 1983 the European Parliament in turn adopted the flag devised by the Council of Europe and recommended that it become the European Communities' emblem. The European Council gave its approval in June 1985. The European Union's institutions began to use the flag in 1986.
The European flag has since become synonymous with a shared political project which unites all Europeans, transcending their diversity.