Let's be clear. There is no distinct EU flag. It is high time for Europe's leaders to be honest about its emblem, its flag. People rally around a flag where it has real and lasting meaning.
The flag of twelve-stars on an azure field is the flag of the Council of Europe. It is Europe's senior institution. The EU uses the flag as a subsidiary of the Council of Europe.
So it makes no sense for EU States to flourish the twelve-star flag, because it is primarily a symbol of the Council of Europe. It includes 47 States, not just the 27 of the EU.
Besides the EU States, the Flag represents:
Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Moldova, Albania, Andorra, Switzerland, Ukraine, North Macedonia, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monaco, Serbia, Montenegro and the United Kingdom.
Should the flag be waived every time one of these States wins at the Olympics?
The EU seems to be attempting to appropriate total use of the flag. It is an attempted act of pilfering, to use a polite term. It's a theft as much as using the logo of Coca Cola as the emblem of the European Commission.
Slow motion steal
The Council of Europe owns the flag. It encapsulates honest government and European values. Decades later, it first offered use of the flag with conditions to the European Communities. At first only the European Parliament took up the generous invitation. Other Community institutions then wanted to use it.
The story is a bit like a neighbour borrowing the lawnmower and then after a period of time the neighbour says the lawnmower belongs to me.
Put it another way. It is like the European Commission installing Coca Cola vending machines throughout the Berlaymont building. Then, when they became so prevalent, saying that the Commission owns the branding of the Coca Cola logo.
The EU, with its flagrant democratic deficit, seems to think that the 12-star flag is its own. But the question of ownership is even more legally dubious. The flag was offered to the European Communities, not the present EU, which is a different animal.
The European Council took over control and made the flag part of EU. But ironically, in the referendums on the Constitutional treaty that was rejected by France and the Netherlands, the flag was rejected too. Several other countries were set to reject the treaty but their referendums were withdrawn by the politicians. So the EU constitutionally does not have this flag. The people did not want it to represent the EU.
Then, even more ironically, the Constitutional Treaty was re-assembled from a jigsaw puzzle of articles and amendments and turned into the Lisbon Treaty. Did the Lisbon Treaty have an article defining the European flag and the anthem?
No. The article which was in the Constitutional Treaty was left out of the Lisbon Treaty! Why? Because the British objected that this made the EU appear to be a federal State, which obviously it wasn't.
There is no article in the Lisbon Treaty that says the Flag of the EU is that which is widely flown outside all EU buildings or inside government offices. The best politicians could come up with was a statement by 17 States, declaration 52, that was added later to the treaty.
Flag and Song
In 1986 at the invitation of the Council of Europe the European Communities were invited with conditions to use both the flag and the European anthem, Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' as arranged for it by Herbert von Karajan. This invitation was accepted by the European Council, which was not a Community institution. It was not even a body with a legal personality. That's like the neighbour of the neighbour saying the lawnmower is his. That seems like the EU's European Council is violating a fundamental right -- the right to own and retain property.
The Council of Europe was designed to safeguard human rights after the abuses of Nazism and Soviet communism. In short, unjust rule by a self-defined elite or ideology.
All Member States of the European Communities and the EU have to be members of the Council of Europe. They have to respect its Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The EU is in evident crisis with a democratic deficit, closed-door government, and a crying need to re-establish just and honest principles for the Future of Europe. It needs to review its origins.
On 5 May 1949 Robert Schuman said in a speech at the signature ceremony of the Council of Europe Statute in London that adherence to this legal system defines 'Europe' more than geography.
The lesson is that the EU must conform to the Human Rights of the Council of Europe. That is why all early treaties were discussed and passed in the Council of Europe. Schuman himself explained the institutions and the democratic mechanism of the European Community before the Assembly of the Council of Europe in August 1950.
Who flies the flag? The flag belongs by invention, precedent and law to the Council of Europe.
The use of the European flag by the Brussels institutions is an act of recognition of being part of Europe based on Fundamental Freedoms.
These freedoms are recognized by States and their governments. They are not created by governments. Freedoms are given by God, not States. Citizens must be aware that Governments are primarily the entities that wish to curtail human freedoms by abuse of laws and regulations. Citizens need protection against the representatives of the citizens who believe they are better than citizens. The Council of Europe is the body that can do that. Certainly not the Lisbon Treaty's EU that was erected against the will of the people. That is an act of antipathy and hostility to elementary human rights.
States that stop fundamental freedoms can be suspended or even expelled from the Council of Europe. That was the case of Greece under the dictatorship of the colonels.
Among the Freedoms are:
- Freedom of Speech,
- Freedom of Assembly,
- Freedom of religion,
- Freedom to own and enjoy possessions etc.
Power can corrupt. Politicians tend to accumulate powers against the people. They reduce or freeze the people's voice. It disturbs them. They might listen and then ignore voices crying out about injustice and requiring honest government.
Following a ruling by the Court of Justice, politicians were forced to hold European elections to the European Parliament in 1979. That was a quarter of a century after politicians had signed treaties that such elections should be held. Today no elections are afforded to the consultative committees. The Council of Ministers still holds sessions behind closed doors instead of open sessions as the treaties require.
Many people objected to the way the politicians had responded to the ruling on European elections. The treaty and the great Charter of the Community said that pan-European elections were necessary. Instead, the politicians followed only the first part of the sentence in the article in the treaties. They decided to hold national elections to the Parliament according to national rules they invented rather than one election with one statute.
In the 1980s politicians, aware of public disgust at lack of open councils, and proper European elections, decided to launch a public relations operation to try to fool the people.
At the meeting of the heads of State and Government at Dublin in December 1984, they called for a report on 'People's Europe'. Ironic indeed since they had denied elementary democracy to the people.
The Adonnino Report came up with a number of measures. They were mostly of dubious legality as if the politicians could command various measures without the agreement of the people. Changes in sovereignty and constitutionality require the assent of the people. Instead the key feature was to provide a feeling of branding, and respond to what they considered to be a federal wish-list.
Prominent among these measures was the flag and the anthem. So what was the solution of the Adonnino panel? It made clear that the 12-star flag belonged to the Council of Europe. As a subset of this Human Rights Europe, the European Communities would have to indicate just that. So the committee suggested that a large letter E should be placed in the centre of the flag to show that dependency.
- a referendum of the people or
- a secret meeting?
Origin of the Flag
The European flag was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 9 December 1955 following a resolution in the Assembly:
In fact the question of creating a flag had been raised at the start of Europe's great institution that defines Europe as the zone of free speech and human rights. The Council started its work in August 1949 with 12 signatory States: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK (the ten signatories of the Statute on 5 May 1949) and two States that signed before the first session: Greece and Turkey and then in1950 from opposite end of Europe: Iceland.
|French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman signs Statute of Council of Europe at |
St James's Palace, London, 5 May 1949.
The Council's Director of Information, Paul Levy, a Belgian, was in charge of the project, and liked the basic design. In September 1953, the Assembly proposed 15 stars (then the number of States). French deputy Robert Bichet was rapporteur. But the Germans in the Council of Ministers refused. Among the 15 was the Saar, a disputed territory. The Saar objected to being cut out.
What about thirteen stars? Twelve stars in a circle with a large star in the centre? That was rejected as many did not like thirteen.
The Secretary General Leon Marchal suggested just 12 stars. Levy was charged to provide reasons to support it. He replied:
'Twelve is the sign of perfection and fullness. There were twelve tables of law in Rome; there are twelve apostles; there are twelve sons of Jacob; twelve months of the year; and twelve hours in the day; ... twelve signs of the zodiac represent the entire universe, so why shouldn't twelve stars represent Europe of both sides of the Iron Curtain and both sides of the Pyrenees?'
Leon Marchal drew the case of the twelve stars surrounding the woman of Revelation 12, which biblically represent the twelve tribes of Israel (as distinct to Roman Catholic views). Levy drew up details of the design for public use. Levy must therefore be considered the designer of the flag.
Was the flag a Marian or Catholic symbol? Not according to Levy who was at the origin of the design. It was Levy who drew that exact specifications of the flag. Levy was a Holocaust survivor. Marchal was also keen to have a politically neutral emblem. A religious symbol would not have passed the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers.
The Assembly's adoption of the flag on 8 December 1955, a 'Marian' date, was a 'political accident.' (Sauver l'Europe, pp163-8, published 1978.) The Marian idea was a later unsubstantiated fiction. The final decision was made on 9 December by the Committee of Ministers.
Meanwhile, officials at the European Coal and Steel Community had created their own flag. It was a not very aesthetic design. It had six stars in two rows of three but on a field divided horizontally between blue (steel) and black (coal).
Robert Schuman much preferred the Levy design. Then some decades later, in 1983 the European Parliament decided to take the flag as its emblem. The European Communities as a whole then decided they would also do the same.
For Schuman the synergy that was in the original proposition between the Council of Europe and the Community reinforced the necessity of unity: the Council of Europe was and is the human rights guarantor of the proper working of the Community.
The lesson of the European Flag is that all European institutions must come under the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and democratic supervision of the institutions of the Council of Europe. That includes respect for property rights.
The EU leaders will only properly guide Europe to her destiny when they are honest with themselves.