THE European Union will mark the 50th anniversary of its founding next year; that is, if you accept that the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community of six countries, was the foundation stone of what exists today. Plans are emerging for the celebration of this event and thus far they have been appalling. A press conference at the European Commission yesterday revealed that a “song-and-dance contest” on the lines of the Eurovision song contest is being considered after it was proposed by Brussels. As if that were not bad enough, a cake-baking competition was also mentioned! There are also plans for a logo and “slogan” to be chosen by popular vote, although how that will be organised is anyone's guess.
The first thing that needs to be decided is whether the anniversary should be popularly “celebrated” at all.
The EU does not loom large in most people's lives and attempts to make it seem important will need more than songs and dances which could end up trivialising it. On balance there probably is a case for appropriate recognition of the 50th anniversary but it should be focussed on what has been achieved and remains to be achieved in the next 50 years. In the end the public will take notice of the EU because of the positive difference it makes to their lives rather than because it has a new logo and organises cake-baking competitions.