How was the flag of the European Union chosen

European flag

Why are there exactly twelve stars on the European flag?

Everyone has seen the European flag fluttering somewhere: a circle of twelve gold stars against a blue background. When they think of the number twelve, many immediately think of the number of member countries. But that's not true. There are more than twelve EU member states. And with every expansion, a new flag is not set up straight away.

Even if the EU grows to 30 or more participating countries, nothing about the twelve will change. The number has a different, traditional meaning.

The history of the flag begins in the 1950s. In 1955 the EU only existed as the European Coal and Steel Community. Six countries belonged to this post-war economic organization: Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries.

However, there was also another organization with more members: the Council of Europe. It was founded a few years earlier with the aim of advocating human rights and European culture. In its search for a symbol for its organization, the Council of Europe came across a circle of twelve gold stars with a blue background.

As a result, the Council of Europe asked the other European institutions to use this symbol. In 1985 the flag was finally adopted by all heads of state and government as the official emblem for the European Community.

It is now used by all European institutions. For the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, it is the only symbol. In addition to the European flag, other bodies also have their own symbols and emblems.

But why the twelve? It was not just the EU that made cohesion and togetherness a priority. Even the Council of Europe was concerned with unity between states and peoples. In this respect, the twelve was chosen deliberately.

In various traditions this number is traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity: Twelve months make up a year, there are twelve apostles and twelve hours of day and night. The circle of the golden stars stands for the solidarity and harmony between the European peoples.