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On the usefulness of unwritten symbols

(credit: European Commission/EBS)

(BRUSSELS2) A few years ago, the debate was raging. Should the European Constitution project (then the Lisbon Treaty) include the European flag and motto as fundamental symbols of the European Union? For the French, attached to Europe, who have learned to revere the Constitution as a republican catechism, and are imbued with an irreducible Cartesianism, it was not only obvious but obligatory. For those who did not want Europe, it was irreducible proof of the birth of a superstate.

But not all Europeans were on this Manichaeist conception. There can thus be a common symbolism without having a State. It can be obvious and impose itself on everyone without the need for a de jure inscription in an article 2 or 3. Libya is in the process of proving it to us. When Europe is there, of course, the European flag is out. And the placement of the blue flag with twelve yellow stars alongside the flag of the new Libya, on the court building overlooking the square of the same name, where the Libyan revolution was born, testifies to this. For non-Europeans, there is thus evidence that Europe is first and foremost a symbol of democracy and freedom… Our British friends are right. Unwritten rules are sometimes stronger and more imperative than all the others.

NB: it should be noted that the European Parliament has also adopted the habit of specifying the motto “united in diversity” at the bottom of the page of each of its official reports and agendas.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).