Sunday, January 18, 2009

EU Symbols

EU Law is rarely amusing but it can happen. Here is a recent example. A French newspaper has suggested that the EU should remedy an important problem: Contrary to many organizations or countries, the EU does not use an animal as one of its symbols.

Eu_flag_2 It may be worth mentioning that the EU already has its own flag (twelve yellow stars on a blue background) and its own anthem (the “Ode to Joy” from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven). Strangely enough, when it was decided to codify these symbols in the so-called EU Constitution – a text which never entered into force following two negative referenda in France and in the Netherlands in 2005 – some people vociferously opposed this idea on the (fallacious) ground that this was a decisive step towards statehood…

Anyhow, returning to the question of which animal the EU should chose, the newspaper has found that two animals have the favors of the EU politicians it talked to: the dove and the bull. The dove is certainly a good symbol for those keen to emphasize that, by contrast to the US, the EU is above all a “soft power.” The bull is favored by the history-minded. Indeed, in the Greek mythology, Europa was the name of a Princess abducted by Zeus and carried off from Phoenicia to Crete after Zeus turned himself into a Bull. Other animals have been suggested with less success: the owl, the elephant, the turtle, and even a turtle-dragon… If I may, my personal favorite is the Sitta europaea. The only problem is that this small bird is apparently found in all the EU Member States with the exception of Ireland. It may be wise, therefore, to pick it only after the next Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon (I’m only kidding of course…)


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