Today is Victory in Europe Day to commemorate the end of the Second World War in Europe, 77 years ago, on 8 May 1945.
What has VE Day to do with the European Union?
The European Economic Community – later to be called the European Union – was started in the aftermath of the Second World War with one purpose and one purpose alone: to create lasting peace between its members.
That was the passionate resolve of those who are regarded as the eleven founders of the European Union, including our own war leader, Winston Churchill. After all, Europe has a long and bloody history of resolving its differences through war, and indeed, the planet’s two world wars originated right here, on our continent.
So, the EU was never just an economic agreement between nations. It was always also meant to be a social and political union of European nations to enable them to find ways not just to trade together, but to co-exist and co-operate in harmony and peace on many levels as a community of nations.
The goal, in the founding document of the European Union called the Treaty of Rome, was to achieve ‘ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’ (which is rather different to ‘ever closer union of nations’.)
Just one year after the Second World War, in 1946, Winston Churchill made his famous speech in Zurich, Switzerland in which he said:
“We must build a kind of United States of Europe. The structure of the United States of Europe, if well and truly built, will be such as to make the material strength of a single state less important.”
In March 1957 the European Economic Community (EEC) was established by its six founding nations, France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. This was a remarkable achievement, considering that these countries only a few years previously had been fighting in a most terrible war, and four of the founding nations had been viciously subjugated by another of the founders, Germany, during their Nazi regime.
Maybe this is the point that many Brexiters simply don’t get. The European Union isn’t just about economics and trade, and never was. It’s about peace, and a community of nations of our continent working together for the benefit and protection of its citizens.
The UK has now rebuffed our allies in Europe, telling them by our actions and words that the precious, remarkable, and successful post-war project to find peace and security on our continent isn’t as important to us as it is to them.
Jon Danzig is a campaigning journalist and film maker who specialises in writing about health, human rights, and Europe. He is also founder of the pro-EU information campaign, Reasons2Rejoin. You can follow Jon Danzig on his Facebook journalism page at www.Facebook.com/JonDanzigWrites