Happy birthday, EU

Today is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Union. It was created on this day in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome. Although the exact nature and membership of the bewildering variety of treaties and organizations in Europe has shifted regularly over the last 50 years, today marks an important date in European history.

There are huge celebrations going on today in Berlin to mark the occasion. The leaders of all 27 EU member states are present, and will be hosted for dinner this evening at German President Horst Koehler’s residence. There will also be a summit tomorrow which is expected to endorse a statement on the European Union’s accomplishments and highlighting some of the challenges the Union faces in the near future.

The occasion is also being used by Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to revisit the issue of the European Constitution. The Constitution was rejected two years ago by both France and the Netherlands. That is likely to be a divisive issue, as is the enlargement of the EU to include new member states in the Balkans, as well as Turkey.

Those and other issues are complex and important topics in their own right. The community of Europe will have to face the challenges before it in the coming days, and for years in the future. The path will not be easy, but the political wrangling can wait. Today, Europe celebrates.

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