Chris Gabriel, HC Bosnia Herzegovinia Demila Gabriel, Portuguese Chamber of Commerce rep, HVC Slovenia Mark Stariha, Irene Stariha

The EU Delegation to Australia, together with the European Investment Bank regional office for the Pacific based in Sydney, the Europe Australian Business Council and the NSW European Union Parliamentary friendship group gather in Sydney on 8 May to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome while the Sydney Opera House is lit EU Blue.

*from European External Action Service (EEAS) website

Europe will take centre stage in Sydney tonight with the sails of the Sydney Opera House lit in blue to mark Europe Day.

Europe Day celebrates French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman’s declaration in 1950 to his fellow European partners, proposing to pool sovereignty in the coal and steel industries. This laid the foundations for the creation of the European Union project. It also set Europe up for its longest period of peace in its history and created the world’s largest economic bloc with more than half a billion citizens.

The European Union’s Ambassador to Australia, Sem Fabrizi, said the day would also be devoted to marking the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the founding document of what is today the European Union.

“After two devastating World Wars the Schumann declaration was a visionary idea to cooperate through sharing and pooling sovereignty. This laid the foundations for a long lasting reconciliation of Europe,” Ambassador Fabrizi said. “The Treaty of Rome made it a reality applying this idea to the greater set of common policies.”

“It is fitting we light the sails of the Opera House to not only celebrate Europe Day but also the Treaty of Rome. This brought together a group of six nations that has since grown to 28. It set in motion the process of abolishing internal borders, the creation of the common currency, the euro, and the reunification of a divided continent after the fall of the Berlin wall.”

Europe Day and the Treaty of Rome will also be celebrated by other members of the European community at a function in Sydney tonight. These include the European Australian Business Council (EABC), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the New South Wales European Union Parliamentary friendship group.

EU EABC Anniversary event - Opera House

The Head of the regional office of the European Investment Banik in Sydney, Adam Bruun, said the Schumann declaration and Treaty of Rome had begun the process for the EU to become the world’s largest development donor.

“Not only was the integration process an imperative factor in the development of EU economies, but the EU vision of free markets and international prosperity has been providing great assistance to developing economies world-wide,” Mr Bruun said.

The Hon Nick Greiner AC, Chairman of the European Australian Business Council (EABC), stated that this 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome would provide a time to reflect on EU successes, but also the work to be done to secure enhanced co-operation with strategic partners such as Australia, including the launch of negotiations this year for an Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement.

“Europe’s single market of 500 million consumers presents enormous opportunities for Australian companies to export high-quality goods and services abroad, whilst Australia’s economic growth and integration with Asia, the fastest growing region in the world, makes it an obvious partner for Europe” Mr Greiner said. “Given the momentum behind forces seeking to wind back the clock on global trade, an accelerated and ambitious FTA would be a powerful expression of commitment to open trade and the overwhelmingly positive benefits which will undeniably flow.”