We all know it, the flag with the 12 stars on a blue background: the European flag. But do we know what the flag is about and why there are exactly 12 stars presented on the European flag? It is wrong to think that it reflects the number of founding states of the European Union or the Council of Europe. Only in 1986 did the European Union adopt the flag from the Council of Europe, which had introduced it to the public in 1955. In fact the 12 stars have a sole symbolic value: The number 12 has always been a symbol of completeness and unity.
But it was a long way until the European flag we know today was hoisted. Before the flag was accepted and introduced as the symbol of the Coucil of Europe, several different drafts of the flag were all rejected for various reasons.
- A draft with a golden sun and a red cross in the middle was rejected by Turkey, which also categorically refused any draft with a cross.
- Another draft of a committee with eight interconnected rings was refused because it was reminiscent of a telephone dial.
- Another draft with a gigantic green „E“ was dismissed as well. This draft was referred to as „Churchills underpants“.
- In 1953 a flag with 15 stars was supposed to be introduced. Germany resisted as this meant Saarland would have been indicated as an independent country with its own star on the flag. On the other side, Saarland as well as France did not accept the solution with 14 stars. 13 stars were, of course, also not acceptable, since 13 is an unlucky number in many places. That way 12 stars ended up on the flag, which is still being hoisted today without ever having been changed.