Flag of the European Union
Adopted May 26, 1986
Designed by Arsène Heitz [1]
Proportions 2:3

The flag of the European Union, also the flag of Europe, [2] comprises of a ring of twelve upwards facing golden five-pointed stars on a blue field. Or in the European Union's heraldic description:

On an azure field a circle of twelve golden mullets, their points not touching.

Symbolism[edit | edit source]

The Council of Europe describes the symbolism of the European flag as follows:

Against the blue sky of the Western world, the stars represent the peoples of Europe in a circle, a symbol of unity. Their number shall be invariably set at twelve, the symbol of completeness and perfection ... just like the twelve signs of the zodiac represent the whole universe, the twelve gold stars stand for all peoples of Europe – including those who cannot as yet take part in building up Europe in unity and peace.

The resemblance of the flag to the canton of the United States Betsy Ross flag has often made people think that the number of stars in the design is somehow connected to the amount of countries in the European Union, like the stars in the flag of the United States represent the amount of states. This assumption however is false, especially considering the already mentioned fact that the flag is not solely the flag of the European Union. This assumption has lead to erroneous flags with fifteen stars and even to controversy at the time when it was adopted.

The number twelve represents perfection for the following reasons:

  • 12 hours on a clock
  • 12 months in a year
  • 12 symbols of the zodiac
  • 12 Apostles
  • 12 sons of Jacob
  • 12 Semitones in an octave
  • 12 days of Christmas
  • 12 Caesars chronicled by Suetonius
  • 12 Olympian gods
  • 12 labours of Hercules
  • 12 tables of Roman Law
  • 12 Hues in the colour wheel, star or sphere

References[edit | edit source]

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European Union

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