Motto of the European Union

Motto of the European Union
Motto in the 23 official languages
Bulgarian Единни в многообразието
Czech Jednota v rozmanitosti
Danish Forenet i mangfoldighed
Dutch In verscheidenheid verenigd
English United in diversity
Estonian Ühinenud mitmekesisuses
Finnish Moninaisuudessaan yhtenäinen
French Unis dans la diversité
German In Vielfalt geeint
Greek Ενότητα στην πολυµορφία
Hungarian Egység a sokféleségben
Irish Aontaithe san éagsúlacht[1]
Italian Unita nella diversità
Latvian Vienotība dažādībā
Lithuanian Vienybė įvairiškume
Maltese Magħquda fid-diversità
Polish Jedność w różnorodności
Portuguese Unidade na diversidade
Romanian Unitate în diversitate
Slovak Jednota v rozmanitosti
Slovene Združeni v raznolikosti
Spanish Unidos en la diversidad
Swedish Förenade i mångfalden
For further translations, and details, see "official translations" below.

United in diversity is the official motto (in the English language) of the European Union (EU).[2] Its translations in the other 22 languages of the EU (see right) have equal standing. The Latin version, In varietate concordia is also used as a compromise.[3] It is one of the newest symbols of Europe, alongside the European flag and anthem but, unlike most, it is specific to the EU rather than originating from the Council of Europe.



According to the European Commission:[4]

The motto means that, via the EU, Europeans are united in working together for peace and prosperity, and that the many different cultures, traditions and languages in Europe are a positive asset for the continent.


The European motto was first adopted in May 2000 as "Unity in diversity" through a non official process since it was a contest involving 80,000 students from the 15 countries of the European Union (a.k.a. "EU-15"): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden & United Kingdom.[5]

La Prairie's project (1998-1999)

In April 1998, French newspaper Ouest-France’s Patrick La Prairie proposed the organization of a European mottoes contest for the, then 15, EU members' secondary education students.[6] This event was meant as a 50-year celebration of Founding father of the European Union Robert Schuman's famous declaration about a supranational Community which eventually led to the creation of the actual European Union.[6]

Back in 1998, the European Union had already a flag of Europe, and anthem of Europe and was about to launch the euro, its currency; it lacked a motto, hence, the contest proposal.[5] Journalist La Prairie was in charge of Ouest-France 's Press-School mission and found two sponsors, World War II French museum Memorial de Caen and -then public company- France Telecom. 40 newspaper partners were found in France as well as in the remaining countries of EU-15;[7] with at least a newspaper per country, e.g. La Repubblica in Italy,[8][9] Le Soir in Belgium,[10] Irish Times in Ireland, Berliner Zeitung in Germany and The Guardian in UK.[11]

The project was officially launched on March 31, 1999 with the opening of, the une devise pour l'Europe contest's official website managed by France Telecom. The website featured pedagogic files, created by the operation's general Office located at the Caen Memorial, and teachers oriented pitches and registration forms available in the eleven official European languages (plus Catalan).[5] The English language version, called "A motto for Europe", had its website hosted at The contest's slogan was "The only prize will be to write a page of Europe's History" (La seule récompense sera d’avoir écrit une page d’histoire de l'Europe).[5]

A motto for Europe (1999-2000)

"A motto for Europe" contest logo.

In September 1999, a contest was held at the start of the school year to invent a motto for the European Union. Two thousand five hundred seventy five classes were involved,[5] with students ranging from ages ten to nineteen.[10] The main rule was that the motto had to consist of a sentence of no more than twelve words, with an accompanying explanation of no more than 1,500 characters written in the class's local language. An English version of the explanation was also required, since the teachers used this language to communicate between themselves.[5] National and European winners were selected the following year.[5]

By the contest deadline, January 15, 2000, 2016 mottoes had applied.[12] A lexical analysis of this 400,000-word corpus was done by Taylor Nelson Sofres to reveal the most popular terms used by the young Europeans, which were: "Europe", "peace", "unity", "union", "together", "future", "difference", "hope", "solidarity", "egality", "liberty", "diversity" and "respect".[12] This study was later used by the jury during the national selection.[5]

During February 2000, each member of EU-15's media partner managed a top 10 national mottoes selection in order to later submit it to a second jury in charge of the European selection. These 142 mottoes were all translated in the 11 official European languages.[5]

On April 11 and 12 2000, the European Media Jury based at the Memorial of Caen, chose 7 mottoes among the late February selection (one voice per country). Those were next submitted to a final European Grand Jury in Brussels.[5]

Proclamation at the European Parliament (2000)

On May 4, 2000 almost 500 schoolchildren from fifteen classes of the EU-15 (top class of each national selection) were gathered at the European Parliament in Brussels to assist the proclamation of the motto chosen that day by the 15-member Grand Jury including former Chancellor of Austria Franz Vranitzky, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Susanna Agnelli, former Belgian astronaut Dirk Frimout, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Luxembourgian historian Gilbert Trausch, former German President of the Bundestag Rita Süssmuth, Irish Senator Mary Henry, former British President of the European Commission Roy Jenkins and former French President of the European Commission Jacques Delors.[12]

The motto was displayed on a blue background located behind 24th President of the European Parliament Nicole Fontaine (see picture). Unité dans la diversité, French language for Unity in diversity was translated in the eleven official languages of the EU plus Latin, In varietate concordia, as read out by President Nicole Fontaine.[5][10] The motto had been devised by Luxembourgian youngsters and prefaced by Chairman Delors who added "Europe:" to it.[13] Probably by coincidence, the same motto had been used in the title of a Workshop held in the European Centre for Modern Languages (Graz) on 23–25 April 1998: "East meets West: Unity in Diversity". The title was chosen by Dónall Ó Riagáin, on behalf of the organizers, the European Bureau for Lesser-Used languages (EBLUL). He attributes the expression to John Hume, the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland when he first used it, in about 1983, perhaps basing it on the text "E pluribus unum"’ on the Seal of the USA.

Since it had to be submitted for official approval by the fifteen Chiefs of State of the European Council at Santa Maria da Feira on June 19 and 20 2000, President Nicole Fontaine stated: « I want it to become the motto of all institutions, just as we have a flag and anthem ».[10]

The six rejected mottoes were "Peace, Liberty, Solidarity", "Our differences are our strength", "United for peace and democracy", "United in liberty", "An old continent, a new hope", "All differents, all Europeans!"[12]

"Unity in diversity" has been the national motto of Indonesia since 1945 (Bhinneka Tunggal Eka, in ancient Javanese)[7] and on April 27, 2000 post-apartheid South Africa adopted a similar motto (ikee:/xarra/ike) in "Xam" (an extinct Khoisan language) which also translates in English as "Unity in diversity".[7]

European Council speech (2000)

On June 19, 2000, at Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, 24th President of the European Parliament Nicole Fontaine concluded her official opening speech with the introduction of the European Union motto (Unité dans la diversité[14]):

Pending the outcome of a much broader debate on the future of a Europe of 28, those citizens need clear ideas: open and lasting institutions and "unity in diversity", to quote the motto adopted a few weeks ago by 80000 young Europeans. official English translation by the European Parliament[15]

Since then this motto was used by several European officials during their speeches at Strasbourg, including President of European Commission Romano Prodi on July 4, 2001 « our real strength lies in "unity in diversity" »,[16] Italian rapporteur Giorgio Ruffolo on September 4, 2001 « Therefore, the expression ‘unity in diversity’ has been chosen as the motto of the report »,[17] Austrian member of the European Parliament Paul Rübig on April 10, 2002 « Europe is, after all, about unity in diversity »[18] or Spanish Member of the European Parliament Raimon Obiols i Germà on September 4, 2003 « Yesterday the President of the European Convention ended his speech by evoking the future European motto: united in diversity ».[19]

European Constitution (2004)

In 2004, the motto was written into the failed European Constitution's Article I-8 about the EU's symbols.[20]

Article I-8

The symbols of the Union
The flag of the Union shall be a circle of twelve golden stars on a blue background.
The anthem of the Union shall be based on the 'Ode to Joy' from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven.
The motto of the Union shall be: 'United in diversity'.
The currency of the Union shall be the euro.
Europe day shall be celebrated on 9 May throughout the Union.

The motto translations were slightly modified since 2000, including the English language version becoming « United in Diversity ». Though this constitutional treaty was eventually rejected by the French and Dutch voters on May 29 and June 1, 2005.

Europe Day (2005)

On May 9, 2005, the European Commission issued promotional items such as a postcard featuring the symbols of Europe: the European flag, the European anthem, the European motto (now "United in diversity") and the Europe Day.[21] Only lacked the European currency which was in the Treaty of 2004 but not yet constitutional.[21] The official Europe Day poster also used the modified motto "United in Diversity".[22]

The same day the new motto (Unie dans la diversité) was proclaimed by 1,000 youngsters at the Memorial of Caen as a 5-year celebration.[23] These words were now written in the European Constitution project[23] that was though rejected through referendum few days later.

Treaty of Lisbon (2007)

The Treaty of Lisbon, concluded in 2007, does not contain any article dedicated to symbols of the European Union. It retained much of the 2004 treaty but omitted the articles defining the European symbols, namely the flag, anthem and motto. It does however contain a declaration by 16 member states who affirmed their recognition of the symbols.[24] In response to the omission of the symbols from the main treaty text, the European Parliament took the avant-garde in using the symbols as it had done in adopting them in the first place.[25] Parliament changed its internal rules to make more use of the symbols. In the case of the motto, it would be printed on all Parliamentary documents.[26][27]

Official translations

The first 11 official EU languages and Latin (2000)

The original French motto Unité dans la diversité was translated in the other ten official EU languages plus Latin when was proclaimed the motto for Europe on May 4, 2000.[10]

  • Danish: Forenet i mangfoldighed
  • Dutch: In verscheidenheid verenigd
  • English: Unity in diversity
  • Finnish: Moninaisuudessaan yhtenäinen
  • French: Unité dans la diversité
  • German: Einheit in Vielfalt
  • Greek: Ενότητα στην πολυμορφία
  • Italian: Uniti nella diversità

23 official EU languages (2004)

The motto was translated into the 23 languages in which there were official translations of the European Constitution on October 29, 2004[28][29] (the treaty, and hence the motto, was officially translated into Bulgarian and Romanian despite the fact they would not join for a further three year - Irish was not included however but is on the list here as it became an EU language in 2007):

  • Bulgarian: Единни в многообразието
  • Czech: Jednota v rozmanitosti
  • Danish: Forenet i mangfoldighed
  • Dutch: In verscheidenheid verenigd
  • English: United in diversity
  • Estonian: Ühinenud mitmekesisuses
  • Finnish: Moninaisuudessaan yhtenäinen
  • French: Unie dans la diversité
  • German: In Vielfalt geeint
  • Greek: Ενότητα στην πολυµορφία
    (Enótīta stīn polymorfía)
  • Hungarian: Egység a sokféleségben
  • Irish: Aontaithe san éagsúlacht[1]
  • Italian: Unita nella diversità
  • Latvian: Vienotība dažādībā
  • Lithuanian: Suvienijusi įvairovę

Unofficial translations

There exist translations of the motto into languages other than the 23 official languages of the EU.

Languages of EU member states

Languages of EU membership candidates

Further translations in the EU candidates official languages were elaborated by the European Union or the candidate States themselves:

See also


  1. ^ a b EUROPA - Sracfhéachaint ar an AE - Siombailí an AE - Aontaithe san éagsúlacht
  2. ^ EUROPA - The EU at a glance - The symbols of the EU - United in diversity (EU's official website) accessdate:2010.01.20
  3. ^ "In varietate concordia is the Latin motto chosen by European citizens in 2000. Its official English translation is "Unity in Diversity" in Eurodiversity: a business guide to managing difference, page 110, by George F. Simons & Arjen Bos, 2002
  4. ^ European Union official website United in Diversity, accessdate: January 20, 2010
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ouest-France official website, "Europe in symbols - A motto for Europe" (L'Europe en symboles - Une devise pour l'Europe), Patrick La Prairie, date:2009.02.27, accessdate:2010.01.20
  6. ^ a b Students give a name to Europe (Les élèves donnent une devise à l'Europe), Congrès Newropeans, October 5, 2000. Patrick La Prairie.
  7. ^ a b c note 8: A. RIZZO, Europa futura un motto togliattiano, in La Stampa, 14 July 2003
  8. ^ Repubblica official website "And now Europe searches for a motto" (E ora l'Europa cerca un motto), author:Corrado Augias, date:2000.03.07, accessdate:2010.01.20
  9. ^ "E ora l' Europa cerca un motto" archived in the official European Navigator (Luxembourg)
  10. ^ a b c d e "A compromise motto for Europe" from Le Soir (5 May 2000) archived in the official European Navigator, accessdate:2010.01.20
  11. ^ Members of the European Media Jury and of the European Grand Jury for the "A motto for Europe" competition (European Navigator)
  12. ^ a b c d A motto for Europe (Une devise pour l'Europe), "Europa: in varietate concordia", by R. Urbain, excerpt from the official press file (published by the Luxembourg class that was at Brussels)
  13. ^ "The Symbols of the European Union: the origin of the motto" (I Simboli dell'Unione europea, Bandiera - Inno - Motto - Moneta - Giornata), by Carlo Curti Gialdino, Professor of International Law at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and Legal Secretary at the Court of Justice of the European Communities from 1982 to 2000, 2005, pages 130~132. European Navigator archive English version translated by the CVCE
  14. ^ Original SPEECH by Mrs Nicole Fontaine President of the European Parliament at the Special Meeting of the European Council in Feira on 19 June 2000 publisher:European Parliament, date:2000.06.19, accessdate:2010.01.21
  15. ^ English translation of the SPEECH by Mrs Nicole Fontaine President of the European Parliament at the Special Meeting of the European Council in Feira on 19 June 2000 publisher:European Parliament, date:2000.06.19, accessdate:2010.01.21
  16. ^ Debates Wednesday, 4 July 2001 - Strasbourg - OJ edition, European Parliament
  17. ^ Debates Tuesday, 4 September 2001 - Strasbourg - OJ edition, European Parliament
  18. ^ Debates Wednesday, 10 April 2002 - Strasbourg - OJ edition, European Parliament
  19. ^ Debates Thursday, 4 September 2003 - Strasbourg - OJ edition, European Parliament
  20. ^ Official Journal of the European Union, English version, C 310/13, 16.12.2004, "Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe - PART I - TITLE I - Article I-8" (page 11)
  21. ^ a b Postcard showing the symbols of the European Union (2005).
  22. ^ Europe Day 2005 poster - English version
  23. ^ a b Europe has celebrated its motto at Caen, Ouest-France, Xavier Alexandre, 2005.05.10
  24. ^ Declaration (No 52) by the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hellenic Republic, the Kingdom of Spain, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Lithuania, the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Austria, the Portuguese Republic, Romania, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic on the symbols of the European Union
  25. ^ Beunderman, Mark (2007-07-11). "MEPs defy member states on EU symbols". EU Observer. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  26. ^ "EU Parliament set to use European flag, anthem". EU Business. 11 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-12. [dead link]
  27. ^ Kubosova, Lucia (9 October 2008). "No prolonged mandate for Barroso, MEPs warn". EU Observer. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  28. ^ European motto In varietate concordia, Eurominority
  29. ^ Devise européenne
  30. ^ Delegacija Europske komisije u Republici Hrvatskoj, accessdate: August 27, 2008. Motto used by the Croatian delegation of the European Commission in Croatia[dead link]
  31. ^ Letter from the foreign ministed Milokoski to Mr. Leonard Orban, multilingualism commissioner This version is used in the translations produced by the Macedonian government about the multilinguism questions; e.g., the bilingual letter from July 28, 2008
  32. ^ Писмо на мнр Милошоски до Леонард Орбан, комесар за повеќејазичност во Европска комисија same document in Macedonian language instead of English
  33. ^ Article about the European Union on the Turkish Wikipedia tr:Avropa Birliği

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