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Treaties of Rome (50th Anniversary)

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

On 25 March, the European Union celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. This is an important opportunity to mark the achievements of the EU. It is also is a key moment to look ahead to the new challenges and opportunities of the global age, and how the EU can deliver for its citizens in the next 50 years. On major cross-border challenges such as terrorism, climate change, energy security, economic competition, migration or organised crime, the EU plays a vital role. These are the issues that the Government put to the top of the EU's agenda during our presidency in 2005 and on which we are working successfully with partners to drive forward results. In this 50th Anniversary year, the Government will therefore continue to support a range of activities to raise awareness and engage the public in debate on key challenges and the EU's role in helping to address them.

As part of our celebrations to mark this significant anniversary, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) and the British Council will launch later this month a major year-long initiative called “Learning Together” to promote partnerships between UK schools and schools in other EU countries. Information will be made available to all schools across the UK about the range of opportunities available for schools to develop learning partnerships with European counterparts, including through EU programmes such as Comenius and e-Twinning. The initiative will ensure that relevant information and materials are made easily available to teachers. It will assist teachers and heads already in school partnerships to share their experience with other schools. This will help schools that have not previously taken part in international activities to get involved.

International partnerships and exchanges offer young people exciting opportunities, and can introduce international elements into a wide range of relevant curriculum subjects. “Learning Together” will also contribute to the Government's goal, outlined in the 2004 DFES International Strategy “Putting the World into World-Class Education”, of enabling every English school and college to establish a sustainable partnership with an international partner.

A wide range of other events will be taking place in the UK for the 50th Anniversary. For example, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Manchester United and the European Commission have organised a charity friendly football match between Manchester United and a Europe XI team. The “50 years in Europe and 50 years of Europe” match on 13 March will celebrate both the 50th Anniversary of the EU and the 50th anniversary of Manchester United's participation as the first English team to play in UEFA's European club competition. The University Association for Contemporary European Studies will host a conference at the FCO, entitled “Reflections on European Integration - 50 Years of the Treaty of Rome” on 23-24 March. And the European Movement in association with the Federal Trust and Chatham House will host a conference “Europe, the next 50 years” on 22 March.

At EU level, Heads of State and Government will mark the Anniversary at an informal meeting in Berlin on 25 March, and there will be an accompanying political declaration. Other EU-level events over the Anniversary weekend include a programme of cultural festivities in Berlin being organised by the German presidency, cultural events and a symposium in Brussels, and a Youth Summit in Rome.