The Parliamentary Assembly recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Europe Prize. Created in 1955, this prize is awarded by the Assembly each year to a town or city which has made a major contribution to promoting the ideal of European unity (twinnings, co-operation and solidarity, European events, Europe Day etc).
The 50th anniversary celebrations began on 22 June 2005, during the Assembly’s third part-session, with a commemorative ceremony at which the speakers included Assembly President René van der Linden and the Chair of the Sub-Committee on the Europe Prize, Mr Guy Lengagne, together with Ms Brigitte Russ-Scherer, Chair of the Association of Towns awarded the Europe Prize and Mayor of Tübingen, which won the prize in 1965, and Mr Xosé Antonio Sánchez Bugallo, Mayor of Santiago de Compostela, which won the prize in 1985.
The ceremony was attended by the mayors of the towns which this year have been awarded the European Diploma, the first stage in the “race” for the Europe Prize. René van der Linden stressed the importance of the prize for European towns and its value in bringing people closer to the idea of European unity.
The celebrations continued in Santiago de Compostela on 1-2 July 2005 with the participation of Claudio Azzolini, Vice-President of the Assembly, and the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs as well as the mayors of 26 prize-winning towns. Events included a colloquy on “50 years of the Europe Prize: history of co-operation between European towns and future prospects”, the award of a reproduction of the itinerant Europe Prize trophy to the mayors of the prize-winning towns and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on the pilgrim route into the town. Quoting Dante, the Mayor of Santiago de Compostela noted on this occasion that it was on the roads to Santiago that an awareness of Europe had first emerged.
On 9 July 2005 the Sub-Committee on the Europe Prize awarded the prize for 2005 to Kaliningrad (Russia) at a public session of the city’s municipal council attended by, among others, the Mayor of Oudenaarde (Europe Prize in 2004), the Governor of the Region of Kaliningrad and the President of the Regional Duma, as well as several hundred citizens of Kaliningrad.