Flag of Europe
Adopted December 8, 1955
Designed by Arsène Heitz [1]
Proportions 2:3

The flag of Europe, also the flag of the European Union, [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.


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

The Virgin Mary with a halo of twelve stars.

The circle of stars bears a striking similarity to the twelve-star halo of the Virgin Mary seen in Roman Catholic art. The flag's designer, Arsène Heitz, has acknowledged that the Book of Revelation (which is where the twelve-star halo of the Virgin Mary was first mentioned) helped to inspire him. Revelation 12:1 is cited to explain the symbolism:

A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars

However, the official authorities of the European Union disregard the biblical interpretation as myth.


  1. European Union at 'Flags of the World
  2. Flag, anthem and logo: the Council of Europe's symbols
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European FlagsEdit

Europe Europe
Albania AlbaniaAndorra AndorraArmenia ArmeniaAustria AustriaAzerbaijan AzerbaijanBelarus Belarus
Belgium BelgiumBosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and HerzegovinaBulgaria BulgariaCroatia CroatiaCzech Republic Czech Republic
Cyprus CyprusDenmark DenmarkEstonia EstoniaFinland FinlandFrance FranceGeorgia Georgia
Germany GermanyGreece GreeceHungary HungaryIceland IcelandIreland IrelandItaly Italy
Latvia LatviaLiechtenstein LiechtensteinLithuania LithuaniaLuxembourg LuxembourgMacedonia Macedonia
Malta MaltaMoldova MoldovaMonaco MonacoMontenegro MontenegroNetherlands NetherlandsNorway Norway
Poland PolandPortugal PortugalRomania RomaniaRussia RussiaSan Marino San Marino
Serbia SerbiaSlovakia SlovakiaSlovenia SloveniaSpain SpainSweden Sweden
Switzerland SwitzerlandTurkey TurkeyUkraine UkraineUnited Kingdom United KingdomVatican City Vatican City

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