While passing through the idyllic Ardennes region in May 2002, the Monkey stopped at a special place along the banks of the Our River where Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg meet. The small field he found there is unclaimed Europe—not Germany, not Luxembourg, not Belgium, just Europe.
This Monument to Europe came about in the 1970s when each of the triborder states ceded a small parcel of land to commemorate the initial, post-war steps toward European unity. The first concrete pass toward a “European Union” occurred in May 1950 when the Luxembourg-born French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman called for France, West Germany, and any other European country interested to combine their efforts and create an independent, supranational authority to oversee their coal and steel industries. By April 1951, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands had joined France and West Germany in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Soon these six signed a common defense treaty, and the path toward the modern European Union was well underway.
The Monkey poses at the Monument to Europe. The flags of each European Union member state fly in the sliver of unclaimed territory that is the monument to Europe. This means that, a few years after the Monkey’s 2002 visit, they needed to add ten new flagpoles for the new member states!
While just 50 odd years ago this land was bitterly contested ground, today it is a symbol of the post-war efforts to create a cooperative, peaceful Europe. This stateless place is one of the more peculiar locales the Monkey has ever had the pleasure to visit.
The Monkey in three countries at once! His bum is in Germany (no disrespect intended), his right foot in Belgium, and his left foot in Luxembourg.
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