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European Union: Changing the flag?

Last modified: 2023-06-10 by ivan sache
Keywords: european union |
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The European Union flag shall not change

Contrary to media reports, there is no intention to change the European Union flag. The design printed in The Independent and other newspapers is an initiative by Dutch architect and designer Rem Koolhaas for a project on Brussels - Capital of Europe. It has no official status.

Joe Hennon, DG Press - European Commission, 27 May 2002, communication to M. Schmöger

An official note by the European Union confirms that the European Union flag shall not be changed.

Pascal Vagnat, 6 July 2003

Rem Koolhaas' proposal for a new European Union flag

[Koolhaas' proposal]

Koolhaas' proposal - Image by António Martins, 29 September 2005

The flag designed by Rem Koolhaas is made of 45 vertical lines, standing for (approximate proportions):

  • Ireland: green - white - orange (1+1+1) / 3
  • United Kingdom: dark blue - white - red - white - dark blue (3+1+2+1+3) / 10
  • Portugal: red - green (2+3) / 5
  • Spain: red - yellow - red (1+1+1) / 3
  • France: dark blue - white - red (1+1+1) / 3
  • Belgium: black - yellow - red (1+1+1) / 3
  • Luxembourg: red - white - light blue (1+1+1) / 3
  • Netherlands, red - white - light blue (1+1+1) / 3
  • Germany: black - red - yellow (1+1+1) / 3
  • Italy: green - white - red (1+1+1) / 3
  • Denmark: red - white - red (2+1+2) / 5
  • Austria: red - white - red (1+1+1) / 3
  • Sweden: light blue - yellow - light blue (2+1+2) / 5
  • Finland: white - dark blue - white (2+1+2) / 5
  • Greece: white - light blue - white - light blue - white (1+1+1+1+1) / 5

António Martins, 16 May 2002

Quoting BBC News:

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas' new flag uses 45 vertical stripes, taking colours from every existing member's national flag. The logo - designed in response to a request by European Commission president Romano Prodi to find ways of rebranding the European Union - represents Europe's "diversity and unity",according to Mr Koolhaas. [..] The compromise design was - like the European Union stripes - intended to reflect both diversity and unity, but was also supposed to be simple enough "that a child could draw it recognisably". That many children already have difficulty remembering the order of the colours of the rainbow, raises the worry that the complex Koolhaas design may prove a little too taxing for young artists.
Jan Oskar Engene, 8 May 2002

A photograph on the website of the Austrian newspaper Der Standard shows this flag in official use, along with the regular European Union flag.
The logotype used as a flag has been adopted by the Austrian government as the logotype for the 2006 Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Of course, this version (at least the logotype - no mention of the flag being used, and the one in the photography seems to be the original) has many more stripes, for the new members; also, the order has been changed slightly.
The official website of the Austrian Presidency says:

The bar code as the Austrian Presidency logo now depicts the flags of the EU-25, arranged according to the geographical location of the Member States from West (left) to East (right).

On a TV image reported by André Coutanche, there is an "extended" design of the logotype, with what appears to be new stripes added at the right side for Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Cyprus, and (slotted in the middle, between Sweden and Finland) Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia (?), Malta, Hungary and Slovenia. The stripes are as expected and analogous to the already existing ones; noteworthy are Cyprus (white-yellow-white) and Czechia (with thinner blue stripe). It maybe from my eye, but Slovenia and Slovakia seem to have lost their blues. The geographic west-to-east was mostely respected (except for Malta), and even the pre-existing stripes for Britain were correctly moved from between Ireland and Portugal to between Spain and France.
This use at an official facility implies that the Koolhaas design lives on (at least till 2003). The original design was thus respected, its revision notwithstanding.

António Martins, Martin Karner, Nathan Lamm & Colin Dobson, 14 June 2006

Nuno António Gai Ata's proposal for a new European Union flag

[Gai Ata's proposal]

Gai's proposal - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 October 2002

Courrier International (#623, 10 October 2002) reports a new proposal initially published by the Portuguese newspaper Expresso. The proposal is a 1:2 flag, horizontally divided red / orange / pale green / dark green / purple / pink. It was proposed as an 'happy' flag by Nuno António Gai Ata. Expresso mentions that Nuno's flag might easily be confused with the Rainbow flag.

Ivan Sache, 13 October 2002

Hans Kruit's proposal for a new European Union flag

[Kruit's proposal]

Kruit's proposal - Image by António Martins, 16 May 2007

Hans Kruit has designed a new European Union flag proposal, this time a modification of the curent design, and a bit tongue-in-cheek.
Instead of a ring of yellow stars, a solid yellow ring is proposed. This enhances visibility and destinctness, gets us rid of clueless assumptions about the meaning of the number of stars and may stand for the "All clear" hand gesture.
Small print says:

This website and the design of a gesture, text and flag are citizen initiatives, not sponsored by any government or stakeholder. There is no tax money involved. The complete set of ideas is readily available to citizens and politicians of all European countries. To inspire. Because it's not only about the money, it's also about the feeling!
Idea and text: Hans Kruit
Design and production: Kruit Communicatie en vormgeving in gebruik."

Jorge Candeias & António Martins, 16 May 2007