However, the holiday was tarnished with the heavy effects of the Global Financial Crisis which has been hitting Europe extremely hard since 2007. Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and now even France and Germany are going deeper into debt and the consequences on individuals are starting to show.
What went so wrong with a concept which was so appealing in the early 90s? What global challenges took this once-robust economy to such an extremely low level? What lies ahead for the European population?
Created on 1 November 1993 with the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union presently includes 27 members and was based upon a pre-existing European Economic Community.
But the idea was born a lot earlier: Victor Hugo, famous pacifist and French writer of Les Miserables was the first one to use the term in 1849 during the International Peace Congress in Paris: "A day will come when we shall see... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas."
Following the terrible human disaster of World War I, the idea began to rise again. In 1923, the Austrian Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi founded the Pan-Europa movement and hosted the First Paneuropean Congress, held in Vienna in 1926. The aim was for a specifically Christian, and by implication Roman Catholic, Europe. In contrast Trotsky raised the slogan "For a Soviet United States of Europe" in 1923, for a non-Christian but communist Europe.
In 1929, Aristide Briand, French prime minister, gave a speech in the Assembly of the League of Nations in which he proposed the idea of a federation of European nations. It was to be based on solidarity and in the pursuit of economic prosperity and political and social co-operation. Many eminent economists, among them John Maynard Keynes, supported this view. At the League's request Briand presented a Memorandum on the organisation of a system of European Federal Union in 1930.
In the early 1930s the French politician Edouard Herriot published the book The United States of Europe. The British civil servant Arthur Salter also published a book of the same name.
This concept was also adopted by the Germans during World War II, during the planning of the thousand year Reich. These Pan-European illusions were never realised because of Germany's defeat.
But again in 1943 Jean Monnet, a member of the National Liberation Committee in exile in Algiers said: "There will be no peace in Europe, if the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty... The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation..."
Europe was built on a common will to keep peace between its giants. The "Inner Six" accepted others in stages; three distinct stages of European construction can be distinguished:
1945 to 1957
This first segment was dedicated to rebuilding Europe: French and German coal and steel production was placed under a common high authority. The European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community were born in 1958 with the Treaties of Rome, closely followed by a Committee of Permanent Representatives and also the Parliamentary Assembly.
1958 to 1972
Between 1960 and 1966, the institution lived through its first crisis: British membership was rejected by the French and the financing of Common Agricultural Policy was largely debated.
1973 to 1993
From 1973, Europe relied on its more stable institutions to grow. Until the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, Europe established its authority as a unified body of countries. In 1990, East Germany was welcomed into the Community. Shortly after, Austria, Finland and Sweden acceded to the newly created European Union which came to fruition on 1 November 1993.
From then on, membership in the European Union became a very attractive option for many countries behind the former Berlin Wall and also beyond. The desire to be united overcame the profound cultural and economical differences between each country.
A "big bang" enlargement on 1 May 2004 saw 10 former Eastern bloc countries moving into the EU. In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania acceded to the Union.
Instead of increasing its power, the economic and social gaps between its member countries have been slowing its activity down since 2004.
Contributing factors have been the downfall of the euro, an alarming level of unemployment in Spain (25%), Greece and Ireland growing their debt exponentially, France and Germany, the first countries to have birthed this unified Europe, following them.
Economic factors have put the Community on a slippery ledge. Antoine Brunet, president of the firm AB Marches, has warned the Community of its weak financial position and the possibility this would allow China to alter the rules of the game and demand political favours for its possible financial support.
The desire to protect each European country from each other has opened the door to bigger threats.
Protectionism is thought to be just around the corner and is used as the major slogan by candidates in the French election.
But what national reality is hiding behind the label "Made In Local"? Jason Dyson, inventor of the famous hoover cleaner has warned the French candidates against the risks of economic patriotism. According to him, they'd better concentrate on research and tracking imitations.
2012 will be a decisive year. Not only France but a large number of countries around the Europe and the world will experience a change of leadership.
I believe difficult times lie ahead of us. In faith, we can only keep strong and support each other in these times of struggle.
1 Chronicles 28:20 NIV: David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
Julia Baber is French and has migrated to Australia with her English husband. They have one little son. Julia serves "The means to the way" an association encouraging French – Australian Cultural exchanges.
Julia Baber's archive of articles may be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/julia-baber.html