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.
(Council of Europe. Paris, 7–9 December 1955).
The history of the flag goes back to 1955. The Council of Europe – defending human rights and promoting European culture – adopted the present design for its own use and as such the CoE holds the copyright for the flag. However the Council of Europe agreed that the European Parliament adopted the flag to promote its use, and also by all EU leaders as the official emblem of the European Union. And despite being the flag of two separate organisations, it is often more associated with the EU due to the EU’s higher profile and a heavy usage of the emblem.
Concerning to protocol, it is mandatory for the flag to be used in every official speech made by the President of the European Council and it is often used at official meetings between the leaders of an EU state and a non-EU state, which the national and the European flag appearing together. E.g. in Spain, the Law 39/1981, of 28 October, it approved the use of the flag of Spain and other flags and ensigns. The own flag of ACs should be flown together with the flag of Spain in all civil public buildings of the territorial ambit of that, like the flags of the city halls or other corporations.
Sources of information:
Post written by Carmen Rafecas.