The shared values of respect for the individual, tolerance, solidarity and equal opportunities are re-affirmed in the Berlin declaration adopted on 25 March. The role of the common market and the euro are also acknowledged for enabling the union to forge economic links and keeping it competitive in the face of globalisation.
The European model combines economic success and social responsibility, states the declaration, contrasting the war and division before the EU with the stability and economic growth its citizens now enjoy.
Commission president Barroso praised what the EU has achieved in the last 50 years: "Peace, liberty and prosperity beyond the dreams of even the most optimistic founding father of Europe."
But there is no room for complacency – the union needs to evolve with the times, with constant renewal of Europe's political shape. "To stand still is to fall back", said German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Concerning the thorny issue of a constitution for Europe, the declaration is cautious: "we are united in our aim of placing the European Union on a renewed common basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009."
"It is when we are able to unite our forces that we Europeans have every prospect of overcoming major new challenges and looking with confidence to future anniversaries", said Angela Merkel.