We've mentioned the Europa stamps a couple of times on the blog before, but never properly introduced them... so if you're interested in the history of this postal collectible, this post is for you!
The idea of making a "join stamp emission" came up in 1952, as a way to symbolise the joint community of interest and objectives that was starting to take shape in Europe. When the Treaty of Rome was signed some years later, the six countries that joined the new European Coal and Steel Community (Belgium, France, West-Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), issued a commemorative stamp: the first Europa stamps.
The stamp design was made by the French artist, Daniel Gonzague, it was a tower formed by the 6 letters of the latin word for Europe: Europa.
The newly created European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) took over the administration of the EUROPA stamps in 1960. In 1973 they decided that, in order for stamps to remain interesting for collectors, the common design should be replaced by a common theme, that each country was free to interpret in their unique designs. The themes would be chosen as a way to bring the different countries together to represent Europe.
In 1993, the management of the Europa stamps was taken over by PostEurop and the CEPT logo was then replaced by the new EUROPA logo. Today, all of these stamps that are released are done so by PostEurop, the association which represents the interest of European public postal operators.
In addition to deciding the themes of the future EUROPA stamps, PostEurop members have also created an annual competition, where everyone can vote for the “Best Europa stamp” of the year.
The popularity of the Europa stamps prompted many smaller administrative regions or special territories to express their interest in joining the group of issuing countries, and thus the circle grew larger. Currently, over 60 European countries issue Europa stamps annually.
To learn more about these special stamps, check out Jürgen's fantastic blog on Europa stamps (which he has been collecting since 1987). He also wrote a comprehensive 5-part series on the history of the stamps, which he kindly allowed us to condense for this blog post.