TODAY events will take place across the European Union (EU) to mark Europe Day, an annual celebration of peace and unity across the continent. Thousands of people will take part in visits, debates, concerts and other events to herald the day, raising awareness of the EU. Celebrations will understandably be more muted here in the UK, as we embark on the process of leaving the EU. However, in Edinburgh for example, Europe Day will be marked by a series of street stalls in the city centre, promoting the EU and its achievements.

The fact that the UK is working through the Brexit process to leave the EU does not mean we should not celebrate the EU and its many achievements, the foundation of which the UK played a major role in. These achievements and the benefits of membership are still recognised by a sizeable proportion of the UK public, including a majority here in Scotland who voted to Remain in last June’s referendum. Indeed, even after we have left it, the UK will of course still have to develop strong relations with the EU, our major trading partner.

The day is also known as Schuman Day, commemorating the historical declaration 67 years ago on May 9, 1950 by the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, which marked the first move towards the creation of the European Union. Europe had just come out of the Second World War, a conflict that had nearly destroyed the continent and split it between two spheres of influence.

In a desire not to repeat such destruction, there was a great deal of momentum towards European co-operation, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. Wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, standing next to Robert Schuman, had called for Franco-German reconciliation in a united Europe in a speech in July 1946.

Mr Schuman’s vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. Through the Schuman Declaration the French foreign minister proposed the creation of a supranational European institution. This led firstly to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) the following year. It was also the forerunner of several other European communities and also what is now the European Union.

The ECSC was founded on the principle that tying former arch-enemies economically together – originally through the weapons of war of coal and steel – would assist in ending the horrors of such conflicts and deliver much-needed reconciliation. And it has proven to be highly successful in transforming a previously warring continent, laying the foundation of peace, stability and prosperity after centuries of bloodshed.

While the EU may not be perfect, there is no doubt that it has exerted a positive influence on our lives and made us the richer for it.

Since the Schuman Declaration nations across Europe have forged closer links and come together to reach common solutions to common problems, keeping the peace and enhancing our collective security.

The EU gives the freedom to live, study, work or retire in 27 other EU countries and many millions from the UK have taken advantage of this. EU migration to our shores has in turn benefitted our economy and society.

Being able to trade with our EU partners via a single market of over half a billion consumers, unfettered by tariffs and trade barriers, is essential to many Scottish businesses. Indeed, the EU accounts for almost half of Scotland’s international exports.

Guaranteed rights to paid holidays; maternity and paternal leave; equal treatment for part-time and agency workers – all these are contingent upon our EU membership. We also enjoy considerable consumer protections such as the right to refunds on goods, lower mobile phone roaming charges and travel protections, to name but a few.

Co-ordinated action among 28 member states ensures cleaner water and beaches, cleaner air, tighter controls on new chemicals and reduced waste. Being part of the wider EU is also the best way to address the major global challenges we face – climate change, the threat of terrorism, energy security, the migration crisis and economic problems.

For those who are fighting for the values of freedom and democracy across the world the EU has been an inspiration, and for those member states formerly under the jackboot of dictatorship and Communism membership of the EU acted as a beacon of hope.

It does no harm in being reminded what we have enjoyed, the precious gift of more than 60 years of peace, stability and prosperity in a previously war ravaged continent.

The EU has on the whole proven to be a success story, and by leaving we are rowing against the tide of history, a move we will end up bitterly regretting.