The European Union project is currently going through a rough period. The Anti-European sentiment is growing under the European people and the reason is not unilateral. France and the Netherlands voted against the formation of a European constitution in 2005, The Euro-crises, the continuous decrease in voter-turnout for the European elections and populism are just a few examples of this Euro-skepticism. Europe is often regarded as slow moving, money swallowing super institution that is unable to fulfill the wishes of the member states.
My position questions this skepticism. The European Union is unique project that ensured and will keep ensuring the prosperity of the Europe. It was born as a necessity for the rebuilding the continent after the devastation of the Second World War, economically, socially and politically and in these times it had great support of the public, there were even manifestations pro- Europe, something that is in stark contrast with today.
In the past decade Europe became more concrete, its in our pockets and because of the Schengen-agreement other countries (read cultures, economies, but also politics) came closer then ever. Many events have led up to the creation the project, it is time these accomplishments and their true agenda are made clear to the people, something Europe is noticeably struggling with and even tangible in the Capital of Europe, Brussels.
Research of Europe changed my perception of the project. It is not the goal for Europe to become one single entity, that often boosts fear into the heads of the nation states. It is not the captain of a ship in which the European counties are passengers. It is an armada of ships, where each ship carries its own flag. At first my opinion of the European project was that it, like many others, should back off and act more humble. It is now that I understand that Europe doesnʼt need to back off, it is in need of a original, strong image. Not strong in the sense of monumental, but something that can be regarded as unique. Not one single identity, that would be in contrast of the European project itself, but capable of containing many identities.
Something where the idea of the European Union could be seen, transparent, communicative and diverse. A network of places to where not only the people of Brussels can relate to but also the people of Europe, a tangible place where humans can interact and learn about the EU. The Schuman-ghetto, or officially Quarter Européen, is currently one single, car infested district occupying an important part of the city-centre with megalomaniacal buildings and hardly any public space, not different from the CBD in Frankfurt. Occupying Brussels, meanwhile the city of Brussels itself is a representation of Europe.
Cultural diversity, high number of immigrants, high unemployment rate, growth of the population, the fragmentation between the cosmopolitan south-east and the poor north-west. Governmentally Brussels has 19 municipalities, each with their own authorities and one administrative region (in both French and Dutch). Though Brussels is one of the capitals of Europe with the highest GDP, mainly because of the 90% that work in the service centre, is related to the attraction as the capital of Europe. This Dr. Jekyll mr. Hyde role of the EU in Brussels should disappear. It is time that Europe gave something back to the city.
In contrast with the current situation Europe could be used as Euroglue for the city of Brussels, spreading the buildings around the city like a network. The buildings of Europe can then join the fragmented parts of the city, while the urban dynamic of Brussels can improve the image of Europe. Then Brussels will become the true Capital of Europe.