Postcard from... Brussels


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The Independent Online


Happy Europe Day!

That was the cry many eurocrats hoped was ringing out in at least a few nations yesterday as the continent celebrated 63 years since the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, gave a speech calling for the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner to the European Union.

Many of the buildings clustered by Schuman roundabout in the Brussels EU district threw open their doors earlier this week in the run up to Europe Day and invited the curious to see just what goes on behind the gleaming façades of the European Council and the European Commission. Other celebratory events took place across the EU yesterday.

But for many, the day just provided another excuse to analyse just what was going wrong with the European project. Writing a blog for Reuters news agency, Frederick Kempe asked “Is Europe losing faith in the EU?”

He pointed to plummeting popularity rates for the EU as citizens grow weary of the punishing austerity measures they see as an unwavering demand of Brussels.

Europe Day also coincided with some particularly dire figures from Greece showing that youth unemployment had reached 64.2 per cent.

They may be one of the groups the eurocrats could struggle to convince to pop open the bubbly.

Meanwhile in Ireland, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, activists arranged a protest against austerity outside the European Commission’s offices.