Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Manneken Pis wants you? Pillow talk on “Brussels”?

Uncle Sam wants you, is one of the famous slogans worldwide. Everyone knows that Uncle Sam is the personification of the United States.

If you try to invent something equally hard hitting for the other great union, the EU, perhaps a sense of creeping despair affects you too.

The member states chucked out the official symbols of the European Union from the Lisbon Treaty (but leaving customary use), and for most of the EU’s 500 million population the union feels as personal and personable as a complicated chemical formula.

Brussels – in 23 official languages – has become the closest thing to the de facto capital and the main symbol of the European Union.

The use of “Brussels”, or “Brussels Bubble”, tends to be far from affectionate. The whipping-boy of Europe has an image problem, if we use a mild expression. Deservedly so, many would add.

To complicate matters further, Brussels is the official capital of Belgium (a country almost as complex and ungovernable as the European Union).

If and when “Brussels” wants to find a more engaging and cuddly symbol for citizens, the best known tourist attraction of Brussels is a statue of a peeing boy, Manneken Pis.

Despite the overabundant online offer of (fake) organ-enhancement and potency pills, Manneken Pis remains the symbol of Belgian Brussels, without growth potential to reach European stature.

Dear readers, before you turn to Mathew Lowry’s recruitment drive for subject specialist Euroblogs on EU issues, I invite you to think about the image of the European Union and the lack of official and unofficial symbols.

Does the European Union need and does it deserve more pillow talk?

Ralf Grahn