Monday, June 11, 2007

Hello Brussels

Yesterday I left for Brussels in Belgium, the unofficial capital of the European Union. I will be here for two week on assignment for the European Commission.

It is a funny day to travel to Belgium as the county is having elections today. It looks like the present coalition is going to be voted away. Belgium is finished with the purple cabinet of socialists and Christians. In Belgium citizens are still obliged to go and vote. Those not going without a valid excuses risk a fine. This sounds like a package of measures from last century. But with a complex country like Belgium with a federative political and multi-lingual structure, I guess that you need such an obligation.

I named Brussels the unofficial capital of the European Union. Sometimes the French city of Strassbourg would like to claim that position also as it is the alternative seat to Brussels for the European Parliament. It is just an expensive way to keep France happy, but it requires 200 million euro annually for all the politicians and their staff to move back and forth between Brussels and Strassbourg. This money spilling exercise should be abolished.

I will not analyse the European politics about the constitution. In 2005 France and The Netherlands voted against a full European constitution with flag and hymn. It was a clear signal that the European Union is not nor should be a supra-national body. Besides it was a signal to tell that the European expansion was going to fast. The Union went from 15 countries to a union of 25 countries with other countries like Turkey waiting in the wings. It looks like the chiefs have received the signal and have started to draft a new minimalist treaty, which will not upset citizens.

I have taken my PC along and hope to be able to keep up the blog from my hotel room. Not this time. The hotel near the Stockmarket Exchange does not have wifi nor did the receptionist know anything about it. When the word internet fell I was referred to a phone company with phone and internet boxes. The guy behind the counter had never heard of wifi. Happily enough a guy, who just came into shop, understood my problem and told me to go the Irish pub on the corner of the Stock Exchange square, the Belgian version of Wall Street. And indeed the Irish pub O’Reilly has a wireless network. So with a beer close to my computer I will keep up blog.

Blog Posting Number: 780

Tags: Belgium, wifi

No comments: