Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The Capital of the European Union

Not all people know that Brussels in the capital of the EU (European Union), which now has 25 member states, and more on the way. And perhaps even fewer know that the buildings of the EU are only open to the public at most once a year. So, being the big political buff that I am (or maybe not), I decided to go to this Open Day and learn a little more about this side of the world. I mean, I did just finish learning about the Founding and American government - why stop now?

First of all, there are several different buildings in the complex, and each has its own function. The European Council is where all of the country representatives meet to discuss important matters. As you can see to the right, I had the privilege of arguing in favor of the United Kingdom, even if I've only been there a mere 3 hours (and in the London-Heathrow airport, no less). I learned that the presidency of the EU systematically changes every 6 months (how's that for a turnover rate), and the country in the presidency has the privilege of decorating Floor 50. (unfortunately, the building has nowhere near 50 floors - the Floor 50 is in fact, the 5th floor) Currently, Austria is in the presidency, and they have decorated the floor with such artifacts as some of the original manuscripts of Beethoven & Mozart. It was very interesting to see.

The European Commission is where they deal with such matters in the EU as humanitarian aid, agriculture, etc. Finally, there's the European Parliament, but I'm not too sure what they do there.

All in all, it was a great visit, which expanded my political mind and opened my eyes. I left with free juice (which was surprising, because not even drinking water or using the public bathrooms are free) and a copy of the EU constitution (which is much longer than the US Constitution), plus free stuff galore. Needless to say, I left happy.

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