March 11, 2012 Leave a comment
The European Union is, fundamentally, a combination of two things:
1. an optimistic idea, namely that European countries can achieve greater peace and prosperity by joining together, and
2. an enormous bureaucracy.
Optimism’s all well and good, but on a visit to the European institutions of Brussels and Luxembourg, one sees a lot more of the latter. The buildings are enormous, comprising their own quarters of their respective cities; the staffs are huge; and it all costs lots of money, which member states have to pay — in the hope, of course, that their contributions are supporting the Idea.
I paid such a visit last week, as part of the Fulbright program’s annual EU/NATO seminar. Over a day in Luxembourg and a week in Brussels, 30-some Fulbrighters from around Europe were treated to a guided tour (mostly figurative, partly literal) of the major European institutions. (We also treated ourselves to lots of mussels, fries, chocolate, and beer.)
And so I’ll pay the favor forward, as they say, by taking you, my dear readers, on a guided tour (mostly visual) of these institutions and their home cities.