Intimate Brussels


50,000 Europeans – some estimate 100,000 – hammer out rules for 500 million. Civil servants, lobbyists, interpreters, representatives, assistants, trainees. Rather well-educated, multi-lingual and mobile people. Perhaps an elite, perhaps not.


We don’t know these people. The European Union doesn’t have myths and its protagonists have no face. If the EU is perceived at all from the outside, then it is perceived at best as a humourless governess, exhorting from a distance: no smoking, no forming monopolies, no discrimination! It is continually being said that the effectiveness of the confederation must be “marketed better”. We only have to hear the word "Europe" for our eyelids to begin to droop.


And yet these 50,000 shape our lives. What if you were to take a look at one of these people? If you were to take a stroll through Brussels, leaving the summit conferences behind you, walking through back doors and private rooms, studying the fairies and leprechauns of the eurobubble? If you were to look down on their dealers, ladies and gentlemen of the night, pastors, cleaners, if you were to rub up against their Belgian, Arab, Congolese neighbours, if you were to observe their styles, affairs, forms of expression and describe them in brief amusing features – wouldn’t that be something new? That’s exactly what I want to attempt.


With themes rooted in the entire continent, I describe Europe in my new column through the prism of a milieu, the transient milieu of the eurobubble. I experience this milieu myself, earmarked by constant change and trolleys rumbling through the worlds of the eurocrats and lobbyists.


INTIMATE BRUSSELS – 27 peoples, plus the minorities and the stateless, plus the outsiders, the ones who don’t want in and those sentenced to the Neighbourhood Policy. 27 times 27 and one or two more relationships, romances, bitchiness. New European traits and the remaining intimate parts of national identity.


All nations run me by. In the end, the whole of Europe is to be portrayed. I am an alien in Brussels. I walk into it naively and astonished and hoping for results, with the eye of the foreigner.


If I find a den of iniquity, I’ll tell of it. If I find tribal feuds or aseptic Europeans, then I’ll tell of them. And if I find boredom, I’ll talk of boredom.



The stories were published in:


- Austria: Die Presse

- Germany: Stuttgarter Zeitung, Freitag

- Switzerland: Südostschweiz, Der Bund

- Slovakia: Týždeň