What would Brussels be without the EU institutions?

Delphine Bourgeois, local councillor in charge of Europe at Ixelles, presented her book “Témoignages de ceux qui font l’Europe”, at Librebook on 3 May.

©Tony da Silva

What would happen if there was no EU anymore? What would Brussels be without the EU institutions?
It’s definitely worth wondering such questions, and this is one of the points of Delphine Bourgeois’ book, which came out last year. This idea came to her after the Brexit referendum took place in the UK.

While nationalism and populism are constantly rising across Europe, it is of major importance to deal with eurocitizenship. “We sometimes forget Brussels is a cosmopolitan city”, she said. 1/3 of the Brussels’ residents are indeed foreigners.

A part of the book is dedicated to the city of Brussels in terms of figures, as well as the consequences of the potential end of the EU in the Member states.

The main point of the book, however, lies within testimonies of Brussels stakeholders, who are strongly active in or benefit from the EU. “It is important to show the impact of Europe in Brussels”, Mrs Bourgeois added. The European elections will indeed be held next year, and there are quite unlikely to be successful for the pro-EU parties.

The book offers an input from EU high-level policy-makers, such as Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, or Georges Dassis, President of the European Economic and Social Committee. But it is also about meeting with local stakeholders, who can talk about all the improvements the EU has brought to the Belgian capital.

Marc Filipson, director of the Filigranes library, Gilles Ledure, director of Flagey centre, or Paul Dujardin, director of Bozar, indeed share their experience and the cultural aspects of the EU. Through these testimonies, it is another opportunity to discover Brussels and those who make your city European and international.

What’s next? Although that book can provide you with a good narrative on the EU, work has to be done on a daily basis. “We have to work on it within the cultural environment and the schools”, Mrs Bourgeois said.

That’s why, together with civic organisations, she has is used to setting up events to make the EU closer to its citizen. This is, however, a long journey.