A little over two hours. This is all it took to set off my Dorothy syndrome. And no, I’m not talking about homesickness, since I was returning home, mind! I am talking about the feeling of being cast in a world that I now felt so distant from. Much like Dorothy, I’ve spent those two hours flying, thankfully not in a tornado, and on the other side my pet wasn’t the only one I could recognize. There, my family and friends were waiting, to guide my first steps out of the European bubble.
Better the devil you know
“Was this here before?” I couldn’t help but wonder. I think I must have put this question ten times on my way home. In Brussels they were talking about CAP reform. Here, people were selling fruits and vegetables on the side of the road. Back in the European forums they were discussing about road safety, and here, although few and far between, one could still spot carriages pulled by horses on the roads. And to top it all out, people still made the sign of a cross every time they passed in front of a church. Matter of fact, our first stop on our way back home was a monastery. And the explanation, as my mom put it: “well, since we happened to pass by, why not light a candle?”
I used to laugh about all this with a certain Swedish friend. I used to think that all these facts fall into the “unfair stereotypes” category that every European culture stacked over years. Now, on the other side of Europe, I’m not so sure. It dawns on me that maybe all these may seem like stereotypes in Brussels. Here though, they are just the harsh reality.
So I began to wonder. If we were so far off to consider this reality, how is the mighty European forum looked at from this neck of the woods? It took me a while to even form an opinion, because the fact is, it doesn’t exactly keep the headlines here.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the local and national media. The first EU story I saw was not even directly related to the EP. It was about the deadline set by my country’s government to enter the euro zone. Other than that, the effects of the economic crisis and our bickering politicians were stealing the show. So what seemed to be so important in Brussels, here was even hard to follow.
Is it still high and mighty?
No. At least efforts are being made to bring the activity of the EP in front of the general public. And I’m not talking about specialized media niches that cover EU affairs, no Sir! The EP’s web page keeps you up to date with all the activities of the Parliament. The EP’s team of editors works hard on offering user-friendly news about the Parliament and its members. These news cover decisions that could affect millions, and still, they don’t seem to have the same life-changing ring in the national media. Why?
The web site of the EP is definitely not a niche. It does not adopt a highly specialized language, on the contrary. The language is set to fit the taste of our common Latvian grandmother. Question is: why do I need to search for EP news? Of course I am following the EP’s activity on Facebook as well, but in both cases, the user, i.e. me, needs to be proactive about it.
The plan is to bring the EP to the citizens. To open its gates and to let them see that politics, even at a European level, is not something that comes from high above. There are some projects being set up right now that will do just that. Unfortunately, they remain suuuper seeecret.
“We need more Europe”, an MEP once said, and that’s exactly what they are trying to achieve in the EP. From aside, I can only confirm the need of it.
Greetings from Kansas!