Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Getting Nearer to Brussels

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 21st September, 2007

Eurostar has successfully completed its trial run from Brussels to St Pancras Station, London, in well under two hours. Normal fare-paying passengers will be able to take advantage of this service before the end of the year, meaning that the ‘Capital of Europe’ should henceforth be seen as accessible as Manchester or Liverpool. I’m always astounded by how many Londoners have never been to Brussels, however, or even considered going. I know it doesn’t have the grandeur or Paris, or the naughtinees of (far more distant) Amsterdam, but the Grand’Place and surrounding area are beautiful and there are artistic treasures dotted around the city.

More pertinently, it is the nerve-centre of the EU, despite the grotesque anachronism of ongoing Euro-parliamentary sessions in Strasbourg. Yet how many people who gripe about the EU — usually on the basis of some article in the ‘Daily Mail’ or the ‘Sun’ — have actually gone to Brussels to find out what it’s all about? Do a quick survey, next time you hear a Euro-sceptic conversation in your local pub or wherever, and the response is likely to be telling. That is why the Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG) — of which I am London Representative — organises regular fact-finding visits to Brussels. I can thoroughly recommend them to anyone who has not been. Almost without exception, the people who come back from these visits have not only had a nice time — and discovered the Belgian capital’s gastronomic delights — but also understand and appreciate the positive things the EU does much better.



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