Friday, October 09, 2009

European Commission

The second day in Brussels included a visit to the European commission, housed in the kind of building that Brussels seems to do so well - preserved red brick frontage, saved from the convent which used to occupy the site, with a modern designed for the purpose building behind it.
The chapel next door is an ecumenical one, designed by and looked after by Christians but open to all to use. Cleverly arranged with a space for private prayer and quiet contemplative group worship in the crypt, a welcoming space on the ground floor, a traditional chapel on the next floor and meeting rooms above, it provides a welcome haven in the busy day of a European civil servant.
The Commission does a great deal of the day to day work of proposing legislation and enabling the negotiations which enable agreement to be reached. The briefing provided some very useful information to counteract some of the myths which are perpetrated.
After that it was time to board the coach and head to the station in time to catch the train back to London. Wide open spaces make building high speed rail links relatively easy and the result is that it's significantly quicker to get to Brussels from London than it is to get to Newcastle. Yet we have a government that dithers over investment in high speed links in this country and when it does decide to invest it chooses the North West rather than the North East to include!

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