European citizenship needs strong symbols, including its own home, starting in Brussels, the centre of EU activity. In the European Quarter with the gleaming towers of the EU Institutions, the prestigious buildings of some 30, 000 lobbyists, lawyers and journalists embedded around them, citizens should have a place they can call their own. Such a house and its services should not just be a physical space but accessible virtually from anywhere in the EU and beyond, a product of the digital age. For a Europe of the citizens should not only exist in Brussels, and the house should be an immediately recognisable symbol anywhere across the continent.
Why such a house? Should it not be set up by the EU? In the past there has been support particularly from the European Parliament for such a house which even created a budget line for this purpose — a win-win situation both for citizens and the EU by reducing the gap between them. Would-be reformers of the EU also, however, meet resistance.
The EU Institutions claim to be already open and transparent with information, advice and assistance services as well as procedures for consultation, petitions or citizens’ initiatives whereby over 1 million citizens can demand a new law. Among 508 million citizens these remain though unknown and where they are used, expectations are often frustrated. Reforms to make the EU more open and democratic are failing to materialise and when they are introduced do not go far enough to inspire confidence.