Speeches
Internal Policies and EU Institutions

Speech at the official opening ceremony of the "Parlamentarium" new EP Visitors' Centre

Brussels -
Friday 14/10/2011

Dear Minister President Picqué

Dear Bourgmestre Decourty,

Dear Bourgmestre DeWolf

Dear Vice- Presidents of the European Parliament,

Colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

We are here to celebrate the public opening of the superb new Visitors' Centre - The Parlamentarium! It has taken six years of work from the original idea to get here today and we can all be proud!

I am convinced that the new Parlamentarium will be a great success. I have three reasons for this:

The first reason is that the Parlamentarium shows that the European Parliament truly matters.

Europe is not something abstract, which is only for elites. On the contrary, Europe concerns all of us. From the quality of the food we consume, the air we breathe, to the protection of health and safety at the work, there are hundreds of ways how the European Union influences our daily life. The Parlamentarium shows the mosaic of actions and initiatives taken at European level. Not each stone in the mosaic of European decisions may be spectacular, but taken together, one realises that the work of this Parliament is relevant for each and every person living in the European Union.

The second reason why I believe that this Visitors' Centre will reach out to so many citizens is that it makes the visitor personally and physically "experience" Europe. It shows you what it means to be right in the middle of a plenary debate, in the first row. You will have the chance to get to know your elected representatives and find out more about their work.

Our young visitors will even get the chance to try out for themselves the process by which laws are adopted, in a role-play game. As politicians for a day, they will defend their political positions, weigh-up information, debate, negotiate and feel the tension before the final vote. I am sure that this will be an experience that many of our young politicians will never forget and I hope it will ignite in them the passion for the European idea.

The third reason why I believe that this Visitors' Centre will be a success is that visitors can feel at home here: The Parlamentarium shows Europe and its people and celebrates the beauty of our countries. You will always find a place, a story or a person from somewhere near you in the Parlamentarium.

Last, but not least, the Visitors' Centre also speaks your language. In fact, it is the first exhibition centre worldwide that welcomes its visitors in 23 languages. The Parlamentarium reflects the richness and diversity of Europe as encapsulated in the Union's slogan: "United in diversity".

Ladies and gentlemen

This Visitors' centre is without doubt a tribute to our host municipalities and the Region of Brussels. Open seven days a week, the Parlamentarium will contribute to making the European Quarter even livelier both on weekends and outside office hours!

The Parlamentarium is a great opportunity for the Region of Brussels to raise its international profile even further as a top tourist destination for all those who want to experience Europe - "live".

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me end by thanking all those who have contributed to the making of the Parlamentarium and wishing it and all its visitors the best of success! And have an excellent visit! Together with the Minister President and Mayors, we now have the honour and privilege to cut the ribbon opening the centre to the public!

Thank you.

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