THE EUROPEAN DISTRICT IN BRUSSELS

The European district in Brussels is a former residential area but historical houses have been destroyed and replaced by glass-covered buildings since the member states chose Brussels as the primary seat of the European Institutions in 1997. Indeed, the city gathers in one district most of the European Institutions. It’s in this district that all the decisions about Europe are made by the politicians. Around the Schuman roundabout, the buildings shelter offices for politicians and assembly rooms for their meetings.
The Schuman roundabout and the Schuman Avenue are the heart of the European district in Brussels, but the district stretches around Leopold Park and Cinquantenaire Park (East of the Schuman roundabout)

We visited this area on our first day in Brussels, on a sunny Monday afternoon after our long trip from Dijon.
We met our guide at the Schuman roundabout and had a walk in the district.

First, we saw the Council of the European Union (which we mustn’t mix with the Council of Europe which is in Strasbourg) : this building is the one where the European summits take place. For every decision, ministers gather during the Council of ministers and then diplomats make decisions.
For the anecdote, the top floor of the building is a gastronomic restaurant : there are 28 cooks and each one of them represents one country of the European Union. The top chef changes every six months as the president of the Council.
On the opposite side of the roundabout, the Berlaymont building rises. The Berlaymont houses the headquarters of the European commission. The goal of the European Commission is to draft proposals for laws for the Union. The proposals are discussed and approved (or not) by the Council of Ministers and the European parliament. Then, the European Commission makes sure that the member states implement these policies.
This place used to be occupied by a elite school for girls only. The new building of the European Commission was completed in 1969 after five years of construction. Then, the building was renovated : the works lasted for 12 years and cost a lot to Belgium ; that’s why the building was nicknamed « Berlaymonster ».
Next to Leopold Park is the European Parliament whose goal is to accept or not the laws proposed by the Commission. Every five years, representatives of member states are elected by all the citizens of the European Union. The building is also called « Caprice des Dieux » because of its oval shape that alludes to the French cheese but also because of the huge cost of its construction.
In the district, infrastructures are being built in a European architecture style : one with wooden windows from different countries, it is a kind of patchwork on the building. Moreover, we noticed an old religious building with an old face art. but we learnt that inside, it is all new and in concrete (that cannot be seen from outside) : it is called façadism. The Museum of the European Union history which is in construction will also be in façadism style.
The European district also gathers embassies of the member states : for instance, we saw the ones of Netherlands, Austria … Moreover, around the institutions, the flags of all the member states are lined up in the alphabetic order in the language of the country and are flapping in the wind.
The European District 4

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