Friday, May 09, 2008

Happy Europe Day!

Did you know that Jewish music was a force for integration in Europe? Well, they're having an "international conference" on it in Germany today, one of the many throbbingly exciting events set up to celebrate the 22nd Europe Day.

In Greece, they're having an open air concert at Syntagma Square "anchored around climate change and the environment", featuring international and Greek singers and musicians. Spain is launching a "Madrid in Dance" festival, in Malta, secondary school students will take classes in the cuisines of different European and non-European countries and, in Poland, they're actually having a Europe Day "street parade" in Warsaw.

If you want to find out what is happening in the United Kingdom, the EU commission happily informs us that, "There is a wealth of information online to help you make the most of what is on offer in your country."

To get this "wealth of information", you are directed to the European Commission offices. Go there and you get an interactive map, so you pick the UK and you get the European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom website.

And where are these "exciting events"? Er … no mention. Nada … not even a reference to Europe Day.

If you are desperate, you could try the link to the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, and that gives you a link to Europe Day.

That sends you to the agenda for the year. That promises you, "A wide-reaching and eye-catching schedule … including events proposed by the media and civil society as well as those that form the National Strategies of Member States."

To get to these, all you need to do is click on the link for member state events and, hey presto! You get a list of 129 events.

From this, you will find you can have, "Zur Eröffnung der Veranstaltungsreihe des grenzüberschreitenden Kulturparks findet ein Festakt mit Ansprachen von hochrangigen Vertretern …" in Bliesbruck-Reinheim, Germany. You can even have, "L'Europa alla lavagna" (L'Europe au tableau) est un concours destiné aux élèves des lycées organisé tous les ans depuis 2005..." in Rome, Italy. Don't ask me why it is in French.

If those are just too tedious, you can go to Vilnius in Lithuania, where, "A floating boat made of used plastic bottles will set off for journey in Vilnius towards Baltic Sea...", or you can content yourself with "Ung og nydansk – et liv i et spændingsfelt" in København Denmark.

After five pages of this, with each page loading with the speed of a snail on crutches, success! We have a "wide-reaching and eye-catching schedule" for the United Kingdom. This is: "Managing Diversity and Respecting our Differences: Modern Challenges for Ireland and Canada - A one day conference to bring together major Canadian and Irish theorists, pracitioners (sic), academics and policy makers to discuss matters of...".

You will doubtless be pleased to know that this is set in Jordanstown – which just happens to be in Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland. The only trouble is that it is not being held until 25 May. But, if you are still keen to go, the details are here. And that, for the UK, is all you get.

Despite that, EU commission vice-president Margot Wallström is telling us: "Europe Day is an occasion for the EU Institutions to show their human face and for people to see that Europe is about people, and not just institutions or legislation."

Somehow, I am not quite convinced.


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