House Of European History Opens To Criticism

The much-delayed House of European History has been branded a waste of money after it finally opened in Brussels this week.

European Parliamen president Antonio Tajani performed the opening ceremony with one of his predecessors, former German deputy Hans-Gert Pottering, the man behind the project.

Despite claims that the museum in Brussels comes at a cost to the European taxpayer of over €45m, Tajani described its arrival as “good news for everyone.”

He said, “We need this museum in order to know our history. For my son, who was born 1983 and daughter who was born in 1989, it is difficult for them to know the past and our European heritage. That is why this museum is important because it tells us where we are from and where we want to go.”

“I hope it will become a place of debate. This museum can be therapeutic because it will be a place where citizens will be encouraged to help change things.”

He added, “The artefacts and their stories also allow us to reflect on who we are today.

“This is indeed not only the House of European History, it is also the Home of European identity.Some say there is no clear European identity.I say our common identity lies in our shared values.”

Speaking alongside Tajani, Pottering said the museum will constantly evolve and, as an example, he said there were already details on the museum’s tablet concerning Brexit and the EU Referendum in the UK.

He said, “History will change and this museum will change as we have to take into account what is happening in the world. But this is a real European project. When I mooted the idea back in February 2007 no one could predict that it would have happened and it would take this long.

“That is why I needed the support of many people,including past and present presidents of parliament. We had the support of Jerzy Buzek, Martin Schulz and, now, Antonio Tajani.”

The main subject of the museum is the 20th century, with the focus on the Holocaust and the two world wars, he said.

Pottering added that the EU was “in danger” adding “If we do not defend the EU it may have a very difficult future.

“This museum has a role to play and will tell visitors that the EU is based on values and legal order.The message to citizens is: You need to know your history to move into the future.”

UKIP were quick to respond, claiming that the museum will cost taxpayers over €40m.

UKIP MEP and member of the Budgetary Control Committee, Jonathan Arnott said, “Its main purpose is to promote a ‘common’ history of Europe and to stimulate debate around the integration purpose.

“In one way, I suppose the House of European History is a great metaphor for the EU itself: the public never asked for it, it’s cost far more than we were originally told, the money is being spent on self-serving propaganda, and British citizens are expected to pay for it even though it’s based in Brussels and does nothing for the UK.”

“The exhibition ends with a discussion of the EU’s future – well the writing is on the wall for it. It has no long term future as it has always been a flawed project which is institutionally incapable of reform.”

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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