On the day before Brexit will officially happen, British citizens gathered outside the European Parliament to, literally and symbolically, plant fresh roots for the future in the EU capital.
At 1:00 PM on Thursday 30 January, Pro Europa, the Brussels hub for United Kingdom grassroots networks campaigning for close(r) ties between the UK and the EU, organised a commemoration ceremony to mark Brexit on Place du Luxembourg.
The organisation presented a young, British oak tree as a symbol of the UK’s enduring bonds with its EU partners. “We present this oak tree as a symbol, that will yet flower and produce its fruit again,” said Sir Graham Watson, outgoing MEP and first leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) political group in the European Parliament.
“The heart of our Europe is oak. It is strong, it is honest, it is enduring. So we thought it fit to commemorate, symbolically and physically, the feelings that we have and the future that we will share.
“We are dedicating this tree today as a living symbol, and living proof of the roots that we will have here, with our friends, our neighbours, and our allies,” said a Pro Europa speaker.
The ceremony included music, including a Frenchman on the bagpipes (“to truly show how Europe has brought us all together”) and Oliver Gray, a Pro Europe member, playing the guitar and violin.
Several representatives from British citizen groups used the opportunity to thank all their members, both in the EU and the UK, for all their efforts over the past years.
“When we wake up on Monday morning, the challenges will still be the same. The challenge of climate change, of world population growth and migration, internationally organised crime. And we are to get on top of those challenges, we need structured international cooperation. The UK has chosen to pull out of that, and this conservative Brexit experiment will go ahead,” said Watson. “Let us see how long this mistake lasts,” he added.
The organisers of the event will speak to the Brussels mayor on Thursday afternoon, to discuss what will happen next. “And to hopefully find a permanent site for this beautiful oak, which has been brought here, fresh from English soil, just a few days ago,” they added.
The Brussels Times