A new visitor centre was opened this week by the two EU institutions representing the member states. The centre will welcome group visitors and individual visitors to the Council of the European Union and the European Council. The centre will focus on information about the role and functions of the two councils. Ministers from the member states meet at the Council of the European Union to discuss and adopt new laws. The European Council of heads of state and government sets the broad direction of EU policy.
“The new visitor centre will allow us to offer a better visitor experience and help us to increase the number of visitors,” said Paul Reiderman, director of media and communication at a press briefing on Wednesday (18 July).
He explained that until now the councils did not have any dedicated space to welcome visitors and there were problems in finding a meeting room for them.
Last year there were 28,000 visitors, either as part of a visitor group or during the annual open day. In addition, an estimated 16,000 visitors were received by the permanent representations of the EU member states.
For the first time, individual visitors will be able to access the centre and the Europa building with prior registration (5 working days in advance).
Entering from the Justus Lipsius building at Schuman Square and passing the atrium, visitors arrive at the new centre. The 500 square meters centre includes an interactive space and a conference room for visitor groups.
From the centre, visitors have access to the ground floor of the new Europa building, where they can admire a lantern-shaped structure, the only of its kind in the world, which has been adapted to the different sizes of the meeting rooms in the building.
Visitors can choose to listen to welcome videos featuring ambassadors from their home countries describing the daily work in the council. There are also media alcoves with varied audio-visual content on topical EU policy themes.
Asked by the Brussels Times if the Council also provide speakers, a media official replied that the conference room offers an opportunity to meet experts from different fields working at the Council.
The visitor centre aims at bringing citizens closer to EU and quotes the Rome Declaration from 1957: “European unity started as a dream of a few, it became the hope of the many.” It still is.