For those living, working and jogging in the realm of European public affairs, it is well known how Eurobubblers basically create their own dimension and try to differentiate themselves from the outer world (the actual Bruxellois). Everyone here in BXL is super qualified with Masters Degrees or PhDs, everyone speaks 5-6 languages (apart from the Brits and the French) and everyone has a fairly similar background around politics, economics and law etc…The profile that Lisa displays in one the episode of the Eurobubble actually sums it up quite nicely: ” Half German, half French. Born in Indonesia. Politics at Sciences Po, LSE Master, internship at the European Commission and 1 year in Bruges”
Brussels is a place where people don’t go to to live. People go to Brussels to work. People from all over Europe, and the rest of the world, would move to London, Paris, Barcelona or Rome because these are awesome places to be in and expats in this cities would do whatever job in order to stay there.
Brussels is exactly the opposite. People, especially young people, don’t move to the Belgian capital because they are in love with Art Nouveau and mussels with fries. They move to Brussels because of work and almost always their work is related to European affairs. You go out for a beer and end up talking about the euro crisis. You go for a jog in the park and meet policy-makers talking about treaty reforms. You go play football in Parc du Cinquentanaire and you meet EC stagiares. See what happens for instance when you go to Place du Luxembourg
But how do the Bruxellois perceive this? Is Brussels’ autoctonous population affected by the bubble?
It all got clear to me a few days ago. It was a EU Council day and as we all know that means that rond point Schuman is closed, there’s police everywhere and hundreds of journalists show off their badges on their way in. On the way from Rue Archimede to Rue de la Loi, I met a buddy from the gym who works for STIB (apparently all those going to my dodgy, 30€-per-month/garage/gym work either for Brussels public transports or in the security business) and I ask him “Ca va mec? Qu’est qui se passe là? He replies with the most poetic and enlightening sentence of all. The set of words that expresses in a nutshell what all the EU hustle and bustle means for the real Bruxellois “J’sais pas. Il y a un truc européen” which can be translated into “There’s a European thingy going on”.
The truc européen includes all events that would amaze typical Eurobubblers like to approval of the new EU budget or the proposal for a directive, which doesn’t really affect the mood of “normal people.” Anything with the EC/EU labels all goes in to this big pot in the imagination of these aliens that we call Bruxellois.
I think though that the let’s-build-a-wall-around-us phase that Eurobubblers have been creating is bound to fade away. Getting to know locals and what locals think of us is very valuable in order not to get stuck in a limbo of no identity.
Wait, did you say euro-something? No, I said truc européen.