EU HISTORY AND MONEY
In Brussels, just near the building of the European Parliament, there was a solemn ceremony of opening the House of European History. Its realization lasted for 10 years, and the very idea appeared in the mind of the chairperson of the EP at that time, the German MEP Hans-Gert Pottering. During the last decade I had a possibility to observe how that project was created and implemented. From the very beginning it raises controversies. They were focused on two key aspects: history and money. A lot of MEPs were questioning the purposefulness of building this museum in respect of enormous differences in interpretation of ‘European’ historic facts. Here is one example from a hundred years ago. The European Parliament was enacting an occasional resolution at that time, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war. However, the objective document does not mention when that war began. Our suggestion of adding a passage that the second world war began on the first of September 1939 met with objection, and even mockery. European MEPs stated that it was only a subjective vision of Poles, and, in fact, the world conflict had begun from the attack of the Japanese on Pearl Habour or the Nazis Germans on the USSR – that is, later. Facing the lack of an agreement on the date of the outbreak of the second world war, this issue was completely omitted. The acts of omission also began a cause of disputes in the program council of the House of European History.
A Polish MEP prof. Wojciech Roszkowski was fighting for maintaing reasonable proportions and historic objectivism. He had raised objections till the end. I think that politics prevailed, though. Walking in new museum halls, I accosted the main director of the House of European History and asked if there was something mentioning or an exhibit reminding the war of 1920, when Poland stopped the Bolsheviks and protected Europe from the wave of communism. The woman answered kindly in her mother tongue – German language that, unfortunately, not all threads could be presented. Only the main, the most important ones were kept. This one was omitted. And, generally speaking, it is not the museum of Europe history, but the common existence of the Europeans for many centuries. So, I looked at a museum tablet and the first introductory sentences about this common existence, and a writing (translated into 24 languages in earphones): ‘Europe has always been difficult to define. (…)
It was formed by other waves of migrants who brought in their languages, beliefs and culture’. Doesn’t it harmonize with the current policy and vision of Germany about, sorry, the European Union? Indeed, it is the union which pays, that is, not completely…..EU as an organization does not create its own income but only consumes fees paid by particular membership countries. An initiator of the museum project was the chief of the EP at that time, who suggested that the Parliament should assign its funds for its realization. I remember when in the beginning budget of each of twenty commission was reduced for the sake of a benefit for ‘Potttering child’, as it was a colloquial name of the House of European History. And, certainly, children need more money as long as they grow. It was not in any other way this time, either. The budget was growing and there was no end of building works. A few weeks ago, the European Parliament gave most votes for a report in which ‘it expressed its mourn because of other postponed dates of opening the House of European History, which was initially planned for March 2016’ (art 66), that is, over a year before.
Since then the date of opening had been postponed three times. the building work cost over 50 million euro, but concern of our Parliament, registered in the mentioned report, also resulted from ‘excessive costs of activity in relation to a number of visitors’. The EU MEPs noted that the annual cost of the activity of the House of European History would exceed 13 million euro considering envisaged 250 thousand visitors. What is peculiar, is that the European Parliament accepted more visitors during a year, because 326 thousand of them and it cost three times less (4.3 million euro). Therefore he expects that the European Commission will join financing the project. Indeed, similarly as the EU, it will not elaborate its own funds, but it shares them. But how to share them? I would like to suggest that the number of European historic threads, connected to a particular membership country of the Union, presented in the House of European History, should be dependent proportionally on the amount of a fee paid to the EU budget. But why don’t I dare to do it? Because having watched the exposition I am more convinced to believe that this idea has just been consumed.