Saturday, 18 June 2011 06:32

Checking out Europe House

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As part of the Charlemagne Prize, yours truly received an invitation to meet the UK jury that had picked and sent us to Aachen for the final round. So, for a few hours, we decided to put on suits and leave behind the bohemian life of a E&M editor, to be introduced to members of the European Parliament.

To celebrate our Britishness, we decided to kickstart the day with a hearty breakfast at Regency Cafe, 17-19 Regency Street. Unlike what the name might suggest, the place is truly down to earth. Breakfast comes in the flavours of "Omelette & Chips", "Ham Bagel & Chips", and "Sausage, Beans, Tomatoes and Chips", you get the idea. And it is actually really yummy!

Photo: E&M
Egg Benedict: two soft grilled eggs on one English Muffin with Sauce Hollandaise

From there we headed off to Europe House at 32 Smith Square, where Michael Shackleton, the Head of the EP Office, was waiting for us already and gave us a little tour of the building. We didn't know that the Europe House is actually open to everyone, and that there are regular talks and debates advertised on the EP in UK website.

To put this into context: the building of Europe House used to be the headquarters of the UK's Conservative Party until 2004. Apparently, the refurbishment created quite some criticism, with the Telegraph expressing fears at the idea of "creating an EU propaganda headquarters in the heart of Westminster". If Europe House is indeed a propaganda headquarters, we'd have to say it is rather tame. Where were the EU spin doctors, the undercover agents infiltrating the last bastions of British culture, the huge machines printing millions of propaganda leaflets? But, well, they had just moved in.

After the short tour, we received a warm welcome from two MEPs who had been on the jury, Marina Yannakoudakis (Conservative) and Jean Lambert (Greens), and further jury member, Warren Lynch from Community Links. The MEPs told us that they were just as pleasantly surprised by the result as we were, and jokingly, that "no money changed hands". As a little extra, we received the very attractive, and yellow, "European Parliament" souvenir bags you see in the picture, including, notably, a EP ruler and an EP magnifying glass! Was this how the EU planned to win us over?! 

Photo: European Parliament (Press Service)
MEP Marina Yannakoudakis explains to us what she liked about E&M.

We were keen to learn what it was about E&M that had been so popular with jury; we know it's a great project, but it's always nice to hear it from someone else! MEP Jean Lambert, for instance, emphasised the training and learning opportunities E&M provides to young Europeans. They asked us about our backgrounds, how we govern E&M given that there is no editor-in-chief, and whether there was an age limit. We were happy to report that we "did not have to kick anybody out yet".

Our trip then finished with a photo shoot both inside and on the roof terrace, with a marvellous view of Westminster, and the promise to stay in touch. Overall it was an interesting morning checking out Europe House.

Photo: European Parliament (Press Service)
Matt, Laura, John (sitting) and Carmen (standing, far right) with MEPs Jean Lambert and Marina Yannakoudakis and further jury member Warren Lynch from Community Links - The Hudson's Project Newham

For more information, please visit:

E&M Press release on the Charlemagne Youth Prize

European Parliament Press Release on our visit. 

MEP Jean Lambert press release on our visit.

Last modified on Monday, 25 July 2011 23:10

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