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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to fill the blank?

The Czech Presidency has unveiled a sculpture it commissioned to stand outside the Council building in Brussels. The installation piece is designed to represent cliches and stereotypes of member states in a welcome attempt to subvert the usual attempts at political correctness. Eg France is shown as the national map with the word "strike" draped over it, while Italy is shown by its football team. There is a blank space reserved for the UK, to represent its 'absence' from all things EU.

Others are more controversial, with Bulgaria represented by a large toilet, and Poland shown by priests raising in the rainbow flag in the same image of American soldiers planting the flag on Iwo Jima in WWII.

EU officials have been complaining that the piece have "does not seem to have been properly discussed in the appropriate forum." Tough luck - the Czechs are in charge now for six months. It hasn't been funded by taxpayers, so what's the problem?

Perhaps it's the fact that the installation dares to draw on national stereotypes, rather than a European theme.

After all, the Commission saw nothing wrong at all with its (taxpayer-funded) promotional film, posted on EU tube, called "Let's come together", which featured people having sex for three minutes. In fact, the EU Commissioner for Communication, Margot Wallstrom was very dismissive of complaints that it had caused offence. (For details of this and other EU communications projects click here to read Open Europe's report on EU propaganda.)

Controversy, it seems, is fine, as long as it is strictly EU-themed - not to mention carefully controlled.

In the spirit of the piece, we would like to invite suggestions for what Britain might have been represented with, should the blank space have been replaced? A gang of rowdy bingedrinkers, perhaps ??

Other suggestions encouraged...

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