Ever since the European Union was founded in 1993, it has experienced quite a few ups and downs. While it offers obvious benefits for citizens of its member countries – being able to live and work in other EU countries, for example – many people are still not fully convinced of the concept. In fact, the Eurobarometer, which aims to find out more about the public opinion on the European Union, recently reported that trust and public confidence have fallen to a record low in six of the biggest countries within the EU. All over Europe, the media as well as individuals have started discussing reasons for this development. Is it because of the lack of trust in politicians? Is it because of the low level of transparency regarding EU policies and laws? Or is it maybe because the whole concept of an European Union is simply too complex to grasp?
The Belgian Way
Enter three Belgian guys called Senne, Majd and Mathias who have thought of a possible solution for this problem. They believe that people from different countries in Europe simply don’t know a lot about each other, apart from the usual clichés. In their opinion, Europe has to find out more about its citizens in order to establish trust, friendship and a feeling of community. And that’s why they founded Hello Europe.
Dance-offs, speed dating, cooking classes – it’s all possible
The concept behind Hello Europe is to install large screens in central places in various European cities. This network of 6x2m-screens will then always connect two screens at a time for 30 minutes, making it possible to see what people in a completely different country are doing right now. What do people in Rome do on a Saturday night? What are Parisians wearing right now? Are people in Amsterdam really going everywhere by bike? And how exactly does the typical Londoner look like? When standing in front of the screen, people can also hear each other and would therefore even get a chance to have a conversation. The possibilities according to the team behind Hello Europe are endless: Dance-offs, speed dating, cooking courses – and all this while making new friends all over Europe.
Last month, those three Belgian guys were invited to present their idea at TedxNijmegen in the Netherlands – watch their talk below and support them on Facebook as they are still looking for a large sponsor to actually make it happen.
In a time where nationalism and xenophobia are seemingly on the rise in selected countries throughout Europe, this appears to be a refreshing idea which makes it possible for people to stop being afraid of things they don’t know. By showing them how citizens of other countries eat, work, talk, dance or simply live, Hello Europe hopes to eliminate feelings of suspicion, insecurity, fear and maybe even hate.