It’s Europe Day at the World Expo in China’s business capital Shanghai.
For the first time at a World Fair outside of EU borders, the European Union has its own pavilion through which to project its image to the rest of the world.
Euronews’ Monica Pinna is there to see it. She told us:
“It is a record-breaking Expo: it’s the biggest covering more than five square kilometres; it’s the most expensive with more than 43 billion euros spent on it, so around twice the cost of the Beijing Olympics. It’s also a huge commercial showcase with major political significance. Europe had to be part of it.”
The Vice President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, attended a ceremony to mark the the EU’s presence. It comes on the 60th anniversary of the declaration of then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman that European countries needed to cooperate more closely, one of the first bricks in the construction of what is now the EU.
The bloc’s ambassador to China says that Europe is bringing a message of friendship to Shanghai. We pressed him on how the EU can help China improve its human rights record.
“It’s not a question of giving up on our principles and values. We are affirming them, putting them on show. We cannot impose them of course but we are in strict but friendly dialogue with China over human rights. We need China so our dialogue is carried out with both parties on an equal footing with the goal of bringing ourselves closer.”
Each national pavilion showcases ways in which innovation and technology can build a “better city, better life,” the global theme of the Expo.
The EU’s stall features a giant brain cell, meant to evoke the development and enrichment of culture. Viviane Reding explains:
“Down there you can see the neuron, the brain cell which becomes stronger the more links there are. And that is Europe. It’s a Europe which is not a fortress but it is Europe which is opening itself up to other intelligent forces to become more intelligent itslef. And that is why we are here. We are a continent of intelligence and of countries which ally themselves to others.”
The Europe Day celebrations closed with a performance of the European Union Youth Orchestra, an example of what can happen when individuals from across the continent do play from the same songsheet.