Last year, young people working with European affairs were holding their breaths to catch every new episode of The Eurobubble – a series of 2-3 minutes long episodes dealing with the very much under-represented life of the ‘eurocrats’ – working with or within the EU institutions & Co. The series tapped into a great well of potential stories, and got us thinking about what lies beneath the surface of the “Eurobubble”, in the not-so-obviously glamorous capital of Europe – Brussels. While most people outside the bubble will look at the European Union’s bureaucratic empire with critical eyes, dreading the mountain of paperwork, regulations and so on, behind the scenes you will find the potential for more than just work.
Brussels, more than any other European city, brings together an impressive array of young, smart and attractive people, in a very small social circle. If you include all EU employees, approx. 30,000 people, and double that by adding all the people involved in orbital institutions like NGOs, consultancies, lobbying departments and law firms, the result is the most diverse and concentrated bubble of European delights! Whether you like it or not, you’re bound to run into the same kinds of people around every corner.
And while we are all very tired of political promises and corruption scandals, we seem to have forgotten a very important issue – power is sexy.
In the spirit of rediscovering the attractive side of the EU, E&M has discovered 5 types of European delights you can find on the streets of rainy Brussels, in Place Lux on Thursday nights, Café Belga, or Park Cinquaintanaire on a rare sunny day:
The Overconfident Suit
Aged 25-35 on average, the single, sexy, attractive men running around the streets of Brussels in suits, with a carefully groomed beard and sleek tie, are certainly eye candy for many people. They work for a lobbying department, the Commission’s Budget Directorate or the European External Action Service, go to the gym at least 3 days a week, and spread their wings amongst like-minded individuals. They talk about crisis in Crimea, their new bike or last weekend’s trip to France. Smart and fun, they would be almost irresistable if it wasn’t for the flexing of the arrogant muscle once in a while. But hey, some of us dig that too!
The high-heeled, skirt and jacket sexy professional ladies of the bubble are no less of a site on the streets. Whether they work in the NATO office, the European Parliament or Amnesty International, these women are not to be messed with – they know what they want and will work hard to get it. They most likely have an extra pair of comfortable shoes permanently stashed away at the office: looks are important but let’s not torture ourselves all the time. Sipping a glass of great French wine, you’ll run into the women at networking events, or international film festivals and will talk about last week’s EU-China summit or the upcoming marathon. Don’t make too many assumptions as you’re bound to be surprised!
The Lost Philosopher
Amongst all the suits you’ll run occasionally also run into someone in jeans and a raggedy t-shirt, chatting up some people in your office cantine or the Italian restaurant you love. Man or woman, they are hanging out with friends, not really following the daily news, but always wondering about the depressing effects of the grey Brussels sky on its citizens. He or she goes to the parties with his co-workers but complains about the music, will rather have a nice beer in a café and discuss the new societal model we need to put in place before our world collapses in on itself.
If you’re looking for someone to change the world with, we’ve got the perfect place for you! Brussels offers the highest concentration of idealism per capita, so no matter what your ideal world is, you’ll find someone with whom to dream about it! Hard to spot from the outside, the idealist can be wearing anything from a jogging outfit to a long dress – the only way to know for sure is to spot the special sparkles in their eyes, unblemished by the cynical side of politics. How long they’ll manage to keep it, only time will tell.
The Money Maker
Don’t be fooled by all the talk of NGOs and EU institutions – there are fortunes to be made in Brussels! Especially outside of the official circle, where consultancies and lobby groups rack up the highest incomes. Outside of personal work motivation, the income makes a difference when choosing your next job. And did you ever hear anyone say money wasn’t attractive? The great thing in the Eurobubble is that it’s never just about the money. But it always helps if you want to go skiing in the Alps every other weekend in the winter, or run away to the sunny Spanish beaches once in a while. You’ll be sure to find a touch of luxury in Brussels and if you’re the type who likes to throw money out the window, there’s plenty of people here to throw it around with! It also helps that Brussels is not a cheap city to live in at all.
Lost in between the well established eurocrats and recently-arrived trainees of the EU institutions, you’ll very often run into someone who doesn’t really fit the picture. You’ll recognize them mostly by the fact that they can talk about more than the latest EU legislation or their last week at the office, they have a certain je ne sais quoi about them and a different outlook on life. No beleageured look in their eyes – these passer-bys are in town for a few days to get sweeped off their feet by the beauty of listenting to 5 different languages at the dinner table. They are almost like ‘exotic fruits’ who, despite being mostly European, offer an inside-the-city escape from everyday life. And who doesn’t want escape sometimes? Keep an eye out, they’re easy to spot: just start using the acronyms you’ve grown so accustomed too, and if you are met with a baffled look, you’ve found one!
Most young Europeans who end up in the Eurobubble are however a fleeting species – you never know how long they’re going to stick around. Intelligent, ambitious and courageous, they are always ready for the new adventure, that may take them to a new job, or a new continent. So be sure to enjoy it while it lasts!