This afternoon I accompanied EESC President Staffan Nilsson to the formal opening of the European Parliament’s Parlementarium. The exhibition was declared open by EP President Jerzy Buzek and Belgian Princess Astrid. The exhibition has its detractors, not least because it cost a lot and came in over budget and behind schedule. Ambitiously high-tech projects frequently encounter such teething problems. But those will be forgotten. The Parlementarium is a significant achievement, innovatory in a number of respects. Because it took so long for the member states to decide on the official seats of the EU’s institutions, the latter have never been able to build purpose-built visitors’ centres: we have all been making do, converting existing buildings and hauling in volunteers from among our members and staff to talk to visitors (I remember talking to European Commission visitors’ groups in the musty, fusty, obscure heart of the old Joyeuse Entrée building in the 1980s and feeling slightly embarrassed about the whole thing). Now the EU has a ‘proper’ visitors’ centre. By that I mean, first, that it keeps visitors’ hours, rather than the hours of EU institutions – notably, it is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Second, it is equipped properly to welcome visitors in all 23 official languages of the EU. Third, it has been consciously designed to welcome families and younger visitors (and those with physical handicaps). A lot of the exhibits are fun as well as being educational. Fourth, it is deliberately accessible, being free and the sort of place that will repay repeated visits. Until now the so-called ‘European quarter’ has not been tourist friendly. Most visitors to Brussels probably see it on a bus tour. But now tourists will have a reason to come and to stay. Once the Museum of European History has been completed in 2014 they will have two reasons.