The Brief: Fashion! Turn to the EU

Forget the tacky Union Jack t-shirts and American university hoodies. Soon you might be able to flaunt your European-ness with a line of new EU clothing.

It may sound out there but the idea has already a lot of interest as well as some unexpected fans from a country known for its deep mistrust of the EU.

Aside from an odd selection of gaudy plastic flags, mousepads and badly-fitting baseball caps offered by the tourist traps of Brussels city centre, you’d struggle to find anything actually wearable or exhibitable in public with an EU flag on it.

Other parts of the world seem to have nailed it but it really is a case of ‘they do it over there but we don’t do it here‘.

That’s set to change now that Belgian film director Senne Dehandschutter has taken it upon himself to set up a high-quality clothing line, after a wide search of the internet led him to conclude that the only items available were “uninspired and awful”.

If his kickstarter gets enough interest, the wide-range of clothing will go into production next year and we might soon see people of all ages across Europe sporting blue n’ yellow.

European identity and how best to show it has been a recurring question dating back to even before the EU. It’s something that countries like Italy have also struggled with and the continent’s greatest minds have grappled with the concept.

Something as simple as clothing that can be worn every day could provide at least one of the puzzle pieces that will eventually build the jigsaw of European-ness. Mass marches like those organised by Pulse of Europe in various cities could also help build the long-sought identity.

Last week, the WhyEurope student project was awarded a special prize for communication, to commemorate the group’s pro-European campaigning and Euro-mythbusting. The student representatives claimed the prize in person, sporting their own European football jerseys.

The EU Flag Fashion project has already surpassed its initial target by more than 250% but where the money for the kickstarter is coming from is perhaps one of the more surprising aspects. Donations have expectedly come from across Europe but Brits, those soon-to-be former EU citizens, seem to be embracing the idea wholeheartedly.

One could make the argument that it was the EU’s quest for a common identity that helped push the UK away. Any whiff of a European anthem or motto enshrined in law, or even sporting teams flying the EU flag have been vehemently rejected in the past.

Why is it so hard for people to accept the idea of having more than one identity? I suppose because I grew up on the Welsh side of the border with England, I have always been able to reconcile my Cymru-ness with my British side. Adding a bit of Europe into that mix was an easy ask.

Despite the interest in EU-branded fashion, it is probably too late for Great Britain’s citizens still on the island to get in on the push for European-ness.

Especially after the British government stressed that the country would withdraw from the EU even if its parliament rejects a final Brexit deal. Of course, that shouldn’t dissuade any Brits reading this from phoning their MP and telling them exactly what they think of Westminister’s plans…

So it’s up to the rest of us to help build Europe’s identity in our own little ways. Wear a hat. Hum some Beethoven.

The Roundup

Antimicrobial resistance kills 25,000 people in the EU every year but at the current rate, experts fear it will become a bigger killer than cancer by 2050. Irresponsible use of antibiotics on farms is a major cause or resistance which could end modern medicine as we know it.

MEPs will vote tomorrow on whether to activate Article 7 of the EU treaty in response to Poland’s violations of the rule of law. It would be the first time this “nuclear option” has been used.

The Paradise Papers exposed the rot at the heart of the global financial system but we should see them as an “opportunity” to crack down on tax evasion, Greek MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis told EURACTIV.com.

Universal basic income may not be the best way to reverse growing inequality after all, financial services guru Adair Turner told EURACTIV’s Jorge Valero. Find out why here.

EU foreign ministers have promised to dedicate more resources to fighting Russian interference in Europe, following revelations of propaganda attacks aimed at influencing elections and destabilising the bloc. Catalonia was identified as a fault line vulnerable to exploitation.

British MPs will be offered a “sham” take-it-or-leave-it vote on the final Brexit deal, but Denis MacShane wonders what the argument is for Britain to leave the EU, now that the bloc’s economy is back on track.

The Global South has called on the rich North to put its money where its mouth is at the COP23 in Bonn, as the $100bn in climate finance promised in Paris begins to emerge in dribs and drabs.

Faced with uninspiring national climate programmes, the mayors of 25 of the world’s major cities pledged to cut their cities’ carbon emissions to zero by 2050 in a bid to keep the Paris Agreement on track.

France will reverse its decline in development spending to reach its OECD target of 0.7% of GNI, but President Emmanuel Macron’s critics say his budget is €6.4bn short of where it needs to be.

Look out for…

The European Parliament will vote on whether to sanction Poland’s rule of law violations with Article 7 of the EU treaty, suspending Warsaw’s voting rights in the Council.

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