di Pierre Vander Auwera
Every day in Europe, people cycle to work or to school. What doesn’t happen so often though, is to wake up one morning and cycle all the way from Rome to Brussels. On 19 June this year, one woman from Emilia-Romagna, Lucia Bruni, did just that. Why? To show her love for Europe and its territories, and to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Upon her arrival on 5 July, CEMR had the opportunity to interview this brave European cyclist. Here is an abridged version of our discussion:
1. What inspired you to start this journey?
It all started with the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaty. At this point I thought it was important to commemorate this treaty. A treaty that led the founding states to build this community and to follow a vision that was, at the beginning, shared by many people. The reason why it was necessary to create this political union was evident.
Now I see that there are difficulties in this project. I have read books and articles about problems of EU legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens and I think that what is missing is passion, an element of emotional participation to this project. I therefore decided to give my contribution to this project to unite people, countries, communities and territories, by the way that I like, which is by bike. That is the reason why I decided to do this project.
2. Your journey is guided by a motto. Can you explain it to us?
Yes, it was “my heart for EU heart”, meaning that the heart is the motor of the bike, and also the source of emotions, passion, and motivation. This means that I put my heart at the service of the heart of Europe. Europe needs to achieve a bigger heart, more compassionate, more open to differences, to other problems of the world, for social justice, for peace, and for the environment. I want to contribute to this kind of heart.
3. What was your most interesting encounter during this journey?
There were quite a lot of interesting encounters. Maybe the most interesting one was with a judge at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. There I met a judge and his staff, some young women working with him, who told me that they are really working with ideas to change the world, to contribute to a better world.
People often perceive the European institutions as remote from real life, but meeting them allows me to testify that there are people working there with ideas to better the life of European citizens.
4. Did you come across a European town or region that you particularly liked?
Yes, I loved the Alps of course, but also the regions between Germany and France, the valley of Sarre, that for decades had been the reason for conflict between France and Germany for the mines and industry, which then became a model of international cooperation.
5. What is your main takeaway from your journey?
I saw that people across all of these countries are quite all the same. I have heard different languages but seen similar people. People who live, work, take care of their family, their home, their garden, their animals, their children, their bike… I have seen there is no reason to see enemies in different people, because we are all the same with the same aspirations and needs. My intention was to say the common goods, such as the environment or peace, need to be protected in a common way.
6. How many times did you fall and how often did your tyre burst?
I fell twice. Once I got hurt a bit because I wasn’t looking, I was looking at my navigation system and I forgot to unclip from the pedal. Nothing serious though! I moved on to reach my journey’s destination.