Back from my first opening ceremony ever. I only got there just in time, so I was sat right at the back, but still… impressive stuff.
The entire Hallen were filled to capacity with what looked like all students and staff of the College, politicians, ambassadors and representatives of various governments.
Guests of honour, from left to right:
- Yves Roosen, acting Mayor of Bruges
- Paul Demaret, rector of the College
- Jean-Luc Dehaene, president of the administrative council of the College, former Belgian Prime Minister, Minister of State, MEP
- Paul Breyne, Governor of the Province of West-Flanders
- José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission
Not in the picture: Yves Leterme (Minister-President of the Flemish Government) who gave a speech at the unveiling of the foundation stone of the new Verversdijk buildings of the Bruges Campus.
[note to self: bring tripod to next indoor event]
Mr. Dehaene was the compère for the day, and he acquitted himself of the task in his usual gruff but very competent way. And I don’t think too many people noticed he broke protocol by actually formally opening the academic year before introducing Mr. Demaret instead of doing so after Mr. Barroso’s speech 🙂
The Rector’s speech combined a short “State of the College” and a somewhat more extensive overview of Montesquieu‘s life and work, including his taxonomy of république, monarchie and despotisme and obviously his views on the trias politica.
[note to self: get a seat closer to the action next time]
Mr. Barroso’s speech, his first official one as president of the European Commission (on his second oday in office), set out to give his views on a strong and fiercely independent Commission at the heart of the European institutions, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what the press and the analysts make of it.
European anthem, signing of Golden Book, reception, I was introduced to more people than I’ve seen in the entire previous year and it’s going to take me ages to remember all the names, but all in all: a splendid time was had by all.
[note to self: do not, repeat not, let go of glass next time]