Bureaucracy in Brussels, strife in the Balkans and a disinterested constituency in most places in between -- that's reality in the EU. Now the bloc thinks a parallel existence in cyberspace might be preferable.
In Second Life, the EU would have the chance to make some new friends
The EU is boldly going where no non-constitutional alliance of nations has gone before -- into the depths of Second Life's "in world."
The bloc is considering setting up an office in the Internet-based parallel reality that's become this year's most hyped phenomenon. The platform is currently estimated to have 4.4 million members, who interact in the guise of alter egos, called avatars.
Gravity does not apply in the Second Life, an imaginary world built up by the members themselves and much of the activity there revolves around developing virtual real estate, having virtual sex and selling virtual goods and services for real money.
"It is certainly an idea we are looking into," EU Commission Spokesman Mikolaj Dowgielewicz told EUobserver.com, adding that a virtual office would be part of the Commission's effort to get closer to EU citizens.
New jobs for unemployed mascots?
Could this be the new face of Europe in the Internet's virtual worlds?
The 27-member EU isn't alone in thinking virtual reality might be the place to be. Sweden's foreign ministry already has a presence in Second Life, aimed at reaching young people and informing them about what life is like in, uh, Sweden.
Reuters news agency, too, has a correspondent underway in the Web 2.0 universe to report on the members' carnivalesque encounters.
The question remains what an EU avatar would look like. Would it be one of those tightly clad manga maidens with eyes to die for? Or one of the humanoid foxes, squirrels and chipmunks favored by other Second Life fans?
Germany, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, could take the initiative here. After all, the country still has hundreds of thousands of unsold examples of Goleo, the much-maligned mascot of the 2006 World Cup.
He's currently looking for work -- and already naked from the waist down.