Amateur Radio Exhibition Reflects Unity in Europe: European Radio Societies Exhibit in European Parliament
All this week, representatives from various European Amateur Radio societies have come to the Espace Léopold -- the European Parliament building located in Brussels, Belgium -- to provide information about the Amateur Radio Service to members of the European Parliament. Using the motto European Amateur Radio Benefiting Society, the event is sponsored by the IARU Region 1 EUROCOM Working Group and European Parliament Member (MEP) Birgit Sippel, who supports the goals and the socio-political importance of Amateur Radio and hopes that this exhibition will offer the possibility for her colleagues to become informed about the Service: “I am very much looking forward to sharing information on this Amateur Radio Service with my colleagues, their assistants and anyone else who is interested.” The European Parliament is the legislative body of the European Union (EU).
“Even though the Amateur Radio Service has been around since 1908, and many countries even have special laws to regulate it, the Service is often unknown in public,” said EUROCOM Working Group Chairman Thilo Kootz, DL9KCE. “Many politicians have never heard about the Amateur Radio Service, making this a very good starting point for the exhibition. In the European Union alone, about 350,000 people of all ages are fascinated by this hobby. They operate their radios and socialize with others throughout the world, all while generating a large amount of international goodwill in the process. This combination of communication, technology and sports bonds them together and makes Amateur Radio unique.”
Through personal contacts and demonstrating practical examples, the exhibitors are illustrating the Amateur Radio Service and its structures and benefits for society. Young people who are interested in space exploration are drawn to Amateur Radio, as it allows them to actually communicate via satellites and even speak to the International Space Station (ISS). But according to Kootz, a contact to the other side of the globe with self-built equipment and limited antennas fascinates youngsters, as well: “These technology-loving youngsters are likely to become engineers or high tech specialists, benefiting the wealth and growth of the EU.”
Kootz said that the representatives will also show the MEPs how Amateur Radio helps in emergencies, using the recent earthquakes in Haiti and the 2006 tsunamis in the Indian Ocean as examples. “Amateur Radio operators were always the first to communicate to the outside world, as the telecom infrastructure was destroyed,” he said.
During the exhibition, 10 students from a school in Brussels will contact the ISS, which, according to Kootz, will be a highlight of the exhibition; models of the ISS and an Amateur Radio satellite will also be on display. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to test their Morse code skills, one to the easiest modes of shortwave operation in low signal conditions. The European directives that affect the Amateur Radio service will also be presented and discussed. “Future European legislation may affect the Service, making it necessary to inform visitors about the special needs that this fine hobby has,” Kootz said.