Our candidacy

“ Antwerp is a city the size of New Haven that’s as design-obsessed as Tokyo, coffee-crazed as Milan, and global as New York. ”

– Michael Kaminer, New York Daily News –

The EUCO 2018 candidacy of Belgium

“What does a candidacy need in order to be successful? ”

That is what we asked ourselves when considering to explore the feasibility of an European Rotaract Conference in Belgium. Well, we think it needs three main components in order for it to have a chance of success:

The people – The City – The Story.

Let’s break it down.

The People

Rotaract Belgium united!

At first you should know that the idea of ‘Rotaract’ predates the initiative taken in the United States by 1968.
The first roots of ‘Rotaract’ developed in Belgium and Italy, back then it was known as ‘Paul Harris Circles’.
Young adults, children of Rotarians, who wanted to share the same ideals as their fathers.

The first Rotary club in Belgium was founded in 1923 in Brussels.
The fact that Rotaract has been known since then, explains the popularity of the movement in Belgium. Our country houses three districts; 1620, 2170 and 1630. The last connects Belgium and Luxembourg. Together our districts are over 52 clubs strong with an enthusiastic 1.235 members. Besides their local engagement – Belgian Rotaractors are known to be very active on a European level. A striking example is our presence during the EUCO 2017 in Warsaw with 103 Belgians present.

Everyone knows a Belgian…
On the 8th of April 2017 representatives of all Rotaract clubs in Belgium gathered in Antwerp to support the EUCO 2018 candidacy of the city of Antwerp.

The Host Organising Committee – an initiative by and staffed by members of the three Rotaract Districts – got the endorsement of all Rotaract clubs in Belgium.

The organisation is ready to receive the honor of hosting the 2018 edition of the European Rotaract Conference in Antwerp, Belgium.

The City

Let Antwerp amaze you!

Museums, shops, architecture: whatever is on your city-trip checklist, Antwerp can offer, including a zoo.
The Antwerp Zoo is one of Europe’s oldest and most attractive city zoos. And a beach: St Anneke, on the Left Bank.

Not only the beach is pretty unique for a city inland, the city also boasts a deep sea port 80 km inland. As you can see, Antwerp does everything that little bit differently.

Enjoy the heights
In the Antwerp skyline, the Cathedral of Our Lady takes pride of place: it is the highest church spire in the Lowlands and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Quite a feat for a building with just one finished spire. A little further up, MAS| Museum aan de Stroom stands out: in this Museum at the River, the most beautiful work of art may well be the view. From the 60-metre high roof top, you can admire the whole city.

Culture and gastronomy revisited
Beside the MAS, Antwerp offers many other special museums. In addition to their top collections, they all have that something extra: the Middelheim Museum is a park full of sculptures, in The Rubens House, you walk through a famous artist’s house and Plantin Moretus was the world’s first museum to feature on the World Heritage List.

And then there are the museum-grade buildings, where you can either shop or eat – as you do – like in the Neoclassical (shopping) Stadsfeestzaal that accommodates a shopping centre, a former chapel which houses star restaurant, and the Palace in Meir (once Napoleon’s) where you lunch or catapult cocoa up your nose when you order a chocolate shooter.

Cradle of diamond and fashion
People from Antwerp set the trend. This is evident from the many pop-ups and start-ups, and also in the fashion and diamond districts, of course. You will find more diamonds in the Diamond Square Mile – where international diamond hallmarks originate – than in the rest of the world. And peppered all over the city are dazzling shop windows full of attractive jewellery designs.
Antwerp sets the tone where fashion is concerned, too: couture is not just in the boutiques, but also on the streets, at the museum (MoMu) and at the college. The fashion department of the Royal Academy is one of the world’s most influential. Even today, great talents graduate from there, invariably starting their labels in the city.

XL range at an XS distance
Locals proudly refer to their city as cosmopolitan with a village atmosphere: you can find everything here, but always within walking, or at least cycling, distance (for which the Antwerp city bikes are available).

The city itself is also easy to reach. If you want a piece of advice: come by train. The majestic Antwerp Central railway station has won many beauty prizes … something that may dull the pain to some extent when the time comes to leave the city.

The Story

Coming home again!

Belgium, home to E.R.I.C.
In 1988, at the initiative of former Rotaractor and current Rotarian Jan Huygens, the first Multi District Information Organisation (M.D.I.O.) was founded in the heart of Europe, Brussels, Belgium. The European Rotaract Information Centre (E.R.I.C.) was the first of its kind and until today the largest M.D.I.O. in the world. Belgium, as a beacon of the European thought, played a key role during the first years or E.R.I.C.

In 2018 the EUCO party can returned to its country of origin Belgium to celebrate its thirty year anniversary as an European forum that connects over 20.000 Rotaractors.

Third time’s a charm!
Where was the first European Rotaract Conference held? … That’s right! In Antwerp! Back in March 1988 the city hosted 300 Rotaractors from 16 different countries. During this conference the first Country Representatives were appointed.

Later on, in 2006, Antwerp hosted the European Conference a second time. At the end of this five-day event a spectacular closing gala was organised with close to 1.500 attendees.

Let us bring back the EUCO to the place where it all started in 1988: Antwerp!

2018 – The year of Rotaract
Rotaract originally began in 1968 in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States, and has grown into a major Rotary-sponsored organization of over 9,522 clubs spread around the world and 291,006 members.

In 2018 Rotaract clubs worldwide will celebrate the fifty year anniversary of the Rotaract program, celebrating
their achievements and plan to take on new challenges. This celebration demands a strong and powerful message from our European Rotaract clubs – united we are strong in our beliefs and initiatives to overcome inequality.

The EUCO 2018 has to renew the commitment of E.R.I.C. and its member districts to face new and old challenges and to provide Europe with a safer, more tolerant and equal society.