A barcode which merges the flags of current EU member states into a new representative flag
In May 2001, following the treaty of Nice in which Brussels was appointed capital of the European Union, the president of the European Commission Romano Prodi and Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt invited AMO to join a group of intellectuals for a series of brainstorming sessions on the needs and functions of a European capital, and how these could be best expressed in Brussels.
AMO addressed Europe's presence in Brussels through the architecture of its institutions, but also went a step further, addressing Europe’s representation at large: its symbols, the visual language of its communiqués, its media presence... AMO found Europe’s representations to be mute, limp, anti modern and ineffective in an age dominated by mass media. They went on to suggest a direct relation between the absence of a visual language – Europe’s iconographic deficit – and a widespread ignorance about the activities and the origins of the EU among the general public.

As food for thought, AMO attempted to develop a visual language conveying Europe’s essential idea in a direct and powerful way. This operation resulted in a series of illustrations, or rather 'image-bites,' of which the barcode is one. The barcode elongates and merges the flags of current EU member states into a single colourful symbol. It intends to represent the essence of the European project, showing Europe as the common effort of different nation states, with each state retaining its own cultural identity while sharing the advantages of acting together.

Whereas the number of stars on the current EU flag is now fixed, the barcode can be expanded with new members joining the EU.

After 2003…
The barcode has been featured in a number of prominent European newspapers, mistakenly touting it as the new European flag to replace the current twelve gold stars. This, however, was certainly not the idea behind its conception. The barcode was merely a suggestion for an extra symbol, parallel to the existing EU symbols, to bring Europe in a new way to new audiences. The joining of ten new members to the EU in 2004 resulted in a first official 'update'of the barcode. The Austrian EU Presidency of 2006 marked the first official use of the barcode. AMO designed the visual identity for the Austrian EU Presidency that took place from January 2006 – July 2006. The design, which is based on the barcode, resulted in various 'barcoded' items ranging from coffee mugs to trains and was prominently used at various summit meetings.
A 'barcode' which merges the flags of current EU member states into a new representative flag

European Commission




BBC News, 8 May 2002
The Independent, 8 May 2002
New York Times, 23 May 2002

Architectural Digest, 10/2005
Copypeist, 12/12/2005
Salzburger Nachrichten, 2005/06
A+ #176, 01/02/2002
Cobouw #146, 27/04/2002
New York Times, 02/03/2002
NRC Handelsblad, 18/05/2002
The Sun, 09/05/2002
The Independent, 14/05/2002
Corriere della Sera, 09/05/2002
Het Parool, 08/05/2002
Den Haag Sculptuur 2002
Brave New Logo, 25/06/2002
The Independent, 08/05/2002
Daddy War Blogs, 05/05/2002
Kapingamarangi, 08/05/2002
Travelling Shoes, 08/05/2002
The Mirror, 09/05/2002
Hoosier Review, 05/05/2002
EU Observer, 08/05/2002
Le Soir, 23/04/2002
La Libre Belgique, 23/04/2002
The Independent, 05/2002
Ananova, 08/05/2002
Algemeen Dagblad, 24/04/2002
The Parliament Magazine, 20/05/2002
MoMA, 2005
Life Without Buildings, 01/03/2006
RW Reclameweek #18, 14/05/2006
Europäische Rundschau: the Sounds of Europe, 2006
032c, 05/2006
Architektur, 05/2006
NRC Handelsblad, 28/05/2005
Süddeutsche Zeitung, 03/06/2005
O.bjeto #16, 05/2005
A+U #417, 06/2005
Icon #29, 11/2005
Blueprint #236, 11/2005
Jaarboek Nederlandse Vormgeving 2005


Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf

Catarina Canas, Fernando Donis, Nicolas Firket, Roberto Otero, Markus Schaefer, Saskia Simon, Johan de Wachter

Austria-EU Presidency Barcode Update:
Irma Boom