The Austrian Government announced that it would adopt a design created by think-tank, AMO, as a symbol of its European Union (EU) Presidency. AMO, the think-tank established by Rem Koolhaas, linked to the work of his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), is the designer of the official logo for the Austrian EU Presidency which begins January 2006.
The logo merges the flags of current EU member states into a single symbol, resulting in a series of vertical stripes resembling a coloured barcode. According to its creators the barcode "aims to portray Europe as the common effort of different nations, with each retaining its own unique cultural identity." Whereas the number of stars on the current EU flag is fixed, the barcode can be expanded when new members join the EU.
The barcode is part of a larger visual identity package that AMO is developing with the Austrian Government for its coming EU Presidency. In the pipeline is an exhibition about the History of Europe and the European Union, a conference on European identity and the production of a book that explains the European Union to school aged children.
The barcode was first created by AMO in 2001 as part of a brainstorm session on the role of Brussels as the capital of Europe, organized by the European commission and the Belgian Presidency. Initially the barcode represented a Europe of fifteen members. In 2004 the symbol was adapted to include the ten new members who joined that year.
The barcode has already featured in a number of prominent European newspapers, some touting it as the new European flag, to replace the current twelve gold stars. Since the time of its conception the barcode has served no official use as the logo of any commercial or political institution. The Austrian EU presidency of 1 January to 30 June 2006 marks its first official use.