Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Brussels Schedule

The exchange trip ended in Brussels, where all the fellows reconvened March 28 to April 1, 2007. This was our schedule:

Wednesday, March 28
Arrive in Brussels from the Eastern European cities of Bucharest, Romania; Krakow and Warsaw Poland; or Belgrade, Serbia.
Taxi to Hotel Leopold and check in.
5:30pm -- meet GMF-Brussels staff in hotel bar
6pm -- introduction to Brussels program
7:30pm -- Welcome dinner with GMF-Brussels staff, with keynote speaker Ronald Asmus, executive director, GMF-Brussels.

Thursday, March 29
7:30am -- meet in hotel lobby and wall to European Parliament
8 to 9am -- Introduction to the European Parliament: the Challenge of Communicating Europe to Citizens working breakfast with members of European Parliament. The European Parliament is the only supranational institution whose members are democratically elected by direct universal sufferage. There are 785 members, elected every 5 years in 27 member states, who are involved in drafting numerous laws (directives, regulations, etc.) that affect the daily life of every citizen.
9:15 am -- visit EU Information Shop
9:30 am -- Walk to GMF office
10:30am to 12pm -- The Council of the European Union: Organization and Policy Agenda on TransAtlantic Relations of the EU Intergovernmental Body. The Council of the European Union in the institution that represents the 27 member states within the Union's decision-making structure. Holding a dual role, the Council acts as a supranational body when dealing with community issues and as an intergovernmental institution when foreign policy, security and justice, and home affairs are being discussed. This duality reflects the political nature of the Council of Ministersl and contrasts with the European Commission which acts as an impartial body.
1pm to 2:30 -- lunch meeting on Lobbying the EU: a Regional Approach. The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the political assembly that provides local and regional authorites with a voice at the heart of the European Union, like the House of Representatives in the US Congress.
2:45pm to 3:30pm -- I had an individual appointment with Mary Collins of the European Women's Lobby (EWL). EWL is the largest umbrella organizations of women's associations in the EU. The EWL Secretariat is based in Brussels, but EWL has member organizations in 25 member states of the EU. The EWL focuses on promoting women's rights and equality between the genders in the EU. They have activities regarding women's economic and social position, women in decision-making, ending violence against women, women's diversity, etc. EWL works mainly with the institutions of the EU: The European Parliament, the European Commission, and the EU Council of Ministers.

Some fellows had home visits for dinner and the rest of the evening. I did not and went with the other fellows to dinner at a local restaurant that served mussels and (french) fries, apparently, a very Belgian cuisine. For my dinner entree, I had another local delicacy, filet of horse.

Friday March 30
8:30am -- meeting GMF staff in hotel lobby
8:45am -- depart by bus to NATO (North American Treaty Organization) headquarters.
9:30am -- arrival at NATO, where all cameras, Blackberrys, and other electronics with memory sticks, were checked in at the security gate.
10 to 11am -- Welcome briefing by Ambassador Victoria Nuland, Permanent Representative of the United States to NATO. Ambassador Nuland was very articulate and the only woman who is a permanent representative.
11:15 to 12pm -- Briefing of NATO operations
12 to 12:45pm -- Briefing on NATO's fight against terrorism
1pm -- lunch in the NATO restaurant hosted by the US Information Office.
2:30pm -- depart NATO headquarters for GMF office
3:15 to 4:15pm -- Enlargement and Neighborhood: the Turkish Dilemma. Enlargement is one of the EU's most powerful policy tools. Joining the EU requires significant internal political, economic, and operational changes to qualify.
late afternoon -- some fellows had individual meetings. I did not.
8pm -- Shyam Reddy, Atlanta attorney, and I had a dinner in the home of Mr. Luca di Preso, European Parliament and an European Marshall fellow in 2002.
Those who did not have host dinners schedules had the option of viewing the documentary "The Arab World Seen Through European Eyes" with Olaf Deussen, one of the producers.

Saturday, March 31
Free time until evening
5 to 6:30pm -- Wrap-up session with GMF staff
7pm -- farewell dinner with GMF staff and local European Marshall Memorial Fund fellows.

Sunday, April 1
Return to US.

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