On Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 November 2012, the Brussels New Generation (BNG) organised its 2nd Annual Visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
There is no formal ‘guide to Strasbourg’ and going for the first time can be daunting. This visit prepared young professionals for visits to Strasbourg, helped them to develop the knowledge, skills and contacts necessary for their careers in the EU Affairs environment.
On Monday evening the BNG group gathered together near the cathedral in the city centre of Strasbourg for the welcome dinner. At the dinner we welcomed Emma McClarkin MEP. Ms McClarkin was elected in the European Parliament in 2009 for the British Conservative Party, making her, at the age of 30, the youngest British MEP. Emma has seen Brussels from many different perspectives. She worked as a Press officer, MEP advisor and RFU government relations advisor. Emma talked about her experiences and her life as an MEP. She advised the young professionals on how to approach MEPs and how to find their way in Brussels.
On Tuesday morning, the group headed towards the European Parliament for a series of sessions. The group first met James Holtum who is the press officer of the ECR group in the EP. He explained to the delegation what makes the headlines in Strasbourg, what attracts the attention of press and what doesn’t.
During the ‘Best Practices & Ethics’ session, the group met Sajjad Karim MEP. Mr Karim is member of the advisory committee on the Code of Conduct for MEPs. He explained us the rationale behind then advisory committee, the progress that has been made and what effect it has had on the European Parliament.
The third session of the day was centred on 3 MEP assistants. The delegation had the chance to meet MEP assistants from Othmar Karas MEP, Andres Schwab MEP and Olle Schmidt. They spoke about what are the tips and tricks to approaching MEPs, they explained the differences between a Strasbourg week and a committee week in Brussels. We also heard how the MEPs balance their different commitments and what a typical day looks like for an MEP.
After the three morning sessions, we did a tour of the European Parliament and we visited the hemicycle.
Over lunch the BNG group met Philipp Schulmeister who is the advisor in the Cabinet of the Secretary General of the European Parliament. He provided the delegation with a unique insight into the activities of the Secretary General of the European Parliament and he presented the prospective work carried out by the secretariat.
After the lunch the BNG’ers headed back to Brussels with a much better understanding of how the Parliament’s monthly trip to Strasbourg works, how to work with MEPs and assistants and how to operate effectively as an interest representative.
To see the pictures of the visit click here: http://www.britcham.be/BNGVisittoStrasbourg2012/tabid/434/Default.aspx