Brussels and The European Union

Trip Start Jan 02, 2006
Trip End May 30, 2006

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Flag of Belgium  ,
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Greetings from Brussels!

Although I am writing this entry now from the friendly confines of my flat in London, I spent the better part of today in Brussels, Belgium, on a group visit to the European Commission and the Croatian Mission for the EU. It has been a rather grueling day, waking up at 3:30 for a 6 AM departure from London Waterloo station to Brussels via the Eurostar.

In our visit to the European Commission, I got a better understanding of the functioning of the commission and some of its objectives and strategic initiatives and policy tools. I also gained an appreciation of how business was conducted in the Commission. Apparently, in the actual decision and policy making bodies, knowledge of English, German, and French is not just recommended but required. And proceedings in debate are translated into all 20 official languages in the EU. The sheer communications challenges seem quite daunting.

After a rather mediocre lunch, we spent the better part of the afternoon listening to information from the Croatian mission to the EU, the group entrusted with engaging in and supporting negotiations with the EU for the entry of Croatia into the association. Apparently, Croatia is currently targeting an entry in 2009. It was interesting to actually hear from the lead negotiator, the ambassador from Croatia, and some of his senior support staff.

Brussels, as you might imagine in January, was quite cold, damp, and dreary. In fact, given London's reputation, I must say that it was far worse than any weather I have experienced thus far in London. As such, even the famous Grand Place lacked its typical appeal. However, I could imagine that during the spring the Grand Place must be quite beautiful.

Well I must go now and take care of some readings for tomorrow's class. This weekend's travel plans look like they will include Windsor Castle and Eton.

Happy Trails,

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