First Class of CEPI Fellows Reconvenes: This Time in Brussels
The Bertelsmann Stiftung Brussels Office, in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Foundation, hosted the first annual Brussels gathering of the Congressional European Parliament Initiative (CEPI). The twenty CEPI fellows, who are financial-services or energy/climate-change experts and work as staffers in one of the two legislatures, convened in the European capital for four days of intense meetings, workshops and discussions around issues affecting their current work.
The energy/climate-change staffers met with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Jo Leinen (Germany, Socialists & Democrats), chair of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament, and Reinhard Bütikofer (Germany, Greens); officials from the cabinets of Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger; and numerous representatives from NGOs and the European business community.
The financial-services staffers met with MEPs Pervenche Berès (France, Socialists & Democrats), chairwoman of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, and Peter Skinner (UK, Socialists & Democrats). The group also met with financial-services policymakers from the Internal Market Directorate-General, members of the cabinet of Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, and senior representatives from the European Banking Federation, the Centre of European Policy Studies (CEPS) and Re-Define, a non-partisan think tank that works to reform the financial system.
The two groups of staffers came together for broader discussions on the future of US-EU relations and the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on the EU’s global role. During the course of the weeklong CEPI program, the fellows were hosted by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, US Ambassador to the EU William Kennard, and the head of the European Parliament’s US Delegation, MEP Elmar Brok.
The US Congressional staffers were also invited to participate in the political group meetings of European Parliament’s two largest parties, the European People’s Party and the Socialists and Democrats.
“This program shows that there’s still a lot of work to be done in US-EU relations,” said Thomas Fischer, executive director of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Brussels office, “and it cannot always be defined in terms of traditional foreign policy. In the current economic crisis, there are lessons that legislators can learn from each other to minimize the impact of the crisis on their voters. Their staffs are key to that learning.”
The same group of CEPI fellows convened in June in Washington, DC to discuss issues with representatives of Congress, the US administration and the American think-tank community.
The CEPI is an initiative supported by the European Commission.