2011 CEPI Fellows Hit the Ground in Brussels
The Bertelsmann Foundation North America and the Bertelsmann Stiftung Brussels office brought together 20 US Congress and the European Parliament staffers for the first conference of the 2011 class of the Congressional European Parliament Initiative (CEPI). The gathering took place 18-22 June in Brussels.
The CEPI connects the largest legislative bodies in the US and Europe by tackling issues in the legislative cycles of both institutions that can have extraterritorial impact. This year’s topics were immigration and border governance, and energy and raw-materials policy. Staffers were selected based on their expertise in these fields and close proximity to the decision-making process.
The four-day conference kicked off with an opening dinner with Ambassador Pierre Vimont, secretary-general of the new European External Action Service (EEAS), and included sessions with US Ambassador to the EU William Kennard; Member of the European Parliament Sophie in ‘t Veld (NL-ALDE) and Anton Laguardia, author of The Economist’s Charlemagne column.
The energy/raw-materials group met with leaders from the Directorate- General for Enterprise, the head of Günther Oettinger’s cabinet at the Directorate-General for Energy, experts from Columbia University and Coreso, the European engineering company. The immigration/border-governance group met with senior officials from the Directorate-General for Home Affairs, the Directorate-General for Transportation, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the leading Council official on this issue, Gilles De Kerchove, as well as top officials from the US Mission to the EU.
“This group comes at a very sensitive time politically for the European Union, with the eurozone crisis and controversy over the future of Schengen. Now more than ever, it is important to foster these constructive links between the European Parliament and... the US Congress,” said Bertelsmann Stiftung Brussels office executive director Thomas Fischer.
The CEPI is supported by a grant from the European Commission. The same group of staffers will convene in Washington, DC in September for high- level meetings, workshops and seminars with leading experts and government officials.