A Capitol Hill Crash Course
WASHINGTON, DC (May 3, 2012) - The Bertelsmann Foundation’s trans-Atlantic relations team has held its annual “Brussels 101” briefing for Congressional staffers. The session brought together European Union experts to discuss the basic competencies of EU institutions, their decision-making processes, policymaking procedures, and roles in shaping economic, foreign and security policy for the 27-member body.
Robert Whiteman, congressional and parliamentary liaison for the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, led the discussion by providing an overview of the bodies that comprise the EU and the intricacies of forging consensus and agreement among its member states.
Dr Dorothee Heisenberg, special adviser to the dean at the Johns Hopkins University, spoke about the ongoing euro crisis and the role of fiscal transfers within the EU. She noted the vivid contrast between the US, where fiscal transfers between rich and poor states are not controversial, and Europe, where continued financial support by core countries of peripheral nations has become a major issues in political campaigns.
Lastly, Chad Kreikemeier, defense and foreign-policy adviser to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (chair of the Europe subcommittee) brought up the importance of trans-Atlantic relations for the US’s economic well-being. He pointed out that decisions made in EU bodies can directly affect jobs in every US state. He also urged his Congressional colleagues to learn more about the EU and participate in programs, such as the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Congressional European Parliament Initiative (CEPI), that promote greater understanding and cooperation between Brussels and Washington, DC.
Bertelsmann Foundation Transatlantic Relations Director Tyson Barker moderated the discussion.
The “Brussels 101” briefing is supported by a Foundation grant from the EU. The corresponding “Washington 101” primer for European Parliament staff on the workings of the US capital is scheduled for 7 June in Brussels.