CEPI Fellows Talk Trade in Europe

BRUSSELS/BERLIN (October 21, 2015) – The Bertelsmann Foundation hosted its Congressional European Parliamentary Initiative (CEPI) in Europe during the week of October 12. Now in its sixth year, the 2015 CEPI program was made possible, in part, with support from the German Embassy in Washington. Staffers from the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament and the German Bundestag traveled to Brussels and Berlin for professional and cultural exchange around the theme of international trade, and spoke with over 30 stakeholders from the public and private sectors and civil society.

The program began in Brussels with meetings at the European Commission, where CEPI fellows learned about the European Union’s trade priorities, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström’s new trade and investment strategy, and negotiations in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and other trade agreements. The fellows also met with private sector and civil society stakeholders to discuss how a comprehensive TTIP agreement might affect businesses, workers and consumers. They joined David McAllister, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) and chair of the Delegation for Relations with the United States, for a discussion hosted by the Transatlantic Policy Network. The fellows spent the following day at the European Parliament, beginning with a briefing on the institution from the European Parliament Research Service. They attended a private networking reception with administrators of the European Parliament’s Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue and spoke with MEP Bernd Lange, chair of the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament to discuss the institution’s role in shaping and approving trade agreements. The fellows also met with the Economic and Political Minister-Counselors of the U.S. Mission to the European Union for a discussion on U.S.-EU economic, political and security relations.

The Berlin component of the CEPI program is new this year, thanks to the Bertelsmann Foundation’s partnership with the German Embassy in Washington. On Thursday, the CEPI fellows spoke in private meetings with members of the Bundestag and with a foreign trade official at the Federal Chancellery. The fellows also discussed U.S.-German relations and German politics in meetings with WirtschaftsWoche Berlin Bureau Chief Gregor Peter Schmitz, Dr. Christina Krause of the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, and senior economic and political officers from the U.S. Embassy. On the final day, the CEPI fellows heard a range of perspectives from international trade stakeholders. In the morning, they met with senior officials of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Foreign Office. The fellows then attended a lunch discussion on German business interests in TTIP, with speakers from the Federation of German Industry (BDI), the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), 3M, Die Familienunternehmer, Bayer and IBM. The group also met with representatives from groups with concerns about the TTIP agreement, including the Forum on Environment and Development and the League of German Cities and Local Governments.

Bertelsmann Foundation Executive Director Annette Heuser joined Transatlantic Relations Director Anthony Silberfeld and Transatlantic Relations Project Manager Michael McKeon in hosting the CEPI fellows in Europe, with Hendrik Barkeling, Head of the Economic and Commercial Unit at the German Embassy in Washington.

Samia Yakub is the Director of Communications at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC