CEPI Launches Its Fifth Year of Fellowships

WASHINGTON, DC (May 31, 2014) – Twenty staffers from the US Congress and the European Parliament completed their first weeklong series of seminars designed to forge closer links on high-priority issues between the two legislative bodies. The staffers formed the fifth class of fellows of the Congressional European Parliament Initiative (CEPI), which tackles issues in the legislative cycles of both institutions that can have extraterritorial impact.

The CEPI focuses annually on two issues that are high on the trans-Atlantic agenda. Each class of fellows comprises staffers with expertise in one of these two focal areas and who are close to the decision-making process. This year’s issues are e-governance regulation and trade policy.

The seminars, held in Washington, DC on May 27-31, began with an opening reception with Ellen Tauscher, strategic advisor at Baker Donelson and former under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. Tauscher is also a former congresswoman from California. The reception was followed by a discussion of the NSA affair and its impact on trans-Atlantic relations with Holger Stark of Der Spiegel. Stark is also a best-selling and award-winning author, most recently of Der NSA Komplex: Edward Snowden under der Weg in die totale Überwachung (The NSA Complex: Edward Snowden and the Way Towards Total Surveillance).

Over the course of the week, the e-governance fellows met with leaders from the US Department of Homeland Security, business organizations, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the House and Senate Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. Trade-policy fellows met with officials from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the US Chamber of Commerce, and House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over trade.

A congressional briefing on US and EU e-governance regulations was held in conjunction with the conference and included panelists Alexander Klimburg, fellow and senior advisor at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs; Jim Lewis, senior fellow and director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); and Rebecca MacKinnon, senior research fellow at the New America Foundation. The discussion centered on the differences in American and European approaches to e-governance regulation and recent allegations of NSA spying and data collections.

The group will meet again in Brussels in early September for in-depth briefings on relevant European policy and legislative action.