CEPI Washington Week

New CEPI Class Kicks Off in Washington

WASHINGTON, DC (September 10, 2015) – The Bertelsmann Foundation completed the first leg of its 2015 Congressional European Parliamentary Initiative (CEPI) from August 31 to September 5. Now in its sixth year, the CEPI program brings together fifteen staff members from the US Congress, the European Parliament and the German Bundestag for a series of seminars during a week in Washington and a week in Brussels and Berlin. The participation of Bundestag staff is a new feature this year, thanks to the generous support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The theme for this year’s CEPI program is international trade, a field of great importance and relevance to US-European relations. The CEPI fellows—diverse in national origin, political affiliation and professional experience—follow this issue closely and work for committees or legislators who are engaged in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and other aspects of the trans-Atlantic relationship, such as foreign relations, energy and the environment. CEPI fellows met with officials from the US Trade Representative, the US Small Business Administration, the US Department of State and the US Department of Commerce. They participated in private meetings with professional staff members from the Senate Committees on Commerce, Finance, and Foreign Relations, as well as the House Committees on Ways and Means, Financial Services, and Foreign Affairs. To gain a more complete understanding of Congress’ role in trade policy, they met with House of Representatives leadership and the Foreign Affairs and Trade team of the Congressional Research Service. Finally, the fellows heard diverse perspectives and priorities on trade in meetings with the American Farm Bureau Federation, Public Citizen, AFL-CIO and the US Chamber of Commerce. Throughout the week, CEPI fellows actively engaged speakers from the federal government, Congress, and nongovernmental organizations in candid, insightful and educational discussion and debate. They represented their institutions well and were a credit to the CEPI program and the Bertelsmann Foundation.

In addition to meetings on trade and trans-Atlantic relations, the CEPI fellows enjoyed a welcome dinner at the home of Dr. Philipp Ackermann, deputy chief of mission of the Federal Republic of Germany, dinner and discussion on US politics with N24 Washington Bureau Chief Stephan Strothe and a working lunch with German Marshall Fund President Karen Donfried.

The Bertelsmann Foundation team will reconvene with the CEPI fellows next month in Brussels and Berlin to complete the second leg of the 2015 program. That week will round out another successful year of an invaluable exchange of ideas and culture, and an important element of our work in trans-Atlantic relations.