Trans-Atlantic Exchange Marks Another Successful Year
WASHINGTON, DC (September 16, 2016) – The Bertelsmann Foundation completed the 2016 Congressional European Parliamentary Initiative (CEPI) with a week in Brussels and Berlin in September, following a week in June hosting 15 senior staff members of the U.S. Congress, European Parliament and German Bundestag in Washington for professional and cultural exchange on the topic of migration.The program, which began seven years ago, is supported in part by the German Embassy in Washington and is an important element of the Bertelsmann Foundation’s work in trans-Atlantic relations. Migration is a timely and relevant issues for economic, social, security and humanitarian concerns in the United States and European Union. Five staff members were selected from each legislative institution to take part in the CEPI program, based on their knowledge of and experience in migration, and their potential to contribute to policy. The 15 CEPI fellows represented diverse policy expertise, geographic origin and political affiliation. Through this unique exchange, they developed a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of this important policy area, which they will bring to their work in Washington, Brussels and Berlin.
The week began in Brussels with policy discussions with European and international organizations, diplomats, and Belgian authorities who work toward effective processing and integration of refugees and asylum seekers. The European Parliament Research Service provided an in-depth briefing with a focus on migration flows in Europe and the Parliament’s relevant legislative and policy responses. Fellows also met with officials from other European institutions, including the Council of Ministers and the European Commission. In order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the causes and global effects of migration flows, the fellows spoke with representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration. Senior officials of the U.S. Mission to the EU spoke to the group about migration, the Syria conflict, Russia and other areas of trans-Atlantic interest.
In Berlin, the fellows learned about national and local migration policy, politics, and security and processing challenges associated with the recent movement of over 1 million refugees and asylum seekers into Germany. The Federal Chancellery hosted the CEPI delegation for a number of discussions with its Coordination Office for Refugee Policy and the Office of the Federal Commissioner for Migrants, Refugees and Integration. The Bertelsmann Foundation had the pleasure of hosting officials from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and the State of Berlin’s Senate Chancellery at the Bertelsmann Representation at Unter den Linden 1. Other highlights include discussions with the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to Germany Kent Logsdon and with senior officials of the Federal Foreign Office’s newly formed Coordination Office for Refugees and Migration. Fellows also had the unique opportunity to meet and speak with newly arrived refugees. At the Malteser Refugee Shelter and Kiron University, fellows saw some of the unique challenges that these refugees face, an invaluable perspective that provided context to the issues the fellows were studying.
The success of the 2016 CEPI program was due, in great part, to meaningful collaboration with Bertelsmann Stiftung colleagues in Europe.
Samia Yakub is the Director of Communications at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC