Hello hello! Or should I say bonjour bonjour! It’s been awhile since my last post, but that’s because I spent last week in Brussels, Belgium on my long study tour for my class on the European Game of Politics and wow, we’ve done so much! So in an effort to keep you reading even though this post heavily features politics, I’m going to highlight my favorite things we’ve done on this trip rather than go into every detail!
A day normally reserved for sleeping in became a day to wake up before 5am in order to fly from Copenhagen to Brussels. Thankfully we got to catch up on some of our missed sleep on the bus ride from the airport to a World War I museum called “In Flanders Field.” This museum is named after the famous poem of the same name written by John McCrae. It featured lots of stories about the people, both soldiers and civilians, who were affected by the war which I found more fascinating than visiting a museum that only focused on the military events. Our tour guide was also really knowledgeable and told us tons of interesting details like how the uniforms the French soldiers wore for most of the war were bright blue jackets and bright red pants which essentially made them a walking target wherever they went. Going to this museum also gave our class an introduction as to one of the main reasons why the EU was founded post WWI and WWII; as a way to keep Europe at peace instead of continually going to war with one another.
Our first full day in Brussels! We started with another lecture about the European Union just so that we had as much background knowledge as possible before we began our meetings and interviews. Hans Martens, our lecturer, was great about explaining the Euro Crisis of the late 2000s in a way that was fun and easy to understand, something that really helped as we went to our first political actor interviews later that afternoon.
My group interviewed the Permanent Representative for Denmark, Griet Storr-Hansen, who is the Minster/Counselor on the Research, Innovation, and Space Committee. We talked about the importance of directing EU funds to fields that focus on research and innovation because they can help all member states, both large and small.
It was a to-do Tuesday for the books! We visited both the European Parliament and European Commission on Tuesday which was so cool. While visiting parliament we heard from Jeppe Kofod the Leader of the Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament who was able to answer our questions about the makeup of the members of parliament and what their main job duties are. He also discussed the future of the EU and how it could either become more integrated than it currently is or continue to break down as more member states vote to leave.
Later that afternoon we went to the European Commission where we met with Mette Dyrskjot who talked to us about the EU’s competition policy and how they are trying to create a level playing field among all of the member states by making sure everyone taxes companies evenly. This has become a big problem in recent years as states like Ireland and the Netherlands tax companies like Apple and Starbucks much less than they should which forms loopholes for the companies to pay less taxes in other parts of the EU as well.
So far so good, am I right? Stay tuned for more about the second half of my week in Brussels in my next post! 🙂