Tag: brussels

EU in Focus Day 3: Down to Business

A group of 20-year olds infiltrated the EU Commission building and held back-to-back meetings this past Monday, October 30th. The young adults were all students travelling in representation of New York University, forming part of the institution’s annual trip to Brussels, Belgium.

“This is an extraordinary group”, reluctantly admitted Professor of Comparative Politics at NYU Florence, Nicolo Conti.

Well, perhaps ‘infiltrated’ is the wrong word. Yet being granted the privilege to take part in a conversation held at a EU conference room felt quite surreal. This is what I mean by infiltrating; we jumped a few steps. We were by far the youngest crowd within a 5-mile radius.

Our first session was held in the Council of the EU at 10:00 a.m. with Maurizio Di Lullo. Di Lullo is a Political Administrator, focusing on climate change, he also takes part in the Coordination and Horizontal Affairs Unit; he is a member of the Environment, Education, Youth, Culture, Audiovisual and Sports Directorate and the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.

Throughout the meeting, Di Lullo discussed several characteristics behind one of the most recent outbreaks in Environmental Politics: The Paris Agreement. The speaker put much emphasis on the gravity behind the eminent threat that is climate change and explained the measures the EU is taking to help combat the issue as well.

At the end, several questions were raised by the students; some oriented towards the US’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and how the decision might affect the treaty’s effectivity. Di Lullo responded by saying, “I think that there is no way back from the Paris Agreement. Because everybody is in and is convinced that this is the only way. In the US, basically what I see, is some people who are not willing to go along. But that is something that we have seen already for the last 20 years. In the conservative (atmosphere) there is apparently a reluctance to go along with this but what we see in the rest of the US is that action is being taken, what matters the most is not the legal framework”.

Our next speaker was Susanne Nielsen, also a Political Administrator, member of the External Relations, Asylum and Migration Unit, Home Affairs Directorate, and General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. Nielsen’s focus is immigration policies, a currently very heated area given Europe’s on-going immigration crisis.

Nielsen presented the immigration policies that have sprouted from the EU’s current crisis, and the many issues arising. Nielsen informed the students of the degrading conditions of the Hotspots claiming this to be one of the pressing concerns. Hotspots are locations where the asylum-seekers remain before they are legally transferred into another European country for refuge. In her conference, Nielsen claimed “some have given up, some have asked for voluntary return to their country of origin. Which is why we are seeing very low number of crossings”.

The morning meetings were followed by lunch with Walter Parrs who is a Programs and Exchanges officer at the US Mission to the EU. Parrs had much to say regarding the manner with which the United States is perceived abroad. He re-assured many students that the GOP has not swayed the EU’s willingness to work with the United States, yet that many were left stunned after the elections.

Parrs also touched on his personal experience, explaining how he conceived the position he currently holds.

After lunch, NYU Students had two more presentations to attend, both taking place inside the European Commission building. The European Commission is occupied by what some would call the EU’s ‘government’ as it is the governmental entity in charge of proposing new policies.

At the European Commission, we were greeted by Alexandra Kiel. Ms. Kiel forms part of the Unit Inter-institutional Relations and Citizenship, Directorate- General Migration and Home Affairs.

Kiel’s session focused on European immigration policies and enumerated some of the objectives the European Commission is attempting to achieve, amongst them: “the abolition of people smuggling networks, and emergency relocation proposals”.

To conclude our day, we had Mr. Pascal Delisle walk us through the main characteristics of the Paris Agreement. Delisle went through all the major threats that are direct effects of global warming and emphasized the need of a treaty such as The Paris Agreement.

All conferences were equally valuable, and presented the students with unfathomable opportunities such as visiting these typically off-limits institutions and highly influential officials. When asked about the trip, the NYU Florence Student body agreed on the trip’s effectivity in widening the student’s understanding of the European Union and its institutions.

EU in Focus: An Insight into European Politics Day 1

Let’s start from the very beginning. Which, and I am definitely not complaining, would be incredibly early in the day. 4:45 am to be exact. You know they do flights around these hours so people end up missing them. You just know it.

The first batch of students, Antonio Di Meglio, Dylan Liang, Brian Wang, WanChen Zhao, Jordin Tafoya, and me, Oriana De Angelis, were the lucky winners of Lufthansa’s 6 am morning flight to Frankfurt. From there, we would catch a second plane to Brussels.

Yet, you know what was beautiful? The fact that despite it being 4:45 am, the time when Ana Dicu—the head coordinator—requested we meet up and ride together to the airport, everyone was up on that bus, radiating smiles and 110 percent ready to take on this journey. We had been waiting for this ever since that first EU in Focus session with the distinguished NYU Florence Professor, Nicolò Conti.

Fast forward to 2 pm when we arrive to the hotel—I slept through most of the flights, sorry kids. We drop off our bags, then instantly set out in search for food and do a little sightseeing around the city, waiting for the next set of students to reach Brussels.

 
A brief description of Brussels: aligning the streets are christmast-townish looking homes, the after-math of the city’s Art Noveau oriented design. The skies are cloudy, and the temperature slightly chilly, Brussel’s climatic characteristics.

It was 3 pm when the rest of the students arrived. Around an hour after they joined us, we were taken to the House of European History by our lovely coordinator. It was an astonishing museum, with tablets guiding you through their exhibits and narrating the history behind every piece on display.

NYU Florence student Syanne Rios gave her opinion on the museum, saying how “the way everything was displayed was very contemporary. It presented very interactive and engaging exhibitions.”

Isabel Giacomozzi, a NYU junior stuyding abroad in Florence as well, expressed a positive experience too, describing the museum as “wonderfully self-aware of all the flaws and triumphs underlying Europe’s history”.


The museum’s appeal was evident, large credit goes to the wide variety of artifacts that put emphasis on every historical event, giving Europe’s history a strong feel of realness, even to non-Europeans (most of the NYU student body).

Afterwards, we all walked back to the hotel, where we had dinner with another of NYU Florence’s star professors, Gian Luca Sgueo. Professor Sgueo provided students  with a brief overview of his work in the European Parliament Research service. Sgueo described his work as a policy analyst, claiming that the institution “takes requests from European Institutions to conduct research on certain policies, particularly European citizen’s rights, lobbying, and democracy”.

The professor answered several questions from the students as well, creating an immersive dialogue and providing us all with an ever more extensive understanding of the European Union’s values and tasks.

And this was just day one. Can’t wait to see what else Ana has in store for us!

NYU Students Meet the EU

For half of the working group, the EU in Focus trip to Brussels began with a 5:00 am meeting time at the Florence airport. Once we arrived in Brussels we were given the opportunity to explore the city for the remainder of the Saturday, making the early morning flight seem inconsequential. The city was as lively as expected, especially for a weekend.  After spending an entire day roaming around downtown and enjoying all the Belgian waffles and fries that Brussels could offer us, we reconvened at the hotel for dinner as a group and were able to listen to two guest speakers from the EU, one of them an NYU alumna. Our hotel was located in the government sector of the city, which meant that on the weekend there was little traffic on the roads and very few pedestrians. This completely changed on Monday when each establishment reawoke to keep the European continent fully functioning, until the next Saturday came around five days later. Read more

A Love Letter to La Pietra Dialogues

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La Pietra Dialogues always works hard to provide students with relevant and exciting educational programs. But last week, the good people of LPD outdid themselves with a sponsored field trip to Brussels and Luxembourg. A month ago, I joined the EU in Focus Working Group, one of the many programs LPD has to offer, and began to learn about the intricacies of the supranational political system uniting Europe. But last week, I was able to truly experience the work of the EU as my peers and I traveled from Florence to Brussels to Luxembourg, touring and participating in several EU institutions. Read more

A Great Time In Brussels

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School trips can make anyone anxious. For the two weeks before departing for Brussels, I debated whether I should even go… The trip was during fall break, and it was educational, and after my first half semester of college, I needed a mental break.

My anxiety turned out to be completely unfounded. The NYU Brussels trip to visit the EU was one of the most enriching experiences that I have had. To start with, Brussels was an amazing city. In a fusion of old buildings and modern city planning, the city was easy to navigate, with public transportation meaning you were never further than 10 minutes away from your destination. Read more