Anyone who follows me on any form of social media will know that I recently took a trip to Brussels with university- I haven’t stopped posting about it, it was a lovely city and I learned so much whilst I was there! So I thought I’d write a blog post on my experience- Enjoy!
Day one was a full day of travelling, starting at Uni at 6am and arriving in Leuven at 5.30pm. It was a long day! Our first evening in Leuven consisted mainly of eating and sleeping- we unpacked, went for a lovely walk and then found a restaurant that played only Disney songs, which seemed the perfect way to spend our evening meal!
Here is one of the gorgeous spots that we found whilst we were walking, it was lovely!
We spent the morning of our first full day pottering around Leuven and seeing the local sites before heading into Brussels for the afternoon. Once we’d arrived in Brussels (and hunted down the nearest coffee shop, of course!), we visited the European Parliament. When we arrived at parliament, we met Jaqueline Foster MEP, who explained the work that she does and how she imagines Brexit to pan out. Jaqueline Foster is a conservative MEP with a particular interest in tourism and travel. Her day to day work involves meetings with different organisations, travelling between her home near Liverpool, over to Brussels, and occasionally off to Strasbourg too- she’s an extremely busy lady! When asked about her views on Brexit, she suggested that she didn’t think there would be as much change as is predicted- due to the fact that a lot of European Union laws are within UK constitutional law! Which was very reassuring for those of us who voted remain! It was extremely interesting to listen to Jaqueline Foster speak and understand the importance of her role within the European Parliament.
Our third day in Brussels was spent visiting the European Commission for the morning and the afternoon was spent visiting the Economic and Social Committee. I learned about the role of the European Commission as the political executive of the EU and how it communicates with the other institutions of the European Union. The commission’s main purpose is to co-legislate and propose legislation, it also plays a role in infringement proceedings. The commission is also required to provide regular written feedback on European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) opinions. This was extremely helpful when it came to visiting the Economic and Social committee as I understood how the different institutions worked together and what their roles were and how the Economic and Social Committee fits into that. I must admit, I wasn’t fully aware of the role of the Economic and Social committee until this visit, however I now fully appreciate all that it does. The Economic and social committee of the European Union acts as the voice of civil society within Europe, offering opinions and reports in response to proposed EU policies and feeds into the decision making process between the Commission and other co-legislators. It has 6 sections to its covering areas such as economy, transport, the single market etc and its members are not active in all areas but pick one or two areas that they have a particular interest in. I found this talk particularly interesting as I was completely unaware of the role of the EESC, the areas that it works in, how it works, and how it fits with other EU institutions.
That concludes my time in Brussels. A short trip, but I would love to return. It was an extremely enjoyable trip in which I learned a lot about the European Union and came to appreciate how it works and its role a lot more. Obviously, I couldn’t visit Belgium without trying traditional Belgium waffles and chocolate too, so there was plenty of food consumed on my trip also! I am so glad that I went on this trip and am incredibly grateful to Edge Hill’s Student Opportunity fund scholarship for the chance to attend.