Just imagine a world in which products that are harmful for your health are no longer being supervised or banned, there were no joint forces to handle terrorism in Europe or no more financial and administrative support for people who want to work or study abroad. These are just a few examples that we European citizens benefit from every day. All of this might not be possible if it wasn’t for the laws and measurements created and passed in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Good morning, Brussels!
The morning of our excursion already started in a quite exciting manner. The moment we passed the Royal Palace of Brussels, it appeared that the King was just leaving the palace. There were numerous security guards, vehicles and finally also a car with the number 1 on the number plate. Only a few minutes after this accidental “encounter” we finally arrived at the European Parliament. The security checks didn’t take to long and thanks to the employees we easily found our way to the prepared meeting room.
About ten minutes later, we all sat there listening to Geert Bourgeois, Belgian Member of the European Parliament and former prime minister of Flanders. He quickly introduced himself and then decided to just answer the questions we had prepared for the “Meet and Greet”. The more questions he answered and the more he talked, the more guilt I felt for just taking “everything” the EU does for its citizens for granted.
United we are strong
According to Geert Bourgeois, the European Union guarantees us stability and peace, as there was no war on the continent since the Second World War, for example. He also referred to the institution as the “biggest diplomatic network after Washington”. At the same time, the former Flemish prime minister also emphasized the importance of democracy in general because it should always guarantee the citizens’ fundamental human rights. “We’re lucky to be living in democracies – they’re rare worldwide”, he adds.
In the end, Geert also mentioned some of his visions for the EU’s future. From his point of view, the EU can and should aim to be the world’s leader in climate or trade policies. Additionally, he thinks that there should be more investments in innovation, which I absolutely agree with. On the other hand, there were certain questions that he only answered quite superficially. From the journalistic point of view, I thought it would have been necessary to dig a little deeper and do even more research beforehand. Since his busy schedule did not leave to much time for the meeting with our group, it would have been difficult to elaborate on controversial topics in a more detailed way, though.
Time for some reflection
All in all, it was an exciting and informative opportunity to be part of such a “talk” with a Member of the European Parliament as a “simple student”. I would like to end this little review with one of Geert Bourgeois’ quotes that I thought was quite uptodate and accurate: “The EU brought us prosperity by creating an internal market. And the Brits are going to feel that when they leave.”
Howest: Meeting Flanders today – Personal story/review (Text 2)