The U.S. Mission to the EU has been in the middle of the action this summer: President Obama was in town for the G-7 summit, Secretary of State John Kerry was spotted at the Embassy prior to his visit to NATO in June, and USEU officials were heavily involved with the sixth round of the history-making Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations. Being a college student who has only studied international relations and the EU in the classroom, it has been an invaluable and exciting opportunity to experience diplomacy firsthand, especially in light of the many world events that have recently taken place.
My internship experience has been quite different from the others at USEU, as I am the only intern with the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS). The FCS helps American companies do business in the EU by advocating for their business interests and assisting them with support and information about EU legislation. Companies interested in exporting to the EU come to our office with inquiries that are responded to by one of our many specialists, whose areas of expertise vary from market access to product standards. As the intern, I work alongside everyone in the office, and thus have worked on a wide breadth of disciplines throughout the past 10 weeks. There is no typical day as a FCS intern. I had the opportunity to attend several conferences around Brussels with stakeholders and EU officials, I participated in meetings with representatives from American companies, and I researched EU legislation relating to sectors such as chemicals, machine safety, and medical devices.
I particularly liked representing the FCS at conferences that were hosted by EU institutions and think tanks. Besides enjoying complimentary meals and caffeinated beverages, as well as networking with stakeholders, I also gained a more cohesive perspective about how the work of FCS fits into what else is happening in Brussels. One event detailed a comparison between electronic payment methods in different countries, while a working lunch reflected upon ways that the U.S. and EU can collectively achieve more energy efficiency. My favorite conference, partially because of the fancy coffee machines, but also because of the lively discussion, was hosted by the European Center for International Political Economy and explored how the interests of various global European cities relate to T-TIP. Cities serve an important economic function; as they become increasingly populated there is a need for job growth, environmentally sustainable practices, and product innovation. I found it particularly interesting to approach T-TIP from a different angle and to consider global cities as an integral unit of the international political economy.
One of the major themes of my internship was the importance of strengthening the transatlantic connection between the U.S. and the EU. A transatlantic trade partnership can create huge benefits for both American and European businesses. The FCS has the important role of fostering diplomacy and cross-cultural connections through facilitating international business relations.
By Emily Schultz, intern with USEU’s Foreign Commercial Service.