EP Delegation Receives a Hands On Introduction to the U.S. Electoral System

By Dion Wierts, Cultural Affairs Assistant at the United States Mission to the European Union

What better time for a group of Members of the European Parliament and the EU40 network to travel to the U.S. then when the primary debates are all over the media. In fact, the first three states that hold their primaries generally get as much media attention as all the other states together. By July, both political camps will have identified their respective candidate who will run for President on November 8. During the past couple months, there has been a significant ramp up of political campaigning, presidential candidate debates, media coverage, and voter registration drives.  Continue reading “EP Delegation Receives a Hands On Introduction to the U.S. Electoral System”

Beyond the Beltways: Tour Highlights Regional Views on T-TIP for EP Staffers

By Elizabeth Martin-Shukrun, Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Mission to the EU

What does Carolina barbecue have to do with T-TIP? It’s a juicy question. This week, a group of European Parliament staffers rounds off a U.S. Mission-organized visit to the United States focused on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), with stops in North and South Carolina. Between meetings with European businesses such as BMW and Michelin investing in South Carolina, visits to tech centers and agricultural producers, and discussions with state and local officials and business associations on how trade benefits them, they have found time to savor the legendary barbecue for which the Carolinas are known.

EP staffers tweet

Most EU representatives visit Washington regularly, meeting with Members of Congress and Administration officials, yet they seldom venture beyond the Beltway on those trips. If U.S. policies are made in Washington, is it important for EU officials to understand South Carolina or Pennsylvania? Continue reading “Beyond the Beltways: Tour Highlights Regional Views on T-TIP for EP Staffers”

U.S. and EU Focus on Evolving Foreign Fighter Threat

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council, in a rare heads-of-government session led by President Obama, adopted a binding resolution calling on all member countries to strengthen their domestic laws and other efforts to prevent the travel of foreign terrorist fighters. The resolution attracted 104 co-sponsors, the second-highest number in the history of the UN Security Council.

Panel on "De-radicalization of Foreign Fighters: Comparing U.S. and EU Practices" at the European Parliament on September 23, 2014. Photo: USEU
Panel on “De-radicalization of Foreign Fighters: Comparing U.S. and EU Practices” at the European Parliament on September 23, 2014. Photo: USEU

In the lead-up to this historic measure, USEU partnered with the European Foundation for Democracy to sponsor a series of events in Brussels on Tuesday focusing on the rapidly-evolving threat posed by foreign fighters. At a standing-room only public discussion at the European Parliament, and in other venues for groups of influential policy-makers, U.S. and European experts shared the results of their research, and their experiences in working with returning foreign fighters and those at risk of recruitment. Continue reading “U.S. and EU Focus on Evolving Foreign Fighter Threat”

Democracy in Action in the (Other) Capital of the EU

When I first started learning about the European Union as an undergraduate, the dominant opinion in the political science literature that I read was that the European Parliament (EP) was a training ground for promising but untested future politicians or a victory lap for those who had finished their national political careers—an institution with little actual power that did not attract serious interest from mainstream parties back in the Member States.

Outside look of European Parliament
Outside look of European Parliament in Strasbourg

In the five years since the entrance into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, a whole new kind of Parliament has emerged, one that not only has broader official power but that also continuously works to raise its profile and carve out an increased role for itself within the EU institutional framework.  The U.S. Mission to the European Union views a strong and close relationship with the EP as a key part of its broader engagement with EU institutions on the full range of transatlantic issues. Continue reading “Democracy in Action in the (Other) Capital of the EU”

USEU Exchange Program Alumni – Diplomacy at Work and Play

As a new member of USEU’s Public Affairs team, I find it both exciting and challenging to try to grasp the extent of collaboration between the United States and the EU. While our governments seek common ground on a variety of issues, the Public Affairs office engages in people-to-people diplomacy.

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Ambassador Gardner meets European Parliament staffers after they return from an IVLP trip to the United States. Photo: USEU

As a U.S. Government program alumna myself, I strongly believe that exchange programs are one of the most effective and long-lasting ways to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between people and nations. In my new job, I see this in action every day. Since my arrival in January, my primary responsibility has been to work with USEU alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a flagship exchange that sends European professionals on tours of the United States. Continue reading “USEU Exchange Program Alumni – Diplomacy at Work and Play”