Tag Archives: thames festival

The intern experience

We sometimes have work experience interns working in the office here. I know there is a lot of talk about interns, but I think that the European Commission manages it quite well. Outside the graduate intern scheme, which is open to all and paid, we are allowed to take short-term unpaid interns. However, their time here is limited to 3 months and they have to be registered students who can demonstrate that the internship is going to help them in their studies. We have had several who worked just a few hours a week alongside their studies, but for them it was valuable workplace experience. Our latest was Cristina Leon Barbadillo , who has written a guest post on her experiences here over the last month:

Within all that the international aspects of law have to offer, especially after having studied EU Law, I knew that, despite the possible limitation of sticking to a particular area (the EU), it was of greater interest to me than any other. I believe in the EU, in how much it benefits its members and also helps other areas, of how unity is always a better option.

 We sometimes don’t understand the functioning of things, of institutions in this case or, even if we think we do, it’s not until we get to see them from the inside that we properly get to know how they work and how much they do. I certainly wanted to be, in whichever way possible, part of the EU’s institutions, and combining such participation with living in a city that makes me feel at home, seemed like the perfect chance.

 Shortly after enquiring about the possibility of doing an internship at the European Commission’s Representation in the UK and sending my CV, I received a positive reply, offering me to be a trainee at the office for five weeks. I felt (and still feel) incredibly lucky for the chance I was given. It was time to see the EU internally, to have some work experience and to help me have a clearer idea of where I wanted to take my future career.

 I arrived to London in mid-August, a city that I know well and which never disappoints me. My first day at the office was my initial contact with the European Commission: meeting new people, getting used to being in an office, understanding the dynamics of it, finding out where everything was… I hadn’t truly known what to expect, but it turned out to be a fantastic first day. Everyone made me feel welcome, and they would keep on doing so throughout my time here.

One of the things I’ve most appreciated and enjoyed has been the variety of activities I’ve been involved in, having worked with other departments besides Media. I prepared a presentation for the Head of Media, I followed the news closely every day, analysed meetings and current affairs situations, helped with the organisation for the Thames Festival and the upcoming European Day of Languages, as well as, of course, the more personal aspects of every day life at the office, meeting new colleagues, being with a ‘usual crowd’ at lunchtime.

 The Thames Festival took place this past weekend, on the 10th and 11th September. Being at this event for the first time, having the chance to participate with the EC Representation, was a wonderful opportunity. There were people challenging their friends and families to our EU knowledge quiz, others taking publications to truly inform themselves on the importance of the EU and, of course, many children who I’m sure had a fantastic time. Despite the supposed unpopularity of the EU in the UK, I was quite surprised by (and pleased to see) the number of people our stall attracted and the interest shown by our visitors.

Over the past few days, people have been asking me about my departure and whether I was looking forward to going back home and getting on with my course after five weeks here. As much as I do miss my family, my friends, my homeland after all, everyone at the European Commission office in London has made me feel like I fitted in, they have treated me incredibly well and have sent me really interesting tasks, leaving me with the sensation that I was being taken seriously despite just being a student about to go onto her third year at university.

I don’t know where my future will take me, whether I’ll be lucky enough to return to this office but, at least, I will have been grateful for my magnificent time here and for all that I have learned. What I am sure of, however, is that, somehow, I would very much like to contribute to the evolution of the EU. Whether it is within the EU institutions or not, I would highly recommend anyone to gain some work experience during their studies. If, however, you are interested in the European Union, the EC Representation in the UK office in London would be an excellent place to start and where you will definitely feel welcome at all times.

Kevin is safe

Several papers carried pieces over the weekend about an EU ruling putting small garages out of business, because they won’t be able to get information about cars from the major manufacturers. This is all about something called the “block exemption” which has allowed agreements to have been made between car companies and independent garages. There are concerns that if this exemption is removed, smaller companies will no longer get this information. But we need to look at the big picture. Alongside the block exemption (which basically means that if companies work together they won’t get accused of operating a cartel), we also see that the Commission has actively required car manufacturers to provide information about how their cars work outside their own distribution network. To the extent of taking car manufacturers to court. These measures are much more forceful and enforceable than the block exemption and so will give a solid basis to the means by which independent garages can continue to operate. So Kevin the mechanic from Coronation Street (the example given by the Daily Express as a mechanic that will go out of business…could someone please tell them that it’s NOT REAL!!!) will still be able to ply his trade and in fact there will be much tougher enforcement if the car manufacturers try to stop him.

Had a lovely time at the weekend, manning a stall at the Thames Festival, within the New Europe Village, which was showcasing the new Memebr States. We handed out publications and people could take a quiz to test their EU knowledge. Even when all the freebies had gone (I’m not *totally* naive about these things) we had a lot of people picking up publications: several mums keen to support their child’s language learning; a woman who said to her boyfriend “we have to take this, it’s really interesting”; loads of people who sidled up and snuck a few brochures away as if they were going to get caught and an alarm would go off: “Whoop whoop, possible Europhile alert”. Very encouraging really, at the heart of what is supposedly the most Eurosceptic country.

Small World

I was at Embankment Tube yesterday waiting for the Northern Line, on my way to Kentish Town to see Gomez. I sat on one of those seats and then thought, I think I know the guy sitting next to me! I looked (surreptitiously) and thought, he looks like Anthony Browne, who used to be Times correspondent in Brussels. The tube arrived, he got on and I didn’t, and seeing him face on I realised it was indeed Anthony, but it was too late. When I came in today, I thought I’d google him to see if he is still at the Times, but it turns out he’s just started as Policy Director for Boris Johnson! So if you’ve got a web alert set up for your name, Anthony, and it spews up this post – congratulations on the new job and it’d be nice to get in touch!

It was a day of renewing old friendships. As I say I was at the gig where Gomez played their Bring It On album, which won the Mercury Music Prize in 1998. Hearing each song was like rediscovering an old mate. Appropriate, because I was there with Jane, who I was at school with and until I moved back to London, hadn’t seen for about 15 years!

I’ve signed up to man our stall at the Thames Festival for a few hours next Sunday. Sounds like a fun event – as long as the weather holds. At least I’ll be under cover!

Just for information, I’ve started an events page – we support a lot of cultural events and I thought it would be good to let people know what is going on. I’ll do my best to update it regularly.