Monday, 27 February 2017

Luxembourg and Brussels, a guide to enjoying study trips

Utrecht University students at the Court of Justice of the European Union

When it comes to study trips, everyone is keen on forgetting the long and studious days or nights before the exams. Along with my classmates of the European Law masters programme we had a very fruitful, professional and also fun study trip to Luxembourg and Brussels. A number of EU institutions welcomed us in their headquarters, providing numerous workshops, presentations, guided tours and even challenging quizzes. After leaving Utrecht at the first hours of the day (in a very comfortable bus) we headed towards Luxembourg, where upon arrival, the Court of Auditors (ECA) was waiting for us, the eager students, to show aspects of the daily functioning of the institution. I must say that this visit was quite interesting, since for a large number of students, it was probably the first contact with such an EU institution. Established to audit the EU’s finances, the results of the ECA’s work are used by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and the Member States to oversee the management of the EU budget and, where necessary, make improvements.

However, the day after was overly exciting due to the visit to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Our enthusiasm could be easily perceived. Finally we were stepping to that institution which is one of the main actors in the shaping of European law as we know until present days. It was extremely valuable to come in touch with the real place and people that develop EU’s case law, as much as it was inspiring. More than half of the Court’s human resources are made of translators and interpreters, and it was charming to see the swiftness with which they contributed to make the communication between all official languages of the Union possible. During our visit at the CJEU, we had the great chance to attend a court hearing concerning a Dutch tax law case, quite technical in nature as it entailed the explication of the “regulated market” concept, but nevertheless very interesting to attend. Equally nice and enriching, was the meeting with Judge Sacha Prechal, who welcomed us in a private informal lunch. The stay in Luxembourg was quite hectic, as immediately after we paid a visit to the European Investment Bank (EIB), again a “new” institution as regards our knowledge which actually is the world’s largest multilateral borrower and lender. It was interesting to understand that they provide finance and expertise for sustainable investment projects that contribute to EU policy objectives. With this, our Luxembourg visits came to an end and we were fully prepared to spend another fruitful day, this time in Brussels.

What else could be the main attraction for an EU law student in Brussels, either than the European Commission? And of course, this was our next step. The DG for Communication had prepared a list of interesting meetings and workshop for us, starting with the presentation given by Mr. Ludo Tegenbosch on the role of the European Commission as the political executive of the European Union, continuing with the informal meeting with Mrs Simona Constantin, member of the Jourova cabinet, responsible for justice, consumers and gender equality and finishing with Mr Harrie Temminik and his commitment to the digital single market. Our Brussels adventure came to an end with the visit to the Dutch permanent representation to the EU, where very committed Dutch members explained what was it like to work every day with the EU institutions trying to maintain your national country’s interests at the best level. Undoubtedly, it was a true lecture of negotiation.

The Luxembourg and Brussels trip was one of the best memories that students will cherish forever and I want to heartily thank our professor Diane Fromage for her commitment, organisation and of course, patience.

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