Sunday, 8 January 2012

Organizing trips for the stagiaires is somewhat frustrating

ESJ continues to present you members of the Stage Committee. This week we will focus on trips. Lothar Van Driessche studied law at Ghent University for five years and obtained a postgraduate master at the Free University of Berlin, in European and International Business, Competition and Regulatory Law. He focused on Energy Law, which is the reason why he currently works in DG Energy. Lothar, the news addict interested in technology and social networking, is a Trip Coordinator. How does he like this position?
"I strongly believe in the need for a strong Europe,
 if it's an enormous cliché."
Why did you decide to stand as a candidate for the Stage Committee position? Did you have any specific or special intentions?

I decided it last minute because the Liaison Committee had too few candidates the Friday before, and I felt there should definitely be a SC. My intention wasn't to do trips; I presented myself during the election as a candidate general. As people aren't elected for a function however, it's up to the elects to divide the functions among themselves, and the others decided differently. Doing trips is fun however, and when I decide to engage myself for something, I always fully commit to it.

How do you feel about your role as the Trip coordinator, what has your work looked like so far, and what about the trips that have already been done?

Organizing and working out trips is fun and from the reactions of the participants about the trips to Ghent, Amsterdam and Berlin, I take it that they were pretty good, at least they were very well-received. On the other hand, I must admit that organizing trips for the stagiaires is somewhat frustrating because it's so difficult to get enough people on them. I'm disappointed so far with the amount of people that registered, especially for the Berlin trip (though it was great fun with a very good, yet small group). Of course, it is comprehendible in a way. First of all, we make very little money as stagiaires, so I understand that people without any savings or some help from home just don't have the means to come on trips (though I think that's a minority). In the end a lot of them just don't have any free weekends or days of holiday left to go away with the SC. In that optic, I have my doubts about the relevance of the function of trip coordinator, maybe something to consider for the next liaison/stage committee. This being said however, I'd like to make clear that for the remainder of this stage being, I continue to be fully committed to my function.

What are the main plans regarding trips? 

The upcoming trips will be amazing, starting with the ski trip (31/01 to 5/02 in Le Corbier), for which quite some people registered already and I hope a lot will follow the next weeks, because we have REALLY amazing conditions to offer! Further on the programme is probably also a day trip to Luxemburg in February, and some smaller things within Brussels, such as visits to a brewery and chocolate factory, and a visit to Redu, "the village of books".

What about the Stage Committee team, what were your impressions of them? 

All strong and diverse characters, what is not very surprising. Personally I can be very stubborn, which sometimes causes severe discussions, often my own fault, I don't mind admitting that. But the same goes for Michael and Deborah, I think. When a decision has been taken however, I do feel that everyone will close the ranks and stick up for the rest. I guess that's always the most important in the end, that you form a team. It's a bit the Commission in small, in that respect.

What is your personal attachment to the European Commission. What were your main reasons for applying for a traineeship, and so far, how do you like your traineeship?

I strongly believe in the need for a strong Europe, it's an enormous cliché, but I'm convinced that without the EU, the old continent will be blown off the stage in the world of the 21st century; people who aren't realizing that yet, are blind. This traineeship, apart from being an intellectual challenge and valuable experience (professional and personal) allows me to combine my believes with my professional ambitions. I also enjoy an international environment, especially since I've studied abroad, and the Commission offers that. Of course, as a Belgian, it's at the same time practical for me to work in Brussels.

By Lucia Mrázová