As part of the European Parliament Schuman Traineeship, the six Trainees in TermCoord went to visit the EU facilities in Strasbourg together with the rest of the Schuman Trainees from Luxembourg. The Trainees visited Strasbourg on 17th and 18th of December, where they were introduced to multiple interinstitutional units. They also got the chance to visit the Council of Europe. As part of the visit, the Trainees saw the European Parliament in action during a Plenary Sitting. The discussion was about Conflict of interest and corruption affecting the protection of the EU’s financial interests in the Member States.
During the visit, the Trainees chatted with the Slovenian Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Tanja Fajon, member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament. Ms Fajon explained how coming from a journalistic background, she became one of the most popular politicians in Slovenia. During the meeting, Ms Fajon took questions from the trainees. Everything, from her background to current political topics and the change in European politics was discussed.
The Trainees were introduced to the institution of the European Ombudsman and were lucky to sit through the voting session in the European Parliament that would decide the new Ombudsman. The previous Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly was re-elected by Parliament for her second five-year mandate. O’Reilly later expressed her gratitude for the re-election and said, “For the next five years, I will help ensure the EU maintains the highest standards in administration, transparency and ethics. Europeans expect and deserve nothing less. One priority will remain tackling the lack of the transparency of EU law making by national governments in Brussels. We need to stop the ‘blame Brussels’ culture, when often it is citizens’ own national Ministers taking the key decisions in the EU.”
Finally, the Trainees witnessed the Sakharov Prize Ceremony in the European Parliament. The 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought went to the Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti. Due to his imprisonment, Tohti could not be present at the Ceremony. European Parliament President David Sassoli had this to say about Tohti and his imprisonment, “Tohti has dedicated his life to advocating for the rights of the Uyghur minority in China. Despite being a voice of moderation and reconciliation, he was sentenced to life in prison following a show trial in 2014. By awarding this prize, we strongly urge the Chinese government to release Tohti and we call for the respect of minority rights in China”. His daughter Jewher Ilham accepted the award on his behalf in front of the European Parliament.
Written by Mads Rise
Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. Holds a BA in English and IT-based Marketing and Communication from the University of Southern Denmark. Mads finished his BA with a thesis on Search Engine Optimisation and E-commerce. He has hands-on experience in web communication, SEO, administration and logistics.