Common saying is that European institutions are “far away” from European citizens: firstly, they are mostly based in Brussels; secondly, they often run affairs that the civil society does not comprehend deeply and does not consider as priority for its needs. Therefore, the feeling of distant institutions which pursue unimportant or unachievable goals for the mutual interest is broadly popular.
On February 10 and 11, Brussels hosted the 2017 EU studies fair. At this annual event, students can meet universities that offer a program in international studies and they can learn about job prospects and how to build a career in the field of European affairs. A very interesting opportunity is approaching in March when the European Personal Selection Office (EPSO) opens the applications for a permanent position in the EU institutions. The minimum requirements are easy to meet: EU citizenship, knowledge of at least 2 EU languages, and a Bachelor’s degree. Any academic path is welcome as the EU structure needs to rely on a very dynamic, multifunctional and skilled team. This open competition is indeed competitive: only about 100 candidates will be selected out of thousands. However, it is worth to try for those who are eager to take the chance.
As an EU citizen, the visit at the European Parliament, the Commission and other EU offices has been a compelling direct method to review and learn how the European mechanisms work. There is more to it than merely politics, although it seems to be the only aspect under the light of the media. In fact, there is an array of assistants, public and private agencies and associations whose main task focuses on cooperation, mediation and integration of countries given the constraints that the world faces in real life and in real economy, such as social emergencies and financial budgets. Information and insights that I received from the young officers working at the institutions were indeed valuable. I could not help noticing enthusiasm and engagement in the stories of their work experience. Showing the passion and putting an effort into the activities undertaken are the key elements to make an actual contribution to our society. Being active is a value that is faltering as people grow the belief that each possible small action or change is meaningless and useless.
As a tourist, taking a trip to Brussels has also been a way to see the intercultural environment in the city. A cold, rainy-snowy place but with a warm and welcoming heart. In fact, most inhabitants are young people from all over the world. Such a model of co-living and integration should not be taken for granted. Nowadays, only a few places have showed the ability to keep people together against current concerning events (e.g.: crises and terroristic attacks) rather than raising walls between minorities.
Overall, by taking a bite of Brussels and of the EU institutions for a few days, I feel even more represented by them. As we consider that the decision-making process in the EU is based on unanimity, the commission is composed by one representative for each member state (which currently may create frictions and slow the procedures) and the Parliament was elected by the citizens who voted in the last elections in 2014, it is evident that the EU institutions cannot but express the will of the entire community. Besides structural issues, the reasons why I feel represented and that link me and many other young students to the European project are the ideas that the city of Brussels conveys: opportunity, energy, jobs, effort, meeting of cultures, sharing of values and common targets, and the faith in all these values, even when all we have built so far is at risk.