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Personal insights: Adrian von der Hagen

Early May, part-session in Brussels. Everywhere you look, people are pacing through the corridors. Assistants, their arms filled to the brim with stacks of paper, MEPs, usually closely followed by their entourage as well as Commission officials, pursued by journalists and their staff. Cameras on every corner. Interviews are being conducted everywhere. In between, a few paces slower, groups of visitors make their rounds. And in the midst of this pulsating mass: Me – just having arrived at the European Parliament.

I had been looking forward to an exciting, eventful time in Brussels and in the office of Dr. Christian Ehler and I was not disappointed. After a quick introduction by the office team, things got started right away for me. The first meeting of the Security and Defence Committee with Europol’s senior management on the topic of “Border security in times of mass migration” showed me what tasks, among others, would await me in the months to come: Working on highly topical issues, reporting to the office on the committee’s work, as well as being permanently on call for spontaneous tasks.

On top of that, there were lots of other tasks with a thematic versatility that I would not have expected before. Since Dr. Ehler is involved in various areas, the spectrum of topics that have to be worked on is very broad. From the trade war between the USA and Europe to the future of European defense policy all the way to artificial intelligence and the role of the cultural and creative industries for the European Union, everything is covered.

As an intern in the office, you work together with one of Dr. Ehlers’s assistants who is responsible for one of his topics. In my case, this was Freya, who focusses on security and defence, terrorism, cultural and creative industries and cooperation with the American Embassy. The teamwork is really fun and the atmosphere in the office is great.

Especially exciting for me was the so-called intern day, where you accompany Dr. Ehler to every meeting throughout the day after doing the preparation for them in advance. Legislative texts were discussed line by line with negotiating partners, new reforms were planned and upcoming ones were supported, so that you get a very good insight into the work of a Member of the European Parliament. 

I can only recommend an internship in the European Parliament to everyone. On the one hand for thematic reasons. By working on such a wide range of different topics, you learn a lot of new things and get an excellent overview of very specialized topics. On the other hand, you see the functioning and relevance of the European institutions in a new light, because what becomes apparent after three months of internship in Brussels is that Europe is at a crossroads. Everywhere, nationalists are gaining strength in the member states, rejecting a strengthening of the European idea. The 2019 European elections are expected to permanently change the face of the European Parliament and it is up to us to prevent this from happening. During the time in Brussels, one realizes that the European idea works and that it is beneficial for all parties involved.

Adrian von der Hagen

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