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Personal insights: Christoph Schulze

In the heart of Europe

Monday, 5 February 2018 was a cool and windy day. A quick stop at the accreditation centre, a photo, a badge with my picture, security control, remove all metal objects, take them back, a final revolving door and there it was: the European Parliament.

I didn’t know what to expect for the next two months. Would I understand everything? Would I be of useful help to my office? What would the Member of Parliament be like and would I be able to use the coffee machine correctly? And more importantly: Is the European Parliament really an unimportant and meaningless institution of the EU which, in a way, is there but at the same time isn’t there?

I was an intern in the Brussels office of the Member of Parliament, Dr. Ehler, in February and March 2018. During these two months, I had the unique opportunity to obtain interesting and profound insights into the work and running of the European Parliament and of the office of a Member of Parliament. During this time, I experienced a lot: profound discussions, meetings, work tasks and events that widened my horizons and helped me grow.

My tasks were not limited to getting the coffee (which, in fact, was never really my job). I did background research and prepared presentations, event reports, press releases and briefing notes for Dr. Ehler. I participated in a two-day mini plenum in Brussels and numerous commission and party meetings.

At that time, Dr. Ehler’s new website was being prepared, so a lot of my time was dedicated to that task. In particular, I would like to mention the interviews with Dr. Ehler which were prepared by the team and carried out with a lot of dedication and pleasure. The result was ‘Ask Brussels’: a really personal and intense series covering subjects that are important for the German state of Brandenburg as well as for Europe as a whole. We can all be really proud of that.

Topic-wise, my work was divided into two parts. The focus was on research and innovation politics: Horizon 2020, EIC, JRC and many other expressions that were unknown to me until that point and which I was able to get to know, study and comprehend. I also helped to plan the new FP9 research framework programme. It will be the biggest research programme in the world; a foundation for the future. The second part of the topics I dealt with was energy politics, about which I attended many functions within and outside the European Parliament. Consequently, I was able to extend my network and gain experience in socialising. On the one hand, my awareness of research and innovation has been increased considerably. On the other, my interest in energy and energy politics has grown. I was able to reconfirm the main focus of my future economics studies: energy policies.

The internship gave me the opportunity to deepen and improve my understanding of the EU and its institutions. The Parliament is not just the occasionally annoying appendage to the Commission and the Council. It can take important decisions, has a control function and puts an emphasis on the people-oriented role of the EU. The internship has also given me detailed insights into the legislative side of law-making, the co-ordination between the Commission, the Council and the Parliament as well as the daily running of the European Parliament. I was already very enthusiastic about the European project before starting the internship. It has grown even further now, making me an ambassador for European integration.

Finally, I would like to say a big thanks to Dr. Ehler for having given me this unique opportunity, which enabled me to get valuable experience. Particular thanks go to my colleagues in Brussels: Claudia Hoffmann, Talita Soares and Freya van Ellen. I would like to thank you for the warm welcome to the team, for your trust in me and for having given me important tasks to complete during my internship. I would also like to thank my fellow interns in Dr. Ehler’s office, as we were a good team. I would also like to stress the trusting co-operation with the constituency office in Potsdam. Its staff were always there for me when I needed help or advice. I can only recommend an internship at Dr. Ehler’s office.

I will never forget this period spent at the European Parliament, in the heart of Europe. I will always remember my internship and the great time I had in Brussels with fondness.

Christoph Schulze, Schöneiche bei Berlin