As most of you probably know, ten non-DGT trainees were in Brussels for the Farewell Conference last Friday. Thus, while the great part of trainees were attending a conference on translation, the tiny group was left in Schuman roundabout where they would meet Dr. Theodoros Kallianos, Professor of European Integration at the University of Bonn. I was in the small expedition with the Greek warlord, and the mission was to get a better understanding of the Lisbon Treaty.
We were supposed to meet the professor in front of the Info Point in Rue D’Archimede, but he finally asked to meet somewhere else, not far from there. Please come to the Schuman Statue, near the park. I want to meet you there first, there is something I have to tell you.
At that point, a mix of curiosity and nuisance lingered in the group, but we walked there puzzled. We arrived at the statue where a small bust in the beginning of the Parc du Cinquantenaire faced toward Rue de la Loi and the European Quarter, and an energetic man approached us, shaking everyone hands and presenting himself in a friendly manner. After the greetings, he began his speech, standing behind Schuman, in the semicircle garden around the statue.
Once I made an experiment: I stood in the middle of Schuman roundabout and I started asking my colleagues from the institutions rushing from one place to another, where the Schuman statue was, and if they could show me the way. Well, no one knew. “It’s here”, someone answered, and I “No, this is the circus, I am looking for the statue!”, and they stared at me like I were an alien, walking away in rush. Only one lady, after half an hour was able to tell me that the statue was not far, near the park. It is very weird, because this is the point where everything started, where the past (the Second World War represented by the Arc) and the future (represented by the European Quarter) meet. It is a symbolic place for Europe, and it is important to remember.
The speech was very good, and it really gave a piece of historic information that was missing in our picture, in a way that we would never forget.
After that Dr. Kallianos, brought us to the Documentation Centre and he gave a speech about the Lisbon Treaty. Once again, he was not pleonastic and academic, but rather pragmatic and concrete, explaining the importance of the Treaty in a way that we had never heard.
He explained the prominent changes it brought in the functioning of the European Institutions, such as moving from unanimity to a qualified majority and a more powerful European Parliament forming a bicameral legislature alongside the Council of Ministers under the ordinary legislative procedure. Furthermore, the Treaty gave member states for the first time an explicit legal right to leave the EU and a procedure to do so.
Albeit the subject was quite complex, Dr Kallianos was able to explain it in a very simple and easy way, showing also critical points and rooms for improving European decision-making process. If cooperation was the main purpose of creating the European Union, it can be reached only with common rules and shared procedures.
It was a very important lesson about Europe that we are grateful to have attended.
Thank you Dr. Kallianos from the Luxembourg Blue Book Trainees – Spring Session 2015!