21 -23 June, 2010
Several Pandora’s boxes were opened up to members of the CIoJ who went on an information visit to Brussels in mid-June. Members went on a three-day visit to NATO, SHAPE and some of the European Union institutions. They had useful meetings with senior officials and informed specialists at each institution visited.
The visit concentrated on the defence of Europe and on how the different institutions co-operate to ensure Europe’s security.
Organised by CIoJ Brussels representative John Szemerey, the visit was made possible by specially low prices offered by Eurostar and by the Adagio aparthotel in central Brussels, and by the generosity of the European Parliament and NATO which gave grants to members of the visiting group to help them with costs.
At or after the visit most of the institutions to which the group went offered to put CIoJ members on their mailing lists relating to different policy areas so they could follow developments in the EU and at NATO and SHAPE in fields that interested them and on which they normally write or report.
The CIoJ visit included a whole day at NATO, meeting senior officials and also having a discussion session with a panel of three top members of the UK mission to NATO. This was followed by a half day visit to SHAPE at Mons, in South Belgium. SHAPE is the military organisation that in fact executes most NATO decisions.
In the EU institutions the visiting group had meetings with spokesmen for the new President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, and of the new EU Foreign Minister, Catherine Ashton, officially known as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The visit finished with half a day at the European Parliament thanks to Sarah Ludford MEP, who officially sponsored the CIoJ’s visit and to our affiliate member, Mary Honeyball, MEP, who helped arrange a session with representatives of five of the EP’s political groups.
“Three days in Brussels is too short to see and hear everything,” says the outgoing chairman of the CIoJ’s international division, John Szemerey, “but it showed us some key changes in the EU, following the Lisbon Treaty. And we saw how NATO and SHAPE have altered their policies and activities following the end of the Cold War to continue protecting Europe from external attacks, either by force or via the Internet.”