It is one month to the day that I arrived in Brussels, and for some reason I celebrated that by doing the Brussels half marathon. An exhausting (to say the least) but interesting and sort of fun way to see more of the city! I am definitely not looking forward to walking to work tomorrow. Also, one thing I learnt very quickly here is that the majority of food shops are shut on Sundays – so unfortunately this meant I had to Deliveroo my dinner, which I must not make a habit of. We can skip over that though to reflect on experiences of the past month.
I am not sure where to start really as I have been completely thrust into the work by attending events, trips to various EU institutions (including the Parliament and the Commission), trips to the CCBE (Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe) and I have even been back to the Law Society in England twice (one trip just for the day)! The Eurostar really is an amazing thing.
Starting from the beginning. I was the first trainee secondee to start at the office. The other 2 arrived over the coming 2 weeks. The UK Law Societies Joint Brussels Office shares a floor with other European representative organisations such as the Federal German Bar Association and the Austrian Chamber of Lawyers. So it is a very international environment all with the aim of representing the legal profession (with one exception - the Bundesarchitektenkammer eV (BAK) – that’s the Federation of German Architects to you and me).
Now we are all here we have divided up the relevant portfolios between us. Predominantly we are each working with one EU Policy Adviser in the office on a variety of portfolios. Most of my work will be on the areas of data protection, privacy, technology and assisting the Head of Office in her role as Information Officer and Brussels Representative for the CCBE.
Some notable moments of my time so far include attending the European Parliament in my first week for an event hosted by ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) on fake news in a post truth society. Sitting in the Parliament made me feel a rather nice sense of importance! There is a review of this event being published in the October edition of the Brussels Agenda which you can find here. Secondees are also responsible for editing this publication so in the coming months I will be choosing a theme for my edition and drafting content- keep your eyes peeled for that one!
Myself and the other secondees also attended a lunch time event hosted by the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas who reviewed the first half of its EU council presidency. We also got to meet Baroness Ros Scott, ALDE Party Vice-President who chaired the event.
Last week we attended a meeting of The Law Society’s EU Committee where I provided an update on the EU Transparency Register. This was a good opportunity to hear about relevant issues and meet key individuals from The Law Society. We then briefly attended the launch of the Global Legal Centre Campaign but unfortunately had to leave early for our train back to Brussels.
There has been a lot to get up to speed on, including the structure of The Law Society, how the different EU institutions work, re-freshing my knowledge of how EU law works and also getting to know the local political system. Needless to say I have spent a lot of time reading!
Overall, it has been a great experience so far and I am encouraged by the fact that the rest of the team want to ensure I have as valuable and beneficial experience as possible and are keen to expose us all to a wealth of work.