The ELP is about personal and professional growth. It opens a career pathway for those youngsters who want to become European leaders. It also gives them the possibility to decide how to manage their life in Brussels and define their learning process. The ELP involves commitment, effort, interest, curiosity, meeting deadlines, participation in sessions and discussions and community life. With the purpose of inaugurating the 3rd Cohort of the ELP, JESC interviewed two Fellows to dive through their impressions, expectations, ambitions and general thoughts linked to the Programme and their new life in Brussels, the EU Capital.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your motivation to apply to the ELP.
I am a PhD student about to complete my research in privacy and data protection law and qualify as a German lawyer. Currently, I work in the life sciences practice of a Brussels-based law firm. Before I worked as a lecturer in EU Law, as well as a trainee in the private practice of an international law firm and a German bank. I was looking forward to coming to Brussels because I wanted to get the perspective of the EU world and engage in its different dimensions and discussions. This broadens my horizon and enables me to see how the European Union can progress.
Q: How did you hear about the Programme?
One of my friends, who I met during my PhD studies, was in Brussels and when we got in touch he thought I could be interested in the ELP.
Q: Do you think your studies are suitable for this Programme and that the ELP could give you a further specialization?
ELP allows me to explore the political side of my legal studies. To engage with policymakers and the institutions that draft the laws that we have to follow. It allows me to understand the process and contextualize the law better.
Q: What is your opinion on the Programme’s structure?
Community life allows you to get an insight into how citizens from other EU member states think about the EU. This allows me to reflect on my perspective and the perspective of citizens from my home country. I can better understand why some national governments vote on the EU level in a certain way. From this dialogue, I can develop a more European perspective.
In order to build a Europe of values, we need to reflect on the impact the laws will have. Spirituality allows me to reflect on the social impact of the laws and advocate for more just solutions.
Q: What do you think of the combination of Knowledge & Spirituality?
First, it is important to keep those concepts apart and agree on a definition of what those two concepts mean. Knowledge is a rational concept and Spirituality is built on different ideas and ideals. However, Knowledge will only thrive and will allow us to progress if we apply certain aspects of Spirituality. In this respect, social justice can only be achieved if at a certain point we apply concepts of spirituality to the rationale of knowledge.
Q: What do you think about Volunteering?
Serving the community is central to society. Technological progress in some ways detaches us on a personal level. Our individual freedoms are constantly expanding, and this is good, we should all have a maximum amount of freedoms and liberties! However, if we want to continue to live in a democratic society with safeguards for all, we need to reflect on how we act right now and whether there is just the “I” that matters. If we lose sight of the collective that we depend on as human beings, we will fail society.
Volunteering in this respect is a great vehicle to get out of the “I” bubble and get a sense for the collective, the “us”.
Q: What do you aim to get out of this Programme?
The informal discussions and meetings with policymakers and the other fellows empower me to understand the insights of the EU. We need to communicate more openly about the functioning of the EU and its institutions to build trust. With a more robust understanding of those processes, a new set of leadership skills and insights on how to advocate for social justice on a European level, I can take more reasoned decisions.
Q: Three words to describe yourself?
explorative, humorous, open-minded
Q: What do you think will be the most challenging part of the Programme?
Staying focused and applying efficient time management skills.
Q: What part of the Programme you are looking forward to the most; meeting any speaker, a specific lecture, or activity?
The community life is exciting. You can have discussions with the other fellows over lunch, dinner or gardening and they are national experts. It’s a great opportunity to enhance your understanding and insights on how the population of those member states think about problems/challenges the EU is facing.
Q: What are your interests or hobbies external to the Programme?
I enjoy sailing and exploring different cultures. But what excites me most is mingling with locals in different places.
Q: Do you have any inspirational person or quote – as a cherry on the cake?
A quote I received in a fortune cookie: “Make this world a better place.”
Hermann Hesse: “You have to aim for the impossible if you want to achieve the possible.”
Konrad Adenauer: “Take people as they are: there isn’t anyone else.”
Interview of Bartholomäus Regenhardt
by Alba Requejo
JESC Content and Media Assistant