Spring semester is over, the campus is becoming emptier every day, the number of squirrels that have fun in tree tops is slowly prevailing the number of remaining students. These are inevitable signs that once children finish school, we are packing and leaving Miami.
That gives me an opportunity to publish probably my last post written in my EU Fellow capacity, sum up my year in US and express my profound gratitude to everyone who made it possible.
The EU Fellowship programme is an excellent project that provides a structure for research and outreach activities and, at the same time, leaves a lot of freedom for each EU Fellow to fill it with own ideas and tailor it to the fellow needs and expectations.
I feel grateful that 5 different institutions (3 universities, elementary school and a public entity supporting local SMEs) gave me an opportunity to speak about the European Union, its policies, and yes, also problems. I felt privileged to share my views on topics I master rather well and felt committed to learn quickly to be able to present my position on topics that don’t necessarily belong to the first category, such as EU and Western Balkan, or Middle East.
I was very happy to offer my experience to students that were looking for materials for their papers on EU topics and provided my comments on a number of papers written by students attending EU seminars.
I greatly benefited from the unique possibility and audited two seminars in a student capacity. That helped me to understand very well the way the US Congress operates and enhance my knowledge of the World Trade Organisation and in particular its documents, what is prerequisite for any serious research on TTIP.
I heard many times that Miami is a US gate to the Central and South America and now understand what does it mean in terms of business between these parts of Americas and in in terms of multicultural mixture of people that is very much present in Miami. All that gave me an opportunity to interact with interesting personalities and understand the Americas better. I can say that it was unique speaking to students from Nicaragua or Argentina that were asking about the experience of Slovakia with the EU membership. Many of us from EU consider the successful regional integration facilitated by EU as a matter of course, many people from Central or South America dream of their ‘EU’ that would bring to their countries and families hope for peace and better life.
As well as benefiting greatly from all opportunities available at the University of Miami, thanks to my children and their school and after school activities, I had a chance to understand the US education system, liaise with teachers and other families and find friends. Combined with the ongoing presidential campaign, (and of course NHL and NBA play-offs), these are all fragments that help a lot to make up your mind on the country and understand better its culture. You can probably achieve much of that in a tourist capacity, but the resident status gives you quite a different perspective.
Even more than all that what is written above, I appreciated the fact that I had time to think and focus on my paper that is being finalised these days and counts nearly 100 pages. Once the relevant institutional procedures are completed, I will be delighted to present my research on the basis of which I am convinced that EU would benefit from the European Parliament’s full right of legislative initiative that would enable political groups to trigger legislative process with all legal consequences that such a change would entail.
I also believe that the way EP is involved in defining the EU negotiation mandate for free trade agreements, such as TTIP, needs to change. Rather than maintaining the status quo when Council adopts official negotiation directives and EP formulates its recommendations for Commission, it is the time to speak with one voice on the basis of a document adopted jointly by both branches of the EU legislative body.
These conclusions are not based on a premise ‘if it is possible in the United States, we can do that too’. They stem from constitutional traditions of the EU member states, case studies, analysis of EU and US texts and observation of the US and EU ‘space’. I must admit that looking at EU from outside provides a different perspective.
Those who watched the last Oscar award ceremony saw that ‘thank you’ passages are being shortened to minimum as they are boring for spectators and make the show very long. I therefore hope that despite that ‘trend’ I will still keep your attention when thanking at least to some of those who made my stay on the other side of Atlantic possible.
Without the EU Fellowship program and all people who are in charge of its ‘details’ it would not be possible to start thinking about such an opportunity. Without the support of my institution that participates in and funds the programme and without support of my Director General, my Director and all colleagues who cover me during my absence, I wouldn’t move very far in fulfilling my dream. Without the receiving university and personal engagement of the EU Center Director in Miami who opened me doors at a number of places at the university and beyond, I would not be able to settle quickly and use all the potential offered by the place. Without my family who supports me in everything I do and joined me and went through ‘torture’ implied by the resettlement, I wouldn’t be able to pack my stuff in Brussels and just disappear for a year.
I would also like to thank to all those who followed the posts that I manage to publish on this web. The page was viewed the most in Belgium. I wonder who looked at it on Taiwan or in South Korea or in other 32 countries that appear under statistics. I hope you were not bored.
I can easily continue and make this post twice as long just with ‘Thank you’. I nevertheless hope that those who are not directly or indirectly mentioned will understand and forgive me.
Despite the awesome year and everything what Miami offers, I am very much looking forward to our return, hope that I can bring back not only fresh energy and manpower with recharged batteries but also new ideas. In that spirit I don’t see myself in a moment when something nice is coming to the end but rather in a point when something new is beginning.