Tag Archives: EU

Amery Sanders, LGBTI Rights at European Parliament

Amery Sanders is a MAIR student focusing on human rights.

From May 25th through July 14th, I lived and worked in Brussels as part of Syracuse University’s Public Diplomacy program.  While not a Public Diplomacy student myself—I’m a graduate student pursuing the MA International Relations (MAIR) degree—I chose the Brussels program for its abundance of opportunities in my interest areas of human rights, diplomacy, and international NGO work.  I was incredibly fortunate enough to secure an internship at the Brussels seat of the European Parliament, one of the three core legislative institutions of the European Union.  I served as a trainee in the office of dynamic Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Amery Sanders’ last day at work, below the third-floor bridge of the EU Parliament bearing the official institutional logo

I reached out to MEP Pietikäinen’s office because of her work in the leadership of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, a coordinated cross-party effort by MEPs to advance and support the rights of LGBTI people.  As a queer graduate student with a professional and academic focus in international transgender human rights, securing a place in her office meant I was able to work right at the heart of the European Union’s LGBTI-centric activities while also gaining in-depth understanding of EU institutional and legislative work.

During my seven weeks in Brussels, I split my time between doing administrative work for the MEP, working with Intergroup Secretariat Juliette Sanchez-Lambert, and doing research around the MEP’s special interest areas of queer freedom of movement, employment discrimination, partner and family rights, health care discrimination, and asylum rights.  I attended Parliament events around LGBTI issues and was privileged to be able to attend the 7th European Transgender Council, an annual conference hosted by TGEU, the largest transnational member organization of transgender activists in Europe.  Over the course of the internship I worked to develop a reference packet on individual LGBTI topics, to be used by MEPs and other officials as a resource guide in the lead up to the 2019 parliamentary elections.  Of especial significance to me personally, I was asked to give critical feedback on the Fundamental Rights Agency’s EU LGBT Survey; my critiques and suggestions were taken to a Vienna meeting to help determine the structure and content of the next version of the survey.

Materials from the 7th European Transgender Council, including their Strategic Plan, self-critical Anti-Activity Report, policy supporting sex workers, and guide for working with the United Nations

Brussels was a city both beautiful and politically complex, and I was deeply satisfied by my time there—by the work I was able to do, the connections I was able to make, and the knowledge I was able to gain.  I feel like I was able to get exactly the glimpse “behind the curtain” of transnational LGBTI-centric rights work that I have heretofore been unable to access.  It’s re-energized me in a way I could only have hoped for, and which I think will serve me well as I go forward in my academics and my career.

Exterior view of the European Parliament building in Brussels–or at least one small corner of it!

Public Diplomacy Internships in Brussels Program

Maxwell’s MAIR Degree

Kevin Oswald Explores European Energy Diversity at Student Conference

Kevin Oswald is a recent alumni of the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree program, completing an MAIR degree from the Maxwell School and an MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He also completed internships at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington D.C. and Agora Energiewende in Berlin during his studies.

Kevin Oswald at ESC 2018

From March 29 to 31, 2018 I had the opportunity to participate in the European Student Conference (ESC) 2018 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. ESC is a conference organized by European Horizons that brought together 100 undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the United States, Europe and Asia with distinguished academics and seasoned policy-makers in order to address some of the challenges confronting the European Union.Prior to the conference, students from different parts of the world and with different academic backgrounds, had been divided into groups, according to their knowledge and interests, in order to deal with the following challenges in six workshops related to: Energy, Technology, EU-China, Democracy, National Sovereignty and Security. Each group then made an effort to develop policy recommendations with regard to their topic and during the conference those proposals by the students were discussed with decision-makers and renowned academics. This year, ESC hosted representatives from business, politics and diplomacy, such as the former President of the European Parliament, Enrique Barón Crespo, as well as several academics from US universities.

Enrique Barón Crespo at ESC 2018 speaking during the opening session in the auditorium of Yale University

As a student enrolled in the transatlantic ATLANTIS dual-degree Master program in International Relations and Public Policy offered by the Maxwell School and the Hertie School of Governance, I am particularly interested in foreign and security policy as well as in energy and climate policy. Therefore, I took part in the energy workshop and together with fellow students worked on the issue of the EU’s dependency on energy imports, particularly natural gas, in order to meet its demand. Given the fact that a high proportion of imports is concentrated among relatively few partners, the security of the EU’s natural gas supplies may be threatened. Our team provided a solid analysis of the status quo and presented several policy recommendations with the primary goals to diversify supply sources (new pipelines, interconnectors, LNG etc.) and to utilize soft tools, which, for instance, might require setting up an EU Energy Diplomacy Task Force to deal with delicate pipeline projects such as Nord Stream 2.

I was impressed with the expertise and dedication of our group and look forward to seeing our recommendations being published in the Review of European and Transatlantic Affairs, a journal that will be distributed to university libraries across Europe and the U.S., as well as to European decision-makers.

In sum, ESC 2018 has been a wonderful experience and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with fellow students that all have a passion for the EU. In addition, I hope to become part of the international ESC network that links thinkers and leaders from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

Energy Working Group at ESC 2018

Kevin Oswald Interns at the German Embassy in Washington, DC

Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program

The Maxwell School

The Hertie School of Governance