As part of the seven weeks I spent in Brussels, I interned at the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), a think tank which focuses on fostering dialogue between EU member states and EU neighboring countries – especially including both European and non-European civil society actors – in an effort to strengthen a common EU foreign policy framework and Neighborhood Policy (ENP).
Through the tasks and projects I was assigned at ENC, I was able to further deepen my knowledge of the internal institutional functioning of the EU and its policy making process. Hoping to one day become a practitioner in the field of international politics and a policymaker at the EU level ideally working for the European External Action Service (EEAS), I found it especially useful, for example, to become closer acquainted with the fundamentals of the EU’s foreign policy framework and its substance and to conduct research on the Central Asian region and the EU’s strategy in the area.
Also, by attending either ENC-organized events or other talks around Brussels, I had the opportunity to listen to, meet and network with very interesting experts from other think tanks and professionals from the EU institutions.
Additionally, as part of the Program, SU Abroad also organized weekly talks with professionals from the foreign service and public diplomacy fields and other European think tanks (including US foreign service officers, a former NATO spokesperson and EU officials). These talks were a great addition and complement to the internship, and expanded my personal knowledge on issues of EU politics and the Union’s policy approach to them.
My favorite among these SU Abroad-organized events was our visit at the EEAS, which is basically the EU’s Foreign Ministry and the headquarters of EU diplomacy and an agency where I hope to be employed someday in the future.
All of this was framed in the vibrant, stimulating and fun city of Brussels (with a Washington D.C.-like atmosphere by day and the charm of a European capital by night) and the country of Belgium, which is so rich in culture and whose cities and towns (or abbeys, where the famous and delicious trappist beer is brewed) are definitely worth exploring.
Federico Ohle is a student in the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program, where he will complete a Master of Arts in International Relations at the Maxwell School in Syracuse, NY and a Master of Public Policy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. While studying in Berlin, Federico is further interning at the German Council on Foreign Relations.