My name is Henry Mau and I spent my summer working for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. But hold on: What exactly is the Council of Europe? Often confused with “something from the European Union”, the CoE is actually not affiliated to the European Institutions. In fact, it is older (70 years) and has more members (48), including Russia and Turkey. It was the CoE that came up with the European flag and its anthem. Ever since its founding, the CoE has been operating in the fields of Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. The most notable institution that is part of the CoE is the European Court of Human Rights, where every citizen within the CoE’s jurisdiction can appeal to. But this is just, let’s say, the professional side of my journey in Strasbourg.
On a more personal note, moving to France for the summer let me experience the vibrant cultural melting pot that the so-called “European Capital” really is. Strasbourg, the largest city in France’s Alsace region, is a battleground of Europe’s bloody history and at the same time an uplifting symbol for the union of Europe. The European Union, a guarantor for peace among its member states for more than 70 years, is arguably one of the greatest achievements of humankind, a textbook example for intercultural understanding.
Myself an Italian-turned German, the mere fact of being able to cross the Franco-German border without stopping, let alone passport controls or an actually visible border check point, is just one of the countless benefits that the European Union provides for its citizens. But it certainly is enough to preserve the flame in my heart burning for the European integration project.
Henry Mau 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.