Brussels and Brexit

It’s a strange feeling to be incidentally on the doorsteps of history today. We’re on this diplomatic tour of the European Union and happen to be in town as British Prime Minister Theresa May sent the letter to European Council President Donald Tusk invoking the Article 50 separation. The EU officially received notice today that Britain will exit the union (or Brexit).

In the Press Club over lunch watching Prime Minister Theresa May address the British Parliament

What a day to be here! There were reporters all around Brussels today for this announcement. There was no room for us to join the press conference due to the amount of credentialed press for this historic event. Instead, we stood in the Press Club during lunch to watch May give her speech to parliament, then Tusk hold a press conference addressing what essentially amounts to receiving divorce papers from the U.K.

 

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Welcome to Brussels: An introduction to the European Union

Hello and Greetings from Brussels, Belgium, the home of the European Union!

I’m here on a tour sponsored by the European Union Delegation to the United States for graduate students in journalism to learn more about what it does and its relations with the United States. It has already been a fascinating trip and we’re only on day one. I would like to share with you some of my reflections from this trip so far. (Note: I want to point out these thoughts that I share are my personal reflections and not necessarily those of the EU.)

American and EU flag pin

It’s an interesting time to be visiting the EU as Britain is trying to exit the European Union. Meanwhile, Saturday was the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Romewhich established an economic community between six member countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. This economic partnership set the ground work for what developed into the European Union which now consists of 28 member countries — soon to be 27 when the UK “Brexits” (British exit).

Britain’s vote to leave the EU has left many pundits speculating about the future of the organization. But it seems European Council President Donald Tusk’s speech in Rome this weekend commemorating the anniversary has helped calm some nerves.

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So much winning! Is everyone tired of winning?

With all the winning in D.C. this week, it’s hard to believe we could win any bigger. But, I have some great news! Just in time for my latest podcast, Politics in Polite Company has finally made it on iTunes! Make sure you subscribe!

This week—I’m talking to Joy Namunoga with the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda. Yep! We’re calling Joy in Uganda to talk to her about corruption and what she learned while she was a U.S. State Department fellow. We worked together at the Sunlight Foundation and I thought you might enjoy hearing her perspective. I wrote last week about my experience with these programs and I thought you might benefit from hearing from somebody who is not an American.

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The unexpected gift

When the box showed up at my desk with a return address from Mexico, I was nervous. Should I open this? Just a month earlier, the floor above ours was shut down after someone sent an anthrax threat to a group with ties to a certain presidential candidate’s family charity.

Would it be safe to open it?

I hesitated. I didn’t recognize the name on the return address for the rather large box. It wasn’t suspicious in any way—just was unexpected. I think I told my coworkers to call 911 if anything went wrong as I cut open the box.

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The more you know: Immigration executive orders, Consular Affairs and visas

Yesterday morning, the Trump administration introduced a new executive order (to replace the previous one) addressing visa applicants from (now) six countries. Not long after, I walked into my Diplomatic Practice class and learned we were having a guest speaker: Ambassador Michelle Bond, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.

Man, living in D.C. is weird sometimes when certain people cross your path at the right moment.

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