I’ve been working at the European Commission for over a month now, and it’s great. I even had a security conference to not post anything about the inner workings about it on the internet. If you’re reading this, then I’ll probably be in jail by now.
It’s fascinating in Brussels, because it’s such a big institution doing big things. It does so many things, and employs so many people, that you understand why change is slow, change is gradual, and it makes you appreciate what is there already and what improvements need to be made. For example, where I work, they do international cooperation with countries all around the world, making real change in peoples lives, and it’s really quite nice. i’ve lerant things I never thought existed. They talk about ‘White Papers’ that will change Europe forever. Little do they know nobody cares. However, there are moments I witness during work hours that I call ‘Nigel Moments’, moments where you think I wish Nigel Farage was here to witness such shocking things you find out. ‘You really spent HOW much on facebook advertising during the economic crash of 2009?’ I thought to myself.
It’s not all bad. They do a lot of good things, that will probably never see the light of day. There is always and underlying tone to everything I do, I say, and wherever I go. ‘I’m from England, unfortunately’, I say awaiting the laughs, some do partake, but most just do it out of pity, as they (as well as I) am pretty sure it means I won’t be getting a job like theirs in the near future. Once people realise I’m English, it changes the way they look at me. There’s definitely a sense of pity in there somewhere. In my sector (so, the floor of my office), I’m the only native speaker of English. It helps. I get to read through every important document that passes through as I have to grammar check it. Having read this far through this post, you now realise how laughable it is that I’m the final point of call for a grmmar cheque. I’m also the official Brexit spokesperson in my office, any sort of news even a little bit related to Brexit, the office asks me my official opinion. If only they know how unpatriotic I am and how little I know about what goes on, because I’m in Brussels. However, I do work at the EU, so it’s pretty obvious isn’t it?
On Wednesday the 29th of March, or as some people ‘affectionately’ called it ‘B-Day’ was the day Britain triggered article 50, to leave the European Union. I, being a little cocky and arrogant, thought I could walk into the press conference with the European Council President Donald Tusk. Yeah, right. Nonetheless, I took a late lunch break, and I walked over to the building, showed my crappy pass that says in clear capital letters STAGIARE just so the security guards make you go through security (none of my co-workers do) and check my haircut is the same, and well, I smooth talk the security guard, by asking him where the press conference is, and he politely tells me where to go. Like directions and everything. I walk in, and sit in the centre seat at the back next to the awaiting cameras. The previous meetings I’d been to with important people reassured my English colleagues that English will remain the dominant language in the EU, which is lucky for lazy English people. However, I thought this was about to change, because I looked in the Interpreting booth, and I could see English, German and French. But, I was wrong, everything was in English. Even the French spoke English. I had the misfortune of sitting in-between some of the English written journalists.
The two on the left, sounded so posh, and so aristocratic, discussing the intricacies of the triggering of article 50 it was almost like a comedy scene. If only they wrote 1% of what they were saying, the news might actually be a little more informative, but i couldn’t find anything of the sort. To my right, was young-ish man with an ‘accent’. You know, someone from the villages, like Manchester (I imagine the men on the right thinking that). From what I gathered watching him during the time I was there, he had one mission. Be negative about the EU. He made it seem like a breeze. He did a radio interview before, making the arrival of a letter sound like a bombshell that the EU was not ready for. It was so unprepared, the same man was at the organised press conference response 15 minutes later. He was alongside his producer and camera man, both of them clearly bored the ‘man with the accent’ with technical information. Donald Tusk walked onto the stage he said his prepared two minutes speech, which was quite emotional. ‘What else can I add to this? We’ll miss you.’ It was one of the more emotional moments in politics, he seemed like he cared, which is rare in these sorts of occasions. The minute he was off the stage the man beside me was back to it. ‘May has caught them out’ ‘May is stronger than EU combined’ ‘EU trembling at knees because Brexit’. It was like this man was on a different planet to me. Maybe it’s because I’m in the ‘Brussels Bubble’.
I walked outside, to see the 7 TV cameras all lined up in a row, ready for the six o’ clock news in their respective countries. My favourite was one TV channel’s political correspondent asked a simple question to the present off air, and he replied ‘I don’t know, I just read the lines’. One reporter (who should know better) kept on walking over to a delivery van to check his appearance in a removal van’s wing mirror. But most surprisingly, this high tech delivery, with all these wires and satellites, is that the most important things, news collections, countdown to going live, is all almost down to mobile phones. Journalists know just as much as we do, but they just have a really nice camera.
I went back to work, from that exciting lunch. I was hungry, but I’d seen history be made. On the 29th of March, 1936, Adolf Hitler received 99% of the votes in a referendum to ratify Germany’s illegal remilitarization and reoccupation of the Rhineland, receiving 44.5 million votes out of 45.5 million registered voters.
Who knew referendums were such a bad idea?