European Parliament Events: Autumn 2012

The European Parliament’s office in London is running a series of regional events around England during Autumn 2012. These cover topics being looked at by the Parliament, and provide people with an opportunity to bring a local and regional voice to the debate. Forthcoming events include:

Friday 19 October: Discussion and debate " The Agenda for Skills and Learning: Regional Responses, European Challenges". Venue: Embleton Hotel, nr Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9YA, from 12.00 noon-3.00 p.m., lunch included.

Friday 23 November: Business Seminar “Getting Regulation Right”. Venue: University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AL, from 08.30 a.m.-10.30 a.m.

Friday 23 November: Lunchtime Business Seminar "Sowing the Seeds of the new CAP". Venue: National Farmers Union office, Agriculture House, Pynes Hill, Rydon Lane, Exeter, EX2 5ST, 12.30-2.30 p.m., lunch included.

Saturday 24 November: European Parliament public event/walkabout. Venue: Exeter Christmas Market, cathedral precinct, 10.00 a.m. - 12 noon

Monday 3 December: Business Breakfast Seminar: “The European Agenda for SW Business”. Venue: Winford Manor Hotel nr Bristol Airport, 08.00-10.00 a.m.

For more details and to book a place, please contact Aidan Stradling . Events are being facilitated in association with partners, including Andrew H Robinson Associates and Europe Direct. For details of previous events in Newcastle, Durham and Preston, please contact us.

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Making European policy

Seaside tourism

Eastern Europe in focus

Developing policy across Central and Eastern Europe during 2011, I had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people. It reminded me also that you cannot lump all the countries in the region together – they are as different as they can be.

In Estonia, I had the chance to meet the Board of a Christian voluntary organisation and to tour a metal-working factory. I was helping develop plans for a permanent kids’ holiday campsite to be built out in the countryside near the Baltic coast. The planning process for this included detailing and researching options, consulting stakeholders and designing project models.

In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Serbia, I was working on a multinational programme identifying projects to go forward to global funders. Each country had different needs that these projects addressed, such as in Croatia, where a ‘father and son’ project aimed to repair some of the social divisiveness that the war in the ex-Yugoslavia had caused. The focus in Serbia was on disabled teenagers, and in Hungary on reaching out to children in small towns and villages in rural areas.

During several visits to Romania, I worked closely on a number of practical issues with a Christian voluntary organisation, including business planning, policy development procedures and personnel. We also looked at effective ways of working with a Board of a voluntary body and facilitating decision-making and internal communications.

In Moldova, I slept in an ex-Soviet Army tent on a campsite near the Nistru river. Here I learnt of the barriers and difficulties Moldovans face in getting things done. We were putting together plans for a low-ropes obstacle course and a canoe and kayak adventure centre on land with need for delineation, decision-making and documentation.

Legal ownership of land continues to be an area of frustration and confusion in many parts of the former USSR twenty years on. In Ukraine, I worked with colleagues on unpicking some of the complexities that often thwart straightforward policy development and project planning. Seeing the site for myself and meeting the people involved was invaluable in understanding the situation and helping find solutions.

In 2012, I hope to spend more time in the region, meeting inspiring people and seeing beneficial projects.

Do you, or would you like to, run operations in Central or Eastern Europe or Russia? Could I help? Call Aidan Stradling on +44 (0) 789 506 6823 or go to the Contacts page for e-mail.

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Zagreb climbing wall

Vorzel camp, Ukraine

Severin camp, Croatia


Special Events: June 2011

Four special events took place in North East England in June 2011. They were part of the European Parliament’s Regional Discussion Forum series, and were organised by our Policy Angel Network and Europe Direct at Durham County Council.

Thursday 23 June: Special Lecture "Research Results Renaissance" given by a senior representative of the European Commission. Venue: Newcastle University, from 5.30-6.30 p.m., followed by a dinner.

Friday 24 June: Young People’s Question Time. Venue: Durham Town Hall, from 10.00 a.m.-12.00 noon

Friday 24 June: Lunchtime Business Seminar "Greening the Economy". Venue: Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham, 12.30-2.00 p.m.

Friday 24 June: “Get Involved” European Parliament and House of Commons workshop event. Venue: Durham Town Hall, from 1.00-5.00 p.m.

Documents from the events are available. If you would like to receive any, please contact Aidan Stradling in respect of the Special Lecture or the Business Seminar, or Europe Direct for the Young People's Question Time and the Get Involved workshop.

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Policy Angel Network


Developing policy in Romania

Business planning and project management are important activities in their own right. In Romania recently, we worked with two local organisations to get these processes underway. It was done as part of a wider policy development process, which enabled the business plan, co-operation agreement and schedule of work to all fit together.

As well as meetings, discussions and a site visit, we also undertook background research into Romanian government schemes that could support the activities, providing practical help. Our client received a full report and recommendations.

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Site visit

Publication update

An article by Aidan Stradling has recently appeared in the journal Political Reflection, published by the strategic research and analysis group CESRAN. The article looks at England’s disappearing regions and is available here. The article appears on page 45.

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Political Reflection, March 2011

Hungary for success

Every year, Scripture Union Hungary runs several week-long summer clubs for Hungarian children in towns and villages across the country. Kids get to play games, make things, act and sing, all in a Christian context. Particularly popular are the English language clubs, in which children do all those fun things and get to learn some English too. Volunteers are being sought to help with this, and Aidan Stradling Consultancy is supporting this work.

To find out more, and to sign up, visit Scripture Union’s Frontline Hungary web pages.

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Szentírás Szövetség

Boldog Új Évet!

I’ve always liked the sound of the Hungarian language. It both sings and flows with a viscosity akin to that of the Bull’s Blood wine whose origin it shares.

From 1 January 2011, many more people across Europe will have the chance to hear the mellifluous tones of this unique language as Hungary begins its first ever stint in the EU Presidency chair.

According to sources in Brussels and Budapest, Hungary is promising an ambitious programme of action and new legislation. High on its agenda are the new economic stability measures, as well as a focus on energy issues. But Ministers in all policy areas will be hoping to make progress on their items of business.

As is usual, many events and conferences will be taking place in the Presidency country. These are detailed on the Hungarian Presidency website. The Hungarians will also host a range of non-official activities more of interest to the voluntary or business sectors.

So now is a good time to focus on working with Hungarian partners. Our link here at the Policy Angel Network is with the Innotica Group based in Budapest. They offer a range of eLearning, knowledge management and organisational development services. Together we’d be happy to put together a proposal tailored to deliver your priorities or find project partners.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the title of this piece, it's pronounced 'boldog-ooey-ayvet' and means Happy New Year!

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Briefings for airport operators

When the EU recently announced a new policy on generating tourism, a number of opportunities arose for airport operators around the UK. Having alerted key airport management personnel through a structured briefing, Aidan Stradling Consultancy was able to offer extended briefings and advice on implementation and access to EU funding and support. As is often the case, this involves working in partnership with local and regional organisations, a function we are happy to facilitate. With more details on the EU proposals expected at the European Tourism Forum later in the year, airports are able to use our Policy Angel Network conference service to ensure they get a full briefing on the benefits available, as well as an opportunity to influence and shape the EU’s policy as it develops. For more information, airport management teams can contact us here or call 0789 506 6823.

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Paris CDG Terminal E

Democracy and good governance


There are, so it seems, quite a few Russian-speakers in Newcastle and Gateshead. Several of them were on hand to welcome Russian-speaking Ukrainian Yevgen Chygrynskyy, who was here as part of a fellowship programme at the John Smith Memorial Trust. Yevgen’s excellent English-language skills prevailed, however, as he met leaders and representatives in Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland during his two-day stay. The visit here was organised by Aidan Stradling Consultancy as part of his five-week fellowship with over 20 other potential future leaders from several of the former Soviet republics.

Yevgen is Head of the International Relations and Protocol Department at the Sevastopol City State Administration. Sevastopol is a port city in Ukraine located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula.

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Policy Angel Seminar: Lisbon Explained

Monday 24 May, Jeffrey Maughan writes:

Located within the intimate yet dignified confines of the Lecture Theatre of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, the ‘Lisbon Explained’ seminar was the first in a series of free events aimed at explaining the important changes contained within the Lisbon Treaty to a professional audience, from the perspective of North East England.

The event provided an opportunity for a mixed audience of practitioners and professionals in the public, private and voluntary sectors to hear Michael Shackleton, Head of the European Parliament UK office, and Dr Andrew Robinson, the Honorary Consul of France in Newcastle, speak on their understanding of how Lisbon has affected the balance between institutions at local, national and EU level.

A lively debate then followed, which allowed attendees to discuss their understanding of how Lisbon affected their work, as well as to raise and discuss additional questions, such as implications for lobbying, as well as possibilities for exploiting new opportunities for regional engagement.

To suggest a topic for a future event, and to find out more about how to make the Lisbon Treaty changes work for you and for your organisation, contact us here or call 0789 506 6823.

Jeffrey Maughan is a Policy Angel Network expert covering communications, research and lobbying.

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Mining and Mechanical Engineers’ Institute Lecture Theatre Newcastle

Michael Shackleton, Head of the EP Office, London

Barcelona scores regional goal

Across Europe, local authorities, regional governments and municipalities are busy implementing EU laws and regulations. Many of these were decided upon by national governments coming together in the European Council, with significant input from the European Parliament. Helping local and regional civil servants to get the most out of their avenues of influence in Brussels was the subject of a recent seminar organised by the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) at its Centre for the Regions in Barcelona.

Together with other speakers, I gave a presentation on a particular aspect of the process. The Centre for the Regions in Barcelona is one of four EIPA centres, the others being in Luxembourg (for judges and lawyers), Warsaw (for public financial management) and the headquarters in Maastricht. Details of future activities are on the EIPA website.

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Volcanic ash clouds mission

Despite a necessarily convoluted journey, Icelander Petur Stefansson made it to Newcastle recently on the tails of the volcanic ash cloud. He was one of several officials from British Embassies across the Nordic and Baltic countries to take part in a UK Trade and Investment event highlighting opportunities for British firms in those countries.

We discussed potential co-operation with Icelandic organisations, as well as Iceland’s long-standing honorary consular representation in North East England.

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European Youth Parliament

Young people from across North East England came to Durham recently to take part in an international debating competition. The European Youth Parliament held the regional heat of its annual international debating competition in Durham Town Hall on Wednesday 3 March 2010. Teams of Year 12 pupils from across the region took on the role of European parliamentary committees, going head-to-head to debate a range of issues from nuclear proliferation to climate change. The winning team, from St Benet Biscop School in Bedlington, Northumberland, impressed the judges, who included young people who had taken part in past European Youth Parliament debating events. The winners will now go on to the UK national session in September, and possibly represent the country internationally.

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French consul receives Legion of Honour

North East England benefits from diplomatic links with other countries through its corps of honorary consuls. The French Legion of Honour was recently awarded to Dr Andrew Robinson in recognition of his work as French honorary consul for North East England and Cumbria. It was presented to him at Newcastle's Mansion House by the French Ambassador to the UK. I have been lucky enough to work with Andrew on many occasions, including on the Regional Language Network and through the European Consular and Commercial Office, and warmly congratulate him on his award.

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Andrew Robinson (centre)

North East Economic Forum

The governance structures in the English regions have changed. Sectors of industry, the economy and society now need to plan and consult in a different way. The recent North East Economic Forum asked the question: Will this help the economy? I attended the meeting, which was chaired by Hugh Morgan-Williams. Hugh has also taken on the role of chair of the Northern Way, a body that brings together the regional development agencies for the three northern English regions.

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NE Economic Forum

National Fraud Authority

Gateshead was the venue for the recent regional summit held by the National Fraud Authority. The event brought together experts at tackling fraud from the public and private sectors. The NFA showcased its plans and priorities, on which participants were consulted. I attended in my role as a policy development practitioner. A report is available on the NFA website.

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Trade and Investment with Turkey

HM Consul General in Istanbul, Jessica Hand, was recently in North East England as part of a UK tour to encourage British trade and investment with Turkey. I met her to discuss potential activities with Turkish partners and was able to let her know about the active consular network here. Turkey is an active participant in the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and is working towards eventual EU membership. Jessica is also the director of UKTI in Turkey, and her visit to North East England was arranged by UKTI’s international trade office here.

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European Parliament

In an interview published on the website of the European Parliament’s UK office in London, I explain how regions can work with the EU institutions. Local authorities in England, and regional governments in other parts of the UK and across Europe, can influence EU legislation before it is made, so it properly reflects local needs and priorities.

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European Parliament

Influencing EU legislation

I’ve worked for many years as a support officer to members of the EU’s Committee of the Regions. I was in Brussels recently to work with one of North East England’s members who was presenting a report, officially known as an Opinion. Such Opinions are used to give the views of Europe’s regional governments and local authorities on legislation proposed by the European Commission. Opinions are meant to influence the European Parliament and member state governments. Examples of local authority comments on EU legislative proposals are on the CoR documents website.

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CoR interior

Explaining Westminster and Brussels

Staff at government agencies around the UK work hard to implement EU Regulations and Directives in their particular areas of policy. Over recent months, I have been involved in presenting a range of seminars/workshops run by Westminster Explained, the training arm of the UK parliament’s House Magazine. One aim was to give a broad overview of the history and context in which the EU operates and takes decisions; and, importantly, to identify how UK government agencies can play a part in influencing, consulting and contributing to those decisions. Other events focussed on policy development, and were specifically tailored for the participating government agency staff.

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On the border

This stone pillar marks where the frontiers of three countries meet. In this case, it is the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. While these countries’ borders meet at a very accessible location (there is a bus service, cafés and a children’s play area), other international boundaries around the world can be on rather more inaccessible mountain ranges, deserts or rivers. Where boundaries have historically not been clearly delineated, conflicts can arise. Durham University hosts the world-renowned International Boundaries Research Unit, which provides practical expertise in boundary-making, border management and territorial dispute resolution, as well as academic leadership in the study of boundaries and their impact on international relations. A report of my visit is on the IBRU website, and has been included in the official United Nations tripoint registry yearbook.

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French navy visit

The French naval vessel Le Pluvier recently moored on the Tyne. The French Honorary Consul in Newcastle, Dr Andrew Robinson, handled the visit, and I was pleased to be involved. Le Pluvier’s Captain Cocrelle is pictured here paying a call on Newcastle’s then Lord Mayor, Councillor David Wood. The region’s European Consular and Commercial Office (see Partner Consultants) in Newcastle supports the work of diplomatic missions in this way, as well as providing a central point of contact in the region for linked commercial activity.

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French Navy