Speech by former MEP Marije CORNELISSEN during the 21st Intensive Seminar on the EU


Constructive discussions, debates, seminars, films, dinners and networking. These, amongst many others, are all elements offered by the Intensive Seminar on the EU.

This executive training course – composed of a one-, a two- and a three-week formula – has been running for over two decades and gives participants more than just the standard executive training. In a way, it conveys to participants the “esprit du Collège” experienced primarily by the College’s Master students.

This year, those registered for the 21st Intensive Seminar on the EU, in addition to a visit to Brussels where they met EU officials and an MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, also had the opportunity of attending a thought-provoking speech by former MEP, Marije CORNELISSEN.

After five years of intensive work at the European Parliament, where she was also Vice-Chair of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Ms CORNELISSEN shared her views on Euroscepticism as well as predictions for the coming five years.

First and foremost, she challenged standard assumptions on where several hot policy areas are thought to be discussed in the European Parliament. By referring to the EU competences, listing examples and relying on her personal experience as MEP, she concluded that, during the next five years: for foreign policy matters the Industry, Research and Energy Committee and the International Trade Committee will be more significant than the Foreign Affairs Committee; for climate change, one should keep an eye on the Transport and Tourism Committee more than on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee; and when dealing with the financial crisis, work in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee may be just as influential as that in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee since “there will be a call on the EU to do something about the social situation” unleashed by the crisis.

With regards to Euroscepticism, she was “appalled” at the victories of so many Eurosceptic parties during the last European elections in May 2014. However, she remained confident that despite the increase in number of Eurosceptic MEPs, “their influence on what actually happens will remain negligible” since “they are […] not very active in writing amendments, and even if they do, they do not show up for negotiations”. A bold statement that was received with rapt attention by the audience.

A lively Q&A session followed the speech and, subsequently, several participants had one-to-one discussions with Ms CORNELISSEN during the networking dinner.

Join us next year and be a part of the 22nd edition of this stimulating summer course: https://www.coleurope.eu/IntensiveSeminar.