As I have already mentioned in one of my last contributions, I had the opportunity to spend three months abroad, more precisely in the Belgian capital, as part of the practical phase of my Public Management studies. In the previous reports, I took a closer look at the city of Brussels and all its sights. Now, I would like to introduce you to my internship position, and give you an insight into my activities at the European Office of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB).
By Julia Mayer / 06.07.2020
The European Office of the DStGB
Local politics and European politics are directly interwoven. In the EU, many regulations are designed to have an impact on local self-government. This makes it all the more important that municipal interests are represented in Brussels. Since 1991, the German municipalities have been represented by their own office in Brussels. At the heart of European policy-making, the DStGB is interconnected within Europe. It is for example a partner of both the leading municipal associations in Europe, and the European umbrella organisations, named the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR). Furthermore, the delegates of the DStGB in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) can actively participate in the shaping of European policy. The European Office also cooperates closely with municipal partners in Austria and France.
The main focus of the work of the European Office of the DStGB is the active representation of the political positions and demands of local authorities vis-à-vis EU institutions, politicians and the public. As a spokesperson, the European Office is available in particular to the European Commission and the European Parliament. On the other hand, the German municipalities are informed about all relevant developments in Brussels. The areas of internal market policy, regional development, environmental policy and social affairs play a central role here.
The following quote from the Director of the European Office of the DStGB, Dr. Klaus Nutzenberger, once again summarises the tasks in a nutshell: “There are over 10,000 lobbyists working in Brussels. We, however, represent the democratically legitimized level in Germany that is closest to the citizens. Europe’s dialogue with us must take full account of this special feature”.
Internship at the European Office of the DStGB
If you complete an internship at the European Office of the DStGB, you will gain a unique insight into the work of the DStGB as a municipal umbrella organisation in Brussels. The main focus here is on cooperation with EU institutions, European umbrella organisations, as well as German and foreign partner associations. Attending and reporting on events and summarising current EU action are also of particular importance.
Monitoring and evaluating the activities of the EU institutions with an impact on the municipal level in Germany – for example by attending events, conferences or completing research work – is one of the central activities. Furthermore, as an intern at the European Office of the DStGB you will have the opportunity to work independently on legislative initiatives, documents of the European institutions, and related projects. Events take place regularly at the European Office, and the municipal umbrella organisation often welcomes groups of visitors. The interns have the chance to participate in the organization of those events and have the chance to look after guests. . Internship activities also include general organisational and administrative activities, such as making appointments.
In order to apply for an internship at the European Office of the DStGB, it is advantageous if your studies are in the following fields: administrative sciences, law, political sciences, communication sciences or economics. It is also helpful to have a good knowledge of German and English, and at least a basic knowledge of French. Communication in the office is in German. When contacting decision-makers at EU level or the European partner associations, the exchange is conducted in English. Hence, it is important to mention here that the internship is a great opportunity to improve your language skills. An internship at the European Office of the DStGB can last from two to six months.
I have learned a lot in the three months that I was allowed to work in the European Office. I was able to broaden my knowledge of the European institutions and their decision-making processes considerably. This is not least due to the many events and discussions with decision-makers in which I was able to participate. I have also had the opportunity to help to organise and run events, conferences and meetings such as that of the Franco-German Committee in Augsburg. Working with legislative texts and documents of the European institutions and writing articles has also allowed me to develop and gain valuable experience. If I were to be faced with the decision once again to do an internship at the European Office of the DStGB, I would gladly do so again without hesitation. I can also imagine working in a position which is located within the context of the European Union, or even directly in Brussels. The internship with Dr. Nutzenberger was extremely enjoyable and expanded my wealth of experience. It is a great pity that the three months at the DStGB’s European Office passed by so quickly.
I would like to thank all those who have looked after and supported me during this time in the DStGB’s European Office, especially Dr. Nutzenberger, the Director of the European Office. He has entrusted me with interesting and responsible tasks and has always encouraged me, thus preparing me professionally and personally with valuable practical tips for a career in the EU.
I would definitely choose to complete an internship at the European office of the DStGB again, and can only recommend this to anyone interested! This is a bit repetitive as it has already been mentioned in the previous paragraph (see text in bold)