Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Aukje de Vries' Diary Day 16

In the morning I try to do some more work on the tasks I have got after the teleconference of 10 days ago. I really should have done them before, but I did not have time and this is not the only thing that has had to wait.

One of the things is that I have to send letters to the past, present and next Presidency of the European Union. The Presidency of the European Union is transferred every half year to another Member State. The country that holds the Presidency has a lot of influence on the agenda setting. In order to guarantee continuity, there is the so-called “troika” consisting of the past, present and future Presidency countries who together do a lot of the work that is involved in running the Presidency. Therefore it is important to address all three when you want to ask Europe’s attention for a special issue. France is the past President, the Czech Republic is the present and Sweden is the next President. I don’t have a clue how to address the latter two. Our French member has helped me with France, but what about the two others?? I begin by the Information Bureau of the European Commission in The Hague. They tell me to call the permanent representation of The Netherlands in Brussels (this is like a Dutch Embassy with the EU). I try but the line of the person I should talk to is busy. After 15 minutes the secretary tells me I had better call again after lunch. But after lunch I have another dentist’s appointment. This time for 90 minutes. Esther has offered to come and fetch me, if I feel bad afterwards. While I lie in the dentist’s chair, mouth wide open and completely disempowered, I realise that the Dutch Permanent Representative in Brussels will probably refer me to his Czech and his Swedish counterparts and that exchanging addresses by telephone in English with other people who are not native English speakers either is probably a fairly hopeless task. (English spelling remains difficult for me as non-native speaker and the same is most likely true for them.) This even more so because I do not expect to recognise the spelling of Czech or Swedish names. It will be better to use e-mail, even if I may have to wait for an answer longer.

My treatment does not last longer than last week nor is it more painful so I walk home. I call Esther to tell her I have managed alright and we chat for a while.

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