It's been pretty quiet on the blog recently because life has been very busy lately. Apart from exams, papers, and general work, I've just been on a RIO Trip. Unfortuneately it isn't as glamourous as it sounds, as RIO stands for "Recht der internationale organisaties", which is Dutch for "Law of the international institutions".
The trip consisted of visiting a lot of European organisations in Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Brussels, and entailed an exhausting amount of presentations and travelling, and, as was pointed out, an unknown number of bars. The EU and the Council of Europe naturally featured on the list, but so did other less well known organisations and institutions within the EU and outside of the EU umbrella. The lasting impression is of a Europe that has embraced an extrodinary depth of co-operation and integration, the scale of which rarely strikes you until you've seen the many different forms of co-operation - and I'm sure we only saw a quick overview. The commitment of the people involved in these institutions is also impressive: again and again, we met people who were genuinely enthusiastic about their subject area, whether it was the prevention of torture or the regulation and safety of the skies.
The positions of the other, non-EU, organisations was interesting as well. In a continent full of international co-operation, the EU looms large as the Europe, and the other organisations are adjusting their roles in the face of the EU's success. From conflicted self-assertion and resignation (Council of Europe), to a vision of providing expert advice (Commission on Navigation of the Rhine), to that of enthusiastic service provider (EuroControl).
Notable exceptions from the trip were the Council and the EP. The Council was dropped because of the European Council summit which occured while we were in Brussels (so ironically I was close by but didn't know what exactly had happened until I got back home). The EP was dropped because, apparently, they're just bad at handling visitors and left a bad immpression on the last RIO trip - which is a shame, because the EP is, for me, the institution that communicates best online.
So to get back into the swing of blogging, I think I will cover some of the institutions and organisations and my impressions of them.