It???s Friday morning and the conference will start in one hour. My real work will then commence, writing the minutes of the speeches and the discussions. I???m here to help out with this as an English native speaker yet trying to write the minutes of a vast variety of different speakers is going to be quite a challenge.
As for the conference overall, I remain a bit sceptical about how things are going to go. The attendance list reads like a who???s who of important political figures from Austria, Germany, the Commission, and to a certain extent the new Member States. There is however a complete lack of representation from southern Europe, the UK and Ireland, and from Scandinavia. I wonder if there is anyone from Turkey here? If so, I have not seen evidence of that as yet. The question is then what all of these people are going to say ??? will were hear anything that is decisively new? Let???s hope so. It’s quite cool that my name is on the same participant list as all of these people!
I attended the welcome reception last night and had the pleasure to be sat at the same table as Oliviero Toscani, the photographer responsible for the United Colours of Benetton photos in the early 1990s. He had some very interesting views about politicians and was complaining that all the people attending the conference were old men. Quite right too ??? almost every speaker is a ???baby boomer??? and only Mark Leonard could be anything close to being defined as young.
The highlight of yesterday was without doubt meeting Andrew Moravcsik, probably the best known academic in EU integration theory. For those people reading this who have never studied EU politics it might not seem much, but if you have ever studied the EU, you cannot really avoid having come across Moravcsik???s liberal intergovernmentalist theory. Further, he was very charming towards me and the minute taking team and we had an interesting chat about the scale of the task to train UK civil servants about how the EU works. He also had an interesting anecdote about the EU and Turkey: he said that Americans could never understand that Turkey joining the EU was like the US and Mexico merging and putting a whole bunch of their ministries together.
Anyway, work is about to start ??? more later!