Monday, 15 June 2009

Solidarity Sub-Committee Vs Study Trip Teams

With this article my aim is not to provoke or dispute the quality, the efforts, the morality and the integrity of my fellow Stagiaires in this Spring Stage Program in the European Commission. On the contrary I intend to present my personal opinion of the role of the Stagiaires in the EC based on my personal experience and point of view being both a member of a Study Trip Team, i.e. AIDCO-ECHO Stagiaires Study Trip Team, and a member of the Solidarity Sub-Committee.
The Stage program offers numerous opportunities for a Stagiaire to actively participate in the most of them exploding his/her limited amount of time during the stage period. The Stage Committee having under its auspices the Sub-Committees is responsible for running a smooth and fruitful program for the complete body of the Stagiaires Community. These Sub-Committees have a different concept and role during the whole period of the Stage. A leading position, even though this is equal among others, has the Solidarity Sub-Committee.
The Solidarity Sub-Committee (SSC) is a group of the European Commission Stagiaires who share the common interest in the problems faced by less fortunate people in the World. Furthermore the SSC has the privilege to be the one and only Sub-Committee responsible to carry through the most important mission of the Stagiaires Association, i.e. to provide a considerable amount of money to the EC personnel NGO “Europe Third World” (ETW) in order to implement in a successful way one of their humanitarian aid projects in the developing world.
The SSC inter alia assists the Stage Committee or the other Sub-Committees to implement their projects and events by providing labor working hours for the tasks assigned to the SSC by the last, e.g. the SSC members work on a volunteer base on the cloakrooms of the parties organized during the stage period. Furthermore the SSC organize its own projects and events in order to have a successful fundraising strategy in regard with the financing of the aforementioned Project of the NGO ETW, e.g. the SSC organize pub quiz, film projections and dance classes for the EC personnel and their fellow Stagiaires. Last but not least the SSC has the sole responsibility to bring into success the biannual Awareness Week (AW) in regard with the NGO ETW, its Vision and Mission and the Project finance in a developing country.
On the other hand the Stagiaires involved in the Study Trip Teams (STT) dedicate a significant amount of their personal time in order to implement their tasks in regard with a successful fundraising strategy in order to support their project, i.e. to visit an EC Delegation in a developing country. This strategy involves inter alia different types of events and activities, inter alia parties, sales of products and extraordinary events such as pub quiz, speed dating evenings etc. The aim of the Study Trip (ST) organized by the Stagiaires in D-G AIDCO and D-G ECHO is to view concrete results and direct impact of Europe Aid and Humanitarian Aid projects on the field following the theoretical phase of the stage in Brussels.
Analyzing both strategies someone can easily recognize the difference on the concept of each party and the similarities of the means used to realize their cause. Having in mind the limited potential budget each Stagiaire has from the beginning of his/her stage period – 5 000 to 6 000 EUR – we realize that this budget has also limited potentials in order to finance the above mentioned projects. This contradiction has as a result the two parties to consider themselves as competitors and not as partners. Just imagine if every Directorate-General organized its own STT. For example D-G RELEX could also have a ST in an EC Delegation abroad. D-G JLS could have a ST in the Schengen area countries and D-G TRADE a ST in China etc. Their possibilities to succeed on their goal would be minimized and they would be compelled to expand their fundraising strategy outside the Stage community circle by including on their target group the whole body of the EC personnel and the local civil society actors in Brussels and abroad.
To conclude with, my personal opinion on this issue is that the limited period of time of five months and the limited budget each Stagiaire has during his/her Stage program can only be productively, efficiently and effectively utilized if there is a commitment on the Vision and Mission of both the EU/EC traineeship and the Stage Committee. This Vision can only be carried out through the official channels of the program, i.e. the Sub-Committees. Hence a Solidarity and Voluntary based mentality is sine qua non in order for their role to be successfully implemented.


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