By KC Mautner ‘12 & Lauren Prince ‘14Co-Editor-in-Chief & News Editor
On Nov. 10, Geert Criel, the Belgium Consul General to the United States in Los Angeles, spoke at the European Union Center at Scripps on the topic of the EU after the Lisbon Treaty. The EU Center at Scripps traditionally invites the representing presidency of the EU to speak about the Union’s current state. The presidency of the EU rotates every six months; Belgium, who is currently president of the EU, took on this position on July 1.
Signed in 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal and put in force in 2009, the Lisbon Treaty defines the constitutional basis of the EU and what lies inside and outside of its jurisdiction.
Since Belgium took control of the EU presidency, there has been a renewed emphasis on climate control, an expansion of the Union and more focus on trade and economic issues. The EU has created a bank stress test to measure financial institutions’ capability of responding to a financial meltdown, in the hopes that a financial meltdown similar to Greece’s can be avoided in the future. The EU has also adopted a fairly stringent bailout policy, stating that member nations are only required to help other member nations in the event of an economic crisis. The Union recently agreed to a trade agreement with South Korea that will go into effect in Aug. 2011. Talks have also been underway between Belgium and Croatia regarding Croatia’s accession to membership in the EU.
During his talk, Criel emphasized building a transatlantic relationship between the United States and Europe. Criel also gave background on the European Union and its global importance. One of the defining characteristics of the EU is its rotating presidency, which works to advance legislation that might otherwise not get approved under a single president. The EU accounts for 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, and its bilateral trade of approximately $2 billion per day accounts for 25 percent of total world trade.
Criel has been the Consul General of Belgium in L.A. for two years. Previous to this post, he had worked in Rome, Brussels, Tel Aviv and Washington D.C. Other Consul Generals present at Criel’s talk included representatives from Germany, Hungary, France, Spain, Croatia, Romania and Greece. To learn more about the European Union Center at Scripps, please visit eucenter.scrippscollege.edu.