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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Logistics for the EU Meeting on FATCA


May 27 Update - The meeting will be broadcast live tomorrow from the Alterio Spinelli Building ASP 5G3 starting at 15:30 (3:30 PM) Brussels time. Here is the direct link to the webstream:

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs Live Broadcast, 15:30 / 19:00 - 28-05-2013


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I have my train tickets. I'll be arriving in Brussels at 11:30 AM and leaving at around 8 PM.  Since the previous post I've been hearing from people who will be flying/taking the train in or attending via webstream.

If anyone is interested, I'd be more than happy to set up an email list so we can arrange to meet, talk, have lunch/dinner before or after the meeting.  If that idea appeals to you, just send me an email at v_ferauge@yahoo.com.

This morning I gathered some info about where the meeting will be held, how to get there (thanks, Tim) and the rules for visitors to the European Parliament.  If someone would be so kind as to crosscheck my info, I would be really grateful:

Draft Agenda:

Here is the tentative speaker list and the format of the meeting.

Location:

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 28, in room ASP 5G3 in the Alterio Spinelli Building in Brussels from 15:30 (3:30 PM) to 17:00 (5:00 PM).  It is a public hearing and we have been told that anyone is free to attend.  That said, I imagine that seating will be limited so it might be a good idea to arrive well in advance.

Directions:

Taxi: Tell the taxi driver that you want to go to the European Parliament, entrance Altiero Spinelli Building (the main entrance).  This will take about 15 minutes from the "Gare du Midi" train station and about 25 minutes from the airport.

Metro from the train station "Gare du Midi": Take metro Line 2, in the direction of "Simonis", to "Trône/Troon".  This takes about 25 minutes including the time spent walking from the metro station to the Alterio Spinelli Building.

Here is a map of the area.

Identification:  

You will need an ID card of some sort to enter the building.  The EP website says "Please bring with you formal proof of your identity (an official ID card, passport or driving license)."  To be safe, be sure to bring your passport in addition to any other ID you may have.

Security:

All your belongings will be run through a scanner.  There is a video surveillance system inside the building. 

Meeting Protocol:

I have been told that there will be no opportunities for attendees to speak or ask questions.  The only debate will be between committee members.  So the only opportunity here to be heard is to try and talk to people before and after the meeting.  However, during the meeting, even if you can't speak, don't underestimate the message your presence sends.  If you aren't convinced, try to think of it in reverse.  What would it say if no one other than bankers and government officials were present in that room?

A last word and what follows is not me trying to tell anyone what to do or say or how to act.  Just throwing out what seems to me to be common sense.  

This is an important meeting for us.  We and our message will be judged in light of, not only what we say, but how we act.  Here are a few thoughts I had while drinking my coffee this morning:
  • This is a European meeting and the decision-makers in the room are first and foremost concerned about their own citizens and what impact FATCA will have on them. If you are a dual EU/US citizen, identify yourself as such. If you are married to an EU citizen or have dual EU/US citizen children, say so. This will make what you have to say relevant to them. Remember, Americans in Europe aren't (and can't be) their top priority but what happens to their own citizens is (I hope).

  • With the above in mind think about how to frame your message if you do catch someone's ear. I'd make it short and sweet with maximum 2-3 points. Think elevator speech. One of mine will probably be, "I have an EU citizen spouse and two children who are dual EU/US citizens. I and they don't agree with the application of an American law that would require them to waive their rights in their own country here in the EU."
Last one and then I will hold my peace and let you go about your day.

I know you're angry and so am I.  But the Europeans didn't make this law - the US Congress did - and it's not their fault that they have to deal with it.  This is their meeting and their debate and I'm not going to let my frustration with the U.S. government to spill over in this venue.  It's about making the most of an opportunity to listen and be heard - that's the goal.  Getting angry here, in my humble opinion, will not help us one iota.  As the Beatles said, some ways of getting your point across just take us to: "You ain't gonna make it with anyone, anyhow."  

We will probably count to ten many times during the meeting.  I'm sure things will be said that will make us want to shake our fists and leap out of our seats.  I honestly don't think it will do us any good here and it could do a lot of harm.  Let's save it for another time and place.  My .02.

If anyone has other suggestions to make, allez-y!


2 comments:

Tim said...

Victoria,

Here is a link to a public hearing of the same committee last October in the same room as the hearing on Tuesday. It is definitely one of the smaller committee rooms and if one does not get in early you can very well end up sitting on the floor. After thinking about this further most of the "guests" appear to be Parliamentary Staff Assistants so again it is probably worthwhile to get there early and get chummy. In this room the public sits right behind the last row of MEPs. Because MEP In't Veld is a "alternate" member of this committee I think she will be stuck in that back row. I am not exactly sure about this though. "Alternate" members attend all hearing and ask questions but only vote if another member of their political "grouping" is absent.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20121010-0900-COMMITTEE-ECON

European politicians appear to be addicted to instant messaging on their smart phones.

Lucy Laederich said...

Very wise words, Victoria... it is a little hard (but essential) for us to remember where the law came from, who we are, who they are and why they are having this meeting...

I will be with you all (virtually) in front of my computer on Tuesday afternoon!