posted on May 07, 2008 00:40
Eight members of Colwall Rotary Club
recently made a trip to Strasbourg to visit the Rotary Club of Strasbourg Europe
and the European Parliament
The trip commenced at 6am on Saturday 19th April at Great Malvern Station as the trip was made by rail all the way as the Rotarians were keen to experience the ups and downs of making such a long trip in the most green manner. Changes in London (for the Eurostar) and Paris (to complete the trip on the new TGV Est line) resulted in the group arriving in Strasbourg at 4:45pm local time.
As the formal visits were not until the Monday the group took time on Sunday to hire bicycles for yet another green travelling experience around the city. They experienced the open borders of Europe in a practical way by cycling across the River Rhine to Kehl in Germany for lunch. Unlike in Malvern, the weather was kind and warm.
On the Monday the group met with the Rotary Club of Strasbourg Europe and came across an ex-Malvern College man Jack Hanning, who worked for the European Parliament for many years and now lives permanently in the city. It was a pleasant surprise to all when the French Rotarians revealed to us (and each other) just how many of them spoke English.
After the meeting it was a short walk to the European Parliament building where we were met by one of the West Midland's group of MEPs Mr Philip Bushill-Matthews
, who showed us around the Chamber used for the parliamentary sessions and then gave us a good overview of how the European Union system of government works and the Parliament's place within that.
The whole group were fascinated to learn the reality of the operation shorn of the slant applied by a mostly sceptical UK press. The biggest surprise was that the European Commission (the civil service) employed less people that Worcestershire County Council. Mr Bushill-Matthews was keen to express the view that more people from England should try to find time to visit the various Euporean institutions in both Strasbourg and Brussels in order to learn their role and to better understand where the various "european" laws we all complain about really come from (its closer to home than you think!).
After sampling the culinary delights of Strasbourg on their last evening, the group made the return journey once again by rail all the way. The opinion was that rail is the best way to travel from now on; at least when it involves high speed trains.