This report has been prepared on the basis of the evaluations sent following the
ECAS SOROS Study Trip to Brussels
A total of 18 evaluations were received. Two of these were in written form, sixteen respondents completed the requested questionnaire. Most respondents to the questionnaire also included a brief summary of their experiences.
Some of the participants were a little sceptical regarding the trip. This was because:
- Those people in Brussels with whom we were to meet would be too busy to deal with us;
- Issues relating to Hungary would seem too small and insignificant to deal with in comparison to more immediate, local matters;
- It would be better to devote the time to essential and very urgent issues at home;
- The language issue would be a big problem, and those lacking good knowledge of English would be left out.
- That three days was far too short a time to gain a proper impression of life in Brussels and to gather answers to the many questions of the visitors.
The general feeling to be had from all the evaluations was that the trip was a total success. All the respondents commented on how well organised the trip was.
It was extremely well planned and organised
The programme and the organisation of the study trip were exceptional
The most common observation was that the trip helped people to understand how Brussels works a lot better, to see the human side of things. Most people only know Brussels by its formal face, the study trip helped people get a much better idea how the bureaucracy worked, and how this directly affected their own work.
The EU is a lot closer, and a lot more tangible to me, and I may now be able to pass on these impressions to others and the experiences I gained here.
it was good to experience directly how things work in Brussels, I will certainly be able to make use of these experiences in my work.
All those who voiced their initial apprehensions said that they had proved to be totally unfounded.
There were very few negative comments. Those that were made commented on the unpreparedness of some of the speakers, and the lack of handouts at times.
A few wider issues were also raised, some regarding the meaning of the European Union concept in general, and some regarding civil society work and its future in relation to the legal and funding questions raised by Hungarys accession to the union.
Comments on Sections of the Trip
DAY 1: WEDNESDAY 8TH OCTOBER
1) Morning Round Table Discussion
Everyone commented on what a good introduction this proved to be, and many people also observed with pleasure how seriously the hosts took the visitors. The fact that they questioned the visitors, especially at the lunchtime reception, was very pleasing for many people. Several felt that this was the most important part of the visit.
Many people observed a certain displeasure that the representatives of the Hungarian regions did not attend. There was also a certain amount of feeling that too much information was passed on, and that more time for questions would have been appreciated.
2) DG Regional Policy
Many of the participants in this session felt that the speakers were the best prepared here. The very high level of current and up to date detail was a pleasing surprise for many people, as was the fact that Hungarian language material was available to take away. One person felt this was the best presentation at which they attended.
3) DG Employment and Social Affairs
The comments on this section spell out what a good atmosphere there was, and how welcome we were made to feel by our host. Many of the comments focussed on how the bureaucracy of the social platform works, how far Hungary is not a part of this process yet, and how important it is that civil organisations from this country get involved as soon as possible.
4) European Anti-Poverty Network
The one comment on this meeting said it was the most useful, because it fitted most closely with the commentors own work, and allowed the making of useful connections for the future.
5) European Forum for the Arts and Heritage
The people commenting on this section all observed that the Forums work was professionally carried out, and that they were pleased to see Hungarian organisations involved too. The feeling was that the speakers were well prepared.
6) European Public Health Alliance
Almost all of those commenting on this section felt it was the best meeting they attended. The preparedness and speaking skill of the host were excellent, and the topics discussed were extremely interesting to all.
DAY 2: THURSDSAY 9TH OCTOBER
1) FOYER Social Integration of Immigrants and Other Projects
Many of the comments focussed on the colourful and interesting presentation style of the speaker. Everyone was pleased to see a local organisation from the inside, and to hear in detail about relevant social issues in Belgium, such as immigration. The fact that we were able to take a brief tour of the site, and see the playhouse designed to help children overcome prejudices was also commented upon positively.
One issue that came up several times was the notion of volunteerism and the temporary fostering of immigrant children. Many people felt that this was a fantastic example, and that the same kind of programme is very much needed in Hungary, particularly in connection with the Roma. However, there was a certain amount of scepticism in many of the evaluations that such a technique would be introducible in Hungary at this time, due to lingering prejudices and lack of voluntary spirit.
A few comments were made to the effect that too much history and not enough detail was offered. Another slight criticism regarded the fact that we werent able to see more of the organisation in action.
2) DG Enlargement
This was another of the best-liked programmes. Almost everybody commented on the speakers excellent preparation, and the usefulness of the printed material that was distributed. The level of detail and Mr Shübels knowledge of the situation in Hungary were very well received. The only negative comments related to the fact that many people had to leave before the end, and one person observed that the content was a little dry.
3) DG Enlargement, Hungary Team, Phare Coordinator
This part of the programme received mixed comments. From those whose work most closely relates to the PHARE Access programme and to the issues surrounding pre-and immediately post-accession funding, the comments were largely favourable. However, there was a strong feeling that the host was a little uninterested in the issues concerning the delegates, and that the presentation itself lacked a little in preparedness and originality. The lack of printed accompanying material also drew some unfavourable comment.
4) DG Agriculture
The comments on this part of the programme were very mixed. Some felt that it was very useful, and that the level of detail was very helpful. One respondent felt that the presenter was very unfriendly and did not make the guests feel welcome. The fact that only one copy of the printed material was available was also mentioned.
5) DG Environment
Only one response was received for this point. The two presenters were very open, and a good discussion was possible. The printed material received was well appreciated. Professional expectations about the programmes content were satisfied.
DAY 3: FRIDAY 10TH OCTOBER
1) European Parliament
Almost all the respondents commented on how useful and enjoyable it was to have a glance of the everyday life in the Commission and the Parliament. The visitors gained a much better sense of the lives of the people there, both delegates and those lower down the ladder, such as our guide. The translating apparatus and the bureaucracy that supports the sessions was also of great interest to many people. A very well enjoyed part of the programme. A few comments were made about how nice it would have been to see the Parliament during a session. The guides level of preparedness was, in the main, favourable commented on, although some did observe that it was a little unstructured, and one commentor observed that the difficulty she had in expressing herself properly in Hungarian was disappointing.
2) European Disability Forum
Generally felt to be a well-prepared presentation, which contained a great deal of information new to the participants. Some issues of particular interest were the varying definitions of disability across the continent, and the fact that a body geared towards lobbying to the Union was funded by the Union itself, rather than, for example, membership fees. The level of preparedness and the warmth of welcome were also favourably commented upon.
3) European Commission; Directorate General for Education
This was a particularly well-liked session. The clear manner in which the presenter explained what is a very complicated web portal was favourably commented on, and almost all respondents stated that the printed material received was very useful. The introduction to on-line application possibilities was also well received.
4) Polish NGO Office in Brussels
This was another of the best-enjoyed parts of the programme. Although several people commented on the level of tiredness among the participants, almost everyboy found this meeting essential. Many people commented on the possibilities Hungary could realise too, if this kind of institutional connection was available to organisations based here. Many people commented that such an example must be followed here too, and some noted the discomfort they felt realising how far ahead were Polish organisations in this respect. It was also observed by several respondents that this final presentation did an excellent job of bringing together the experiences of the trip, and helping to firm up in peoples minds the impressions gained.
The printed material was again well received, particularly that part relating to umbrella organisations and their given effectiveness. The preparedness and friendliness of the host was also favourably commented on.