By Anissa Mebrouk-Schmidt
I recently met Nicola Vatthauer, Communications Director at EUROCITIES. EUROCITIES is a network of major European cities, founded in 1986 by the mayors of Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milano and Rotterdam. They agreed that a key task was to put the issue of cities and their economic, political and social development onto the European agenda. Indeed, the founders suggested that major European cities could benefit from forming such an association. Today, EUROCITIES brings together the local governments of over 130 of Europe’s major cities from 35 different countries, representing the interests and needs of 130 million citizens. The EUROCITIES secretariat is based in Brussels, in Square de Meeûs. Nicola Vatthauer kindly answered some of my questions:
AMS: What does EUROCITIES stand for in the EU?
NV: EUROCITIES represents the local authorities of major European cities across the continent. It is very important for cities to have a representation in Brussels, it helps them to exchange ideas. When connecting cities across Europe to our network, we learn from each other through a wide range of forums, working groups, projects, activities and events. EUROCITIES is committed to working towards a common vision of a sustainable future in which all citizens can enjoy a good quality of life.
AMS: In your daily work, do you have much interaction with European institutions?
NV: Yes of course, we work with the European institutions on a daily basis. We represent the cities’ interests towards the institutions and the institutions can also contact us to have an idea of what works in their cities.
AMS: What’s the difference between working for EUROCITIES and for EU institutions? Do you feel closer to European citizens?
NV: There is definitely a difference between working for EUROCITIES and for a European institution. The gap between EU politics and citizens is very big. I also think that the methods used are very different.
I feel closer to European citizens but it is important to understand that at EUROCITIES we don’t have direct contact with European citizens as we represent local authorities. But we do work on citizens’ consultations.
AMS: What’s your role for the European Elections 2019?
NV: We have created a campaign called “Cities4Europe” that aims to involve citizens in a dialogue about the future, to inspire all levels of government to build societies where people come first and impact the way decisions are taken in Europe. Therefore, we are not preparing the coming elections by making a call to vote but we are working on a vision of European cities for the future. We would like cities to have a bigger voice in Europe.
AMS: What’s the best way of starting a career at EUROCITIES?
NV: To become a trainee! We have a lot of former trainees here.
AMS: Can you sum up your role at EUROCITIES?
NV: My job is mostly divided in two parts; I have some operational/ practical missions (communication management, newsletter, videos, event) and some others based on strategy (for instance when working with the institutions).
AMS: What did you study?
NV: I studied Environmental Sociology (citizens participation) in Berlin.
AMS: What was your professional path before entering this organisation?
My first job was in Berlin in hydraulic turbo machinery. I had to work on the privatisation of a company and to study the impact on society. Then I moved to Brussels with my family and I worked freelance as a journalist and after in European research policy. In 1999, I started working for EUREKA, an intergovernmental research institution as Communications manager. In 2005 I came to EUROCITIES. As you can see I’ve done a lot of things and I was not destined to work in communications or in European affairs. But it’s been nearly 15 years that I have been working in EUROCITIES.
AMS: What advice would you give to young professionals that are interested in European affairs?
Study what you like, build yourself a good profile and find something that makes you stand out.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR AN INTERNSHIP AT EUROCITIES IN SEPTEMBER??
Send your application to Nicola Vatthauer, firstname.lastname@example.org