Visit of the German Constitutional Court and the Commission staff in Karlsruhe
On Thursday 15 September Vice-President Šefčovič visited Karlsruhe, home to the German Constitutional Court, where he met its President, Professor Vosskuhle. During their meeting the two discussed their ideas and experiences of how the EU works in the new institutional set-up under the Treaty of Lisbon, including the role of national parliaments, the European citizens' initiative, but also the general perception of the EU in Germany.
One thing that became apparent from the discussions that took place was again the sense that there is often a lack of mutual understanding and information flow between national European politicians and civil servants; an issue the Vice-President is keen to address through more contact between the Commission and national parliaments.
While in Karlsruhe, the Vice-President also visited the Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU). Remarkably, it is not well known to the general public that Karlsruhe is also home to this European Commission service which is widely recognised in the international scientific community. Approximately 300 Commission staff located there contribute to world-class expertise in many fields including the safety of nuclear reactors in the EU, the safety of nuclear fuel cycles, non-proliferation - which is of utmost importance for all our security -, research on nuclear medical applications and the education of young scientists and experts.
Recent initiatives by the Commission's Director-General Dominique Ristori and Director Thomas Fanghänel to increase awareness in the local surroundings and generally amongst citizens are much welcomed, especially given the fact that all Europe and its citizens benefit from this centre of expertise. The ITU also collaborates closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and with leading hospitals in the world.