Wednesday, 27nd January 2016, David and I attended the EuroDIG prep meeting in Brussels. As well for David as for me this was the first time attending a EuroDIG meeting. Both David and I are living in the Netherlands, that makes Brussels more easy to reach by train. The meeting started the 27nd in the morning. That’s why we already arrived a day ahead. In the evening we had a little walk through the city and tasted some of the typical Belgian specialities.

The meeting was in the Albert Borschette conference centre one of European Commission’s own conference centres. That meant we had to go through some strict security before entering the conference facility. As expected, that took some time which resulted in many attendees being late.

Discussing the theme of the upcoming EuroDIG

Discussing the theme of the upcoming EuroDIG

The meeting was opened by the EuroDIG secretariat and a representative of the European Commision. What followed was a introducing tour around the table so all the attendees could introduce themselves shortly. What I noticed was that the gross of the participants were already involved with internet governance for a while and of course they all knew each other. That was why I wasn’t surprised about the number of people that I’ve already seen before. After the tour around the table a few aims and objectives were discussed. What followed was the evaluation of proposals, we didn’t discuss all the submissions in detail, but they were already combined by the EuroDIG secretariat. What we discussed during the evaluation was if the sessions, which have already been combined were combined right. If not what a better option could be, for instance a standalone session or combined differently to another category. That took some time… Sonia and I had also submitted a session together; which included the clash between mass surveillance and privacy of the individual, our session belonged to human rights category.

Between the session discussion we had a great diverse lunch at an hotel next doors of the conference center. At lunch the actual networking started, I met a lot of people both from the Netherlands as from any other organisation or every other country, lunch was too short to have a chat with everybody…. so we just continued during the coffee break 🙂

After the proposal evaluation, the dynamic part of the meeting started. We had to agree, everyone present in the room, to an overarching theme for this EuroDIG. Yeah, that took some time…

Everyone willing to propose was given the opportunity to do so. Lot’s of titles were proposed… from “society 4.0” to “Who cares about internet governance?” after 1,5 hours of discussing and a coffee break we could finally all agree on the overarching theme: “Embracing Digital (R)evolution”. Discussing the theme was also the last interactive part of the meeting, after some last general information the meeting was ended.

After the meeting David and I took a little walk, we ended up having a look at the European Parliament. Later we had dinner with Matthias Bjärnemalm who gave us some tips about getting more youth involved in the IGF process and explained some financial constructions within the EU. After dinner our time in Brussel had passed so we had to head home again after a fruitful and interesting meeting.

Auke Pals