Yesterday we welcomed Petros Fassoulas to the EMI, who takes up his new position as our Secretary General. However, before we let him get down to too much hard work, we first decided to take a moment out to get to know him a little better:
1) You’ve spent a long time (15 years) in the UK. Is leaving bittersweet or are you looking forward to a new life here in Brussels?
I really like Brussels and I am looking forward to coming back, not least because my family is here. This is a truly challenging, and, at the same time, exciting moment for Europe and I cannot think of a better place to be than at the European Movement International. London will always be home and the UK will be one of the things I’ll be focusing on: the future integrity of the European project depends to some extent on the outcome of the UK referendum. The European Movement International should not be absent from that battle.
2) Taking over from someone who has been in the role for 6 years must be daunting. Have you managed to extract any tips from your predecessor? What experience do you bring to the table?
These are very big shoes to fill. But I am lucky that I am following in Diogo’s footsteps, he’s done a great job and has brought the EMI to where it is today. My plan is to build on that and to use my communications and advocacy experience to raise the organisation’s profile and make it more impactful and influential. I might be an ‘EM insider’ but I bring with me a private sector mindset and a British work ethic which has served me well so far. As for tips, he gave me a few, but I promised to only share them with my own successor!
3) Moving on, you have a wealth of UK focused experience, but what do you think are the biggest current challenges in Europe?
Europe is at a crossroads, the economic crisis that has gripped our continent for the past 7 years, coupled with the resurfacing of nationalism, are sowing the seeds of division when unity is needed. Our Union faces the threat of disintegration because of the twin dangers of Grexit and Brexit, while external threats are putting into question our very security. Europe needs answers to some pressing questions, answers that can only come from the people. The EMI’s historical role is to preserve and promote European unity, while working from the bottom up.
4) Do you have any initial plans you would like to achieve?
My first priority is to meet as many of our members as possible and discuss with them how we can best achieve our common objectives. They are what makes the EMI special and I want them to be in the driving seat. Going forwards, I want to optimise our network and expertise so that our voice will be better heard in Brussels and in capitals across Europe. We must feed into the great debates of our time and provide thought leadership and a vision for Europe.
5) It sounds like you have a lot of work on your hands. What do you do to relax?
It might seem corny but I love spending time with my daughter. She is about to turn 1 and she fills me with joy, revitalises me and gives me much-needed perspective. Otherwise, my girlfriend recently subscribed me to a Pilates class, which, even though it often feels like punishment for sins committed in a previous life, is a good way to clear the mind and regain focus.
Thank you Petros. We look forward to working with you!