Friday, 7 May 2010

To TACD or not to TACD

Jo Witt, Policy and Research Assistant at Consumers International, takes us on an escorted tour of the US State Department.

Washington – done!

After a week of uncertainty and another week of meetings including four days of conference, we are now safely back in Europe or other parts in the US or homes in Washington.

Three weeks ago when a huge number of flights were cancelled and one European airport after another shut down, it dawned on us that a volcano with an unpronounceable name might actually stop us from holding the 11th annual meeting of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD).

Following the volcano outbreak was a week of uncertainty, and Julian Knott, the TACD Coordinator, became more and more pale each day as the airspace kept being closed over Europe. At risk were four days of meetings: the steering committee and chairs meeting, internal policy committee meetings, meetings with both US and EU officials at the US State Department, and the conference on climate change.

But luckily, all’s well that ends well – only a handful of participants had to cancel and all others arrived eventually in DC for the meetings. There was even some time to enjoy a couple of hours at the Earth Day held at the Mall with The Roots, John Legend and Sting playing live.

The internal meetings went smoothly on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, we spent quite some time waiting outside the US State Department before they let the consumer delegation in.

The State Department looks quite swanky from the outside but rather dull on the inside, long corridors, no pictures on the walls, a little bit like offices in old police movies. It was a strange feeling to be escorted everywhere, since as visitors, we were not allowed to move freely within the building. It was also quite reassuring to see that the US government is not any more organised in terms of catering, room signage or timing than NGOs.

The meeting at the State Department received good feedback and the TACD was even mentioned in the European Commission press briefing.

On Wednesday, the time in DC was wrapped up nicely with a one-day conference on climate change and low carbon economy, many thanks and relief that we managed to go ahead and didn’t get stuck on either side of the Atlantic.

For more information have a look at the TACD website.

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