Since Bristows opened a Brussels office in May this year, members of the Competition team have been flitting back and forth across the Channel for meetings with European clients. However, this was the first time that the whole team had been assembled together at our continental abode. The trip comprised of a visit to the new office, followed by dinner and drinks next to Brussels’ famed Grand Place. The following morning some of the team went on a tour of the European Parliament building, before saying “À bientôt” and heading back to the London office.
After disembarking from the Eurostar, the team headed straight over to the new Bristows branch. A prime location within the centre of Brussels – it took our group about a minute to walk from the Metro station to the office building – the new base will prove useful for Bristows lawyers supporting a large number of clients on matters of EU law, especially for matters that come before the European institutions.
Once we arrived we were shown around by Competition partner Stephen Smith, who heads up the Brussels division. The office is stylish and sophisticated, with some tech start-up-style features such as communal working areas, flexible desk booking, and most importantly, a first-rate coffee machine. After checking e-mails and settling in to the new office, we made our way across town to the heart of the old city, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a traditional Belgian bistro.
The next morning, several members of the team went on a guided tour of the European Parliament. Our guide gave us a talk about the history of the EU and the role of the European Parliament, before showing us the main chamber, the Hemicycle, where high-profile debates take place between MEPs during the Parliament’s plenary sessions. Our guide pointed out the booths around the Hemicycle where the translators work. These translators usually speak 5 or 6 of the 24 official languages of the EU, and are able to translate what is said by an MEP or guest speaker within 2 or 3 seconds of it being said. This gave us all a greater appreciation of the incredible work that goes on at the European Parliament. Overall we were given a fascinating insight into the EU institutions, and the tour was a wonderful way to round off our trip to Brussels.
A big thank you goes to the Competition and Regulatory partners and to Kelly Parker for organising such an interesting trip.