You joined the EEA as an intern of the Brussels office. You soon became the Brussels representative. And you have done an amazing job.
Just the other week somebody asked you after the successful meeting “D2UBLE PENALTY”: Refugees & Freedom of Religion or Belief – 31 May 2017 how many people worked for you (in your office). When she heard that the EEA has basically one (1!) Brussels representative who heads up just himself, she was totally amazed.
I think this signifies something of the great work you have been doing. You have been networking on a very high level in the past years. You have done amazingly well. Not only among the EEA members but also in Brussels among people and organisations who have the same or similar goals as us and also within the Commission and the Parliament of the EU. This has given the EEA visibility and impact far beyond its seemingly small capacity.
You led the work in Brussels in a vital time. In 2008 the goal was set to put Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) much higher on the radar of the EU. You worked tirelessly and from various angles for this to happen. In 2013, the EU adopted its guidelines on the promotion and protection of FoRB outside the Union. And in 2016 the President of the European Commission announced his decision to appoint Mr Ján Figeľ as the first Special Envoy for the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union.
This of course shows the next nut to crack. How do we get the EU to recognise that this is not only a problem outside but also inside the EU? You have done good ground work for that already and your successor, Arie de Pater, will be able to pick up from there.
Much more could be said, especially also about your people oriented and highly relational way of working with and winning people. You have been great to work with.
It is good to know that this was not just a job for you. It is your passion and your calling. Therefore, I am sure we will continue to connect with each other and enrich each other.
On behalf of the EEA family I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish you God’s blessings and that you will be a blessing to many.
EEA General Secretary