The one who was thankful for Europe

28576341_415308142272412_7312613255080499013_n08:00 . “The new generation is disconnected – they are all using Whatsapp, Snapchat, their smartphones to communicate, but surprisingly this makes them even more disconnected. I prefer calling people or seeing them. I guess I’m from the older generation. “

Lieven works at the switchboard of the European Parliament, which handles an average of 152 000 calls per year.

“ – We are working behind closed doors, but we are the first contact with European citizens. We have 500 million clients so to speak – because anybody can call the Parliament. And yes sometimes people are rather aggressive. In the 34 years that I have been doing this job I have noticed now that people have gotten more and more aggressive over the phone. More stressed perhaps.”
– I was already doing this job before – at Belgacom and the European Court of Justice. My father did the same job, that is how I rolled into this field. And I really like it. I am always switching languages since we actually handle 12 languages in between all of us 12 operators. What I love is hearing the voices of people, the different languages, always interacting with other human beings. Connecting people.”

(On the European project)

“- Honestly I love Europe. Europe does all these little things that make our lives great.
Let me give you an example. I’m a Belgian and I like beer. So, recently, the Competition Commissioner, you know the famous Danish lady* – noticed that two popular beers, Jupiler and Leffe, were cheaper in France and Holland than they were in Belgium, so she put this issue on the table. And now the price is the same in Belgium as in other countries !
Another example – telecommunications – now I can call my friends in Italy just as if I were calling them in Belgium. This is quite nice as I prefer calling. As you can see.
(He laughs)
Basically, today my beers and my phone calls are cheaper than before. So thank you Europe ! “

*Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said that Belgian consumers may have had to pay more for their favourite beers as cheaper beer imports were apparently not reaching consumers in Belgium – unlike in France or the Netherlands. Such practices breach EU competition rules, because they deny consumers the benefits of the EU Single Market – choice and lower prices.


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