Today’s interview is with Micaela DelMonte, a lawyer from the European Parliamentary Research Service, who is at the Law Library for one month.
Describe your background.
I am Italian and was born in Siena, Italy. Shortly after my birth, my family moved to Florence and then to Carrara, the city of white marble, where I spent most of my youth. I arrived in the U.S. almost three years ago and I will go back to Brussels, Belgium this summer, when my posting in D.C. comes to an end.
What is your academic/professional history?
I was educated in Italy at the Law School of the University of Pisa where I graduated cum laude. Afterwards, I studied in Spain at the Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas in Madrid. I have always been fascinated by Europe and the European project so I was glad to have the chance to move to Brussels for professional reasons.
I started working for the European Union in 1999, when I moved from Spain to Belgium to join the Legal Service of the Council of Ministers. In 2000, I moved to the European Commission (the EU Executive) where I worked for 12 years on a range of issues including justice and home affairs, and health and consumer protection. As a civil servant of the EU institutions, I have to comply with the so called “mobility obligation” which means that I have to move to another position at least every 5 years. In 2012, I joined the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), the in-house think tank providing bi-partisan, comprehensive, and analytical research to the members of the European Parliament and its committees. I very much like EPRS’ motto “Empowering through knowledge”, because it supports the idea that I can serve my institution by providing facts and analysis.
How would you describe your job to other people?
The work done by EPRS is similar to the work done by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and indeed we were very much inspired by CRS. I have to write different types of documents: briefings, in-depth analyses, and short “at-a-glance” on topics of interest for the members of the European Parliament. However, when I joined EPRS in 2012, I worked in a unit called “EU added value”. I had to assess the potential benefit of future action by the Union in policy areas where collective good could be realized through common action at a European level instead of at a national level. It was quite challenging considering the growing Euroskepticism in Europe, including in the European Parliament.
Why did you want to come to the Law Library of Congress?
For the month of May, I am volunteering at the Law Library of Congress to gain an understanding of how the Law Library works. Its products and services are indeed of great interest to the European Parliament in Brussels since EPRS also houses a very small Comparative Law Library unit. Two years ago, Peter Roudik met with some of my colleagues, and they were so impressed by the work done here that they thought that a similar institute would be very beneficial for the European Parliament. Obviously we do not have the same collections or the same expertise, but we do hope to move in the right direction by observing and learning the great work you are doing here.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
In my opinion, the most impressive thing is the law collection. The first week I arrived here, Connie Johnson showed me the two reading rooms and the collections in the closed stacks in the basement of the Madison building. It looked to me like a maze, a maze of knowledge.
Also I must say that the Law Library is most similar to an EU institution, because people have different language skills, come from around the world, and it looks like a very international environment.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I am a very ordinary person, though I like to keep busy with other activities besides enjoying time with my family and working. I do enjoy playing piano, jogging, and reading. While staying here in the U.S., I took some classes on American literature to get a better understanding of the U.S. and discovered many authors I did not know before. When you study in Europe, most of the authors you come across are from your own country and other European countries, so I must admit that I did not know much about American literature. Hopefully this has improved a little bit in the meantime!