| Margie Waters
Speechwriter for Commissioner Jan Figel, DG Education and Training
Originally from Dublin.
About your job: I work in the Education and Culture DG, and write speeches and briefings for two Commissioners, Jan Figel' and Leonard Orban, and for the Director-General Odile Quintin - working with a great variety of people from all around Europe, on a whole range of topics that are pretty much the fabric of daily life for everyone, no matter where in the EU (the DG covers education, culture, youth, sport, languages, citizenship). The work can be quite hectic at times...
Why the EU? It wasn't really intended to last so long – I left Ireland in 1989, for a few years, but I'm still here. One of the nice things about working for the Commission is that you can change job quite easily, so I've worked in a number of different areas over the years.
How do you think Ireland has benefited most from the EU? Let me count the ways… it's been a huge process of opening up: it brought us new horizons, placing us back inside Europe, helping to overcome our economic dependence on Britain, developing a whole new exchange of cultures, ideas and influences.
Languages: English; school Irish; French - from school and then through courses and using it at work and in daily life; Spanish - school and university and speaking it a bit with friends here
Books/Music: Difficult to make a choice: I loved Sebastian Barry's A long long way and Hugo Hamilton's The speckled people, for how they illuminate Ireland and for the beauty of the language; also very taken with Jay McInerney's The good life and Jorge Semprun Le grand voyage: I suppose the common thread is that they are enormously human, and humane works, looking at world-shaping events through the lens of an individual life.
I'm a lifelong fan of Leonard Cohen and a recent fan of Cat Power – she has a wonderfully dark but pure voice, and of k.d. lang (especially Hymns of the 49th parallel)