Club 20’s Reece to tour Europe on the Marshall Plan
Club 20 Executive Director Christian Reece this week begins a six-week tour of Europe, where she will look at ways other nations have tackled issues from health care to energy development — both issues of significance to western Colorado.
Reece will travel the continent as a fellow of the German Marshall Plan, which is dedicated to strengthening international relationships. It’s a response to the original Marshall Plan, in which the United States aided European nations in the reconstruction of their economies after World War II.
Reece will tour five countries, concentrating on regional approaches, she said.
“What I’m really focused on is seeing if there are ways that have been tried in smaller communities” to deal with common issues, Reece said. “Maybe we can take ideas and implement them, or maybe we can learn from some failures here and there.”
Reece’s travels will include visits to Brussels, Belgium; Lubeck, Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Athens, Greece; and Paris, France.
At each location, she will meet with people whose visits she has arranged on her own without the help of the Marshall organization.
In Germany, for instance, Reece said she hopes to learn more about the health care system in which all German residents must belong to a “sickness fund.” Those funds cover a standard set of benefits, which include most procedures and prescriptions, and the money comes from employees and employers equally. The government pays to cover the unemployed and children.
While the system has been touted as a success, “Frankly, I’m skeptical, but interested,” Reece said.
In Bulgaria, she plans to look into the Industrial Trade Association and how it deals with energy exports. In Brussels, she plans to study trade agreements, and in Greece she hopes to gain insight as to why Greece has struggled.
“Every time they get a new leader, they get another governmental structure,” Reece said. “I worry that they seem to be losing their sense of national identity.”
The United States is “fortunate to have a constitution guiding us,” she said.
Reece plans to document some of her experiences in The Daily Sentinel and on a blog at cmreece.wixsite.com/fellowship, as well as on Facebook at Club20westernslope and on Twitter at @club20westslope.
Other western Coloradans who have been German Marshall Fund fellows include state Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and John Marshall, vice president for student services at Colorado Mesa University.