Summers in International Development: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
August 30, 2013 – Sarah Weiner
This past summer, I worked for the Legal Transition Team (LTT) at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). LTT is a small unit within the Office of the General Counsel that focuses on legal reform in the countries where the Bank operates. EBRD is unique among development banks for its emphasis on developing the private sector, so LTT’s overarching mission is to encourage reforms that promote investment and the growth of small and medium enterprises.
My work fell in the public procurement sector and primarily consisted of helping my supervisor complete a region-wide assessment of procurement legislation. Broadly speaking, a public procurement law regulates the procedures through which governments award contracts to private entities and thus sits at the front lines of curbing corruption in many countries. In my role, I analyzed each country’s procurement law with the help of an objective questionnaire that identifies whether each law contains the elements of the benchmark set by LTT. I then produced graphs illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of each law with regard to several categories, such as transparency and efficiency.
The most interesting part of my internship was communicating those results to government officials in each country and working with them to ensure that our data was accurate and fully reflected the progress of recent reforms. I can’t imagine another summer job where I would have gotten exposure to such a variety of different legal systems and had the platform to communicate with (and be heard by) so many different governments. Although the vast majority of my communication with government officials was done over the phone, the highlight of my summer was meeting with representatives from Tajikistan in person, as they happened to be in London for a conference. Navigating that meeting reminded me of one of the reasons I sought out an internship in international development—discussing the law with someone from a different culture, background, and legal system from your own makes your work that much more challenging and interesting!
In short, my internship at EBRD exposed me to the ways international organizations engage in policy dialogues with governments to promote legal reform. Further, I was included in office-wide meetings discussing EBRD policies, initiatives, and challenges and got an overall sense for the way a multilateral development bank operates—all while meeting and working with interesting people from all over the world!