“Knowledge that will last a lifetime” – Impressions of the EU Academy

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On Thursday at 9 am, along with 19 other participants from all over Europe, I was warmly welcomed at Holland House (a few metres away from the European Parliament) by two trainers greatly experienced in the world of EU advocacy: Marc-Olivier Herman and Joost Mulder.

From the very beginning, I was glad to see that EUChanger had come with a complete and comprehensive learning programme. It offered a combination of basic, but essential, and advanced information intended for all kinds of profiles, whether you are an expert in the functioning of the EU institutions or vaguely familiar with it. For my part, despite learning about the EU political system at university, I lacked a concrete and experienced perspective from inside the institutions, which was successfully provided by the organisers.

The trainers did not only share theory but also made sure that most concepts were fully grasped by the audience. They included sufficient practical exercises and tried to make the training as interactive as possible. We were plunged into real-life simulations and invited to defend a case on a matter related to sustainable development in teams, with the aid of tools and information acquired early-on during the day.

To further support their explanations, the organisers invited guests working in different departments and institutions (from EP group advisors to Commission staff). All were more than keen on sharing their experience and advice, thus allowing us to contextualize the theory learned.

While the shared information will certainly come in handy for most participants, this training also enabled some networking activity. All 20 participants to this second edition represented together more than 15 different non-profit organisations and came from different backgrounds (communication, political science, law, etc.). This was the perfect occasion to exchange on each other’s encountered issues or success stories, and to guarantee interesting conversations during (in)formal moments.

Eventually, on Friday afternoon, after working on a two-hour team project that was presented to a jury, we reached the end of the training session. The feedbacks were unanimous and positive; most of us felt that we were given solid tools to work with in our daily tasks and that the method used would allow us to apply them effectively and immediately.

While it lasted only 2 days, I have certainly learned more than I expected and consider the information acquired as invaluable input that will serve me in my professional career and that will last a lifetime. What are the different options available to influence decisions within the institutions? Who is it important to reach out to when advocating? How do you deal with competition in the world of lobbying? At which moment should I take action? You will certainly find concrete answers to all your questions during these trainings.

Pascale Budzinksi

October edition of the EU Academy