Next level of knowledge – I learned more from this programme than I have from years of studying political science. That might be slightly provocative – not least towards my dear university – but of course, in reality there is no conflict. Academic knowledge provides a general structure, which serves its purpose. From this training, I instead got a new level of knowledge of the institutions and how to work towards them: more detailed, more actionable, and more powerful.
High-level speakers – The level of the guest speakers, the quality of their contributions and the generosity of their attention were very high. In the constructive and open conversations we were able to have, we discussed details on how to interact with the EU institutions. The perspectives of the guests gave us the possibility of directly applying our new knowledge to their respective institutions.
Practical exercise – Going from theory to actual practice is always important. In the end, after many capacity-building sessions, the training ended with two intense hours of creating an advocacy strategy on a hypothetical scenario, using all the tools we had been given. Marco was a ruthless exercise leader, which forced us to forget any eventual insecurities regarding our own capacity. I hope and believe that this was empowering for everyone taking part – at least it was for me.
Timing is everything – The obvious general take-away on successful advocacy was very clearly and concisely communicated: “deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person”. I’d like to emphasize the importance of “at the right time” in combination with the extensive navigation guide on the EU policy cycle that we received. It was made very clear that once you are late to the table at a certain important moment in the legislative procedure, you might not be able to get back in the game. So, in the short-term, make yourself very aware of crucial next steps within the institutions and act accordingly – in the long-term, learn how to play the long game of the EU policy cycle in different issues.
The Commission’s mission – I’d like to single it out: the presentation of the processes within the European Commission and of how to engage with them was thorough, the many details forming a collective take-away. Interesting and educational, but also empowering in a way for all of us who currently work on the ground in Brussels to understand the importance of engaging directly, and to see the opportunities out there. Many participants of the course, including myself, represent networks and the interest of our members. As such, we have a duty to enhance our capacity on working effectively towards the Commission, which is harder to do from outside Brussels.
I would definitely recommend everyone in Brussels working for a better world to take part in this excellent training programme!
Adam Leckius (Climate Action Network Europe)
October edition of the EU Academy