“Preparing for the incoming German presidency” – Impressions of the EU Academy

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On the 10th of March, together with other participants from like-minded organisations, I was warmly welcomed by Marc, Lucy and Joost at Holland House to gear up for the 2020 German Council Presidency for what would be an interactive and intensive two-day training.

Although I have some experience in EU advocacy, I never studied the EU institutions during my education. I lacked concrete insight into the different institutions and had little knowledge on the interactions between the Commission, Parliament and Council. Hence, I was happy to learn that the first half day of the course introduced us to this ‘golden triangle’ and the EU policy cycle. Marc and Joost took us on a journey to explore the EU ‘tube map’ and provided us with all the essentials of EU policy-making and legislative procedures, and on how to leverage our influencing opportunities at EU and national level. After lunch we had the chance to have an informal discussion with an EP Group advisor – this was a very useful opportunity to get some insider tips!

The second day of the training zoomed in on the Council of the EU and the upcoming German Presidency. Overall, I have had very little experience working with the Council so a deep dive into the how the Council is structured and takes decisions was very welcome. As on the first day, this profound theoretical basis was complemented by first-hand experience from two attachés who were invited to give us valuable insight on how they interact with stakeholders and how CSOs could effectively approach them. Last, but not least, it was time for us to turn all we had learned into practice through an extensive group exercise in which we used all the tools that were presented to us over the past two days.

This training was the perfect combination of knowledge sharing, informal conversations with insiders and practical exercises. I would highly recommend it to everyone seeking to sharpen their advocacy skills!

Jill van Coppenolle (Oxfam)

March edition of the EU Academy