15. February 2023

MES goes to Brussels and Luxembourg 2023 MES goes to Brussels and Luxembourg 2023

With the study trip of the Master of European Studies to Brussels and Luxembourg between 30 January and 02 February, the students gained valuable insights into the functioning of the European Union and its institutions. At the same time, they received important information about career and entry opportunities with the EU as an employer and were also able to benefit from the testimonials of our many alumni who are based and work in Brussels.

Master 2023 Bruessel Lux en
Master 2023 Bruessel Lux en © ZEI
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By visiting the European Commission, the European Committee of the Regions, the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank, the Euratom Supply Agency and the European House of History, our MES students had the opportunity to visit many important places where EU policy is actively shaped.

The field trip started with a visit to the House of European History, where the students experienced a virtual tour through the different stages of European integration. The questions of whether there is a common European past and what holds the continent together were explored in a visually appealing way, with numerous exhibits and exciting video material. From the ancient origins to the phase of nation-state formation, industrialisation, democratisation, the two world wars, reconstruction and unification efforts, the students were able to experience European history structured according to six thematic floors.

The program continued with more topical and practical relevance in the European Commission, where the students first attended a lecture by Christian Yves Krappitz, one of our 2005 graduates. He told them about his personal career path, his career start and many different exciting stations within the EU institutions that he has already passed through. Among other things, he spoke about his role within the Brexit task force, where he was involved in the implementation of the Brexit. This personal report was complemented by the presentation of Solene David, from the area "Starting a Career at the European Institutions", who informed in detail about the various career opportunities at the EU. For example, there are several EU internships where the best candidates are selected in advance in an elaborate and lengthy selection process at the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), who informed us in detail about the various career opportunities in the EU.

Next, Daniela Stoycheava (alumna 2009) gave a comprehensive overview of the EU's most important long-term project, the European Green Deal. As the Commission's press officer for the environment, she is responsible for communicating the main measures that the EU is adopting to create an eco-social economy that is above all emission-free and sustainable in its economic processes and socially acceptable.

During the visit, Georgie Dimitrov, ZEI alumnus from 2005, also gave a particularly interesting insight into the work of the European Commission. As head of the Innovation and EIT Unit and head of the project team for updating the Digital Education Action Plan, he spoke about the EU's most important efforts in the field of long overdue digitalisation. In particular, the highly topical implications due to the recent release of extremely efficient AI systems such as the Chat GPT gave the whole issue even more importance and explosiveness. Particularly interesting for our students in the discussion were the comprehensive consequences for the world of work and education at schools and universities.

The next institution on the schedule was the European Committee of the Regions, where Rafael Mondelaers enlightened about the importance of a regional committee in the European Union and the Maastricht treaty as the background of the founding of the committee. He introduced the students to the principles of subsidiarity and vividly described the influence of the regions on EU legislation.

In the early evening, the students participated in a discussion panel on lobbying and journalism's perspective on the EU. Organised and moderated by our dear alumnus from 2022, Koen Verhelst, who is know a correspondent at trade MLex in Brussels, they got into an engaging discussion with Tristan Suffys, alumnus from 2003 and secretary general at Eurogypsum, and Joanna Sopinska who is also a senior correspondent at trade MLex, about corruption in the European Union and the legal limits of lobbying.

On the third day of the excursion our students visited the European Parliament, where we had the opportunity to meet Katharina von Schnurbein, ZEI alumna from 1999, who spoke as the coordinator on combating anti Semitism and fostering Jewish life in the Unit about the ongoing problem of anti-Semitism. Against the backdrop of the current war in Ukraine, which is justified among other things by the alleged Nazi orientation of the Ukrainian president and his government, anti-Semitism and its abuse for propaganda purposes is more present than it has been for a long time. Especially the fight against hatespeach on the internet, which is to be combated by the EU through the recently passed Digital Service Act, is one of the most important developments reported on. Mrs. von Schnurbein also gave very personal and interesting insights into the compatibility of career and private life.

Afterwards, our students got a chance to talk to MEP Daniel Freund, who gave us exciting insights into the work of a parliamentarian and his fight against corruption in the EU. Especially the handling of the recent scandal around the Vice-President of the EU Parliament Eva Kali or the first-time use of the rule of law mechanism against Hungary were particularly exciting insights. Furthermore, Mr Freund told us about his ideas and hopes for the further development of the EU. Afterwards, we were able to visit the plenary hall of the European Parliament and witness the beginning of the plenary session. Shortly afterwards, we left for Luxembourg.

The program in Brussels was framed by an evening meeting with some of our alumni in a bar, where they once again had the opportunity to receive first-hand information on various careers within the EU and to make contacts in a relaxed atmosphere. Of course, our students also used their free time between and after the visits to the different institutions to experience and visit Brussels on their own.

In Luxembourg, the students visited the European Investment Bank and had also the opportunity to meet some of our Luxembourg based alumni. Dalibor Rogan, a 2009 alumnus, told us about his personal career path. Matthieu Betrand, Head of the Mandate Management Unit and alumnus from 2007, explained the role of the Bank within the institutional structure of the EU. He very clearly outlined the important function for the implementation and financing of the EU's important projects. Afterwards, Cristina Cacciari explained the career opportunities at the European Investment Bank in detail and the many advantages of living and working in an international city like Luxembourg.

Our last stop was a visit to the Euratom Supply Agency, where Stefanos Kardaras, Senior Expert - Legal and Strategy Adviser to the Director-General of ESA, explained the specifics of the Euratom Treaty. He also presented interesting developments in the field of nuclear fusion. He also gave us a brief insight into the EU's taxonomy rules, which were revised last year and which, among other things, state that nuclear energy will be listed as green energy.

We hope that this excursion has helped our students this year to become part of our extensive network after successfully completing their studies at ZEI and possibly start their career in a European institution. Our special thanks go to our alumni in Brussels and Luxembourg, Tristan Suffys, Nikolas Kockelmann, Katharina von Schnurbein, Dalibor Rogan, Johannes Noak, Christian-Yves Krappitz, Daniela Stoycheva, Georgi Dimitrov, Koen Verhelst and Matthieu Bertrand and all the other speakers who took their time to meet our students and share their experiences with us.

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