MSc International Applied Communication students attended their annual seminar on Public Affairs in the EU Context organised by the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Stirling with the support of L’Université libre de Bruxelles.
The main aim of the two-day visit was to introduce students to practical aspects of public affairs and lobbying in the European institutions and enrich their theoretical knowledge with first-hand experience of the EU context.
On the first day, the students visited the European institutions. They had a guided tour of the European Parliament, which finished with the presentation of public affairs and lobbying practices from political decision-making perspective by Andrej Lavtar and Martine Alonso Marquis (personal assistants to Slovenian MEPs).
The students also visited the Parlamentarium and the European Commission, where they attended talks on the role of the European Commission and how it promotes the EU and EU policies.
The second day of the seminar was devoted to presentations and discussions of various aspects of public affairs practice. The students were addressed by professionals, EU experts and political decision-makers coming from very different national, career and cultural backgrounds, including Gérard Legris (Head of Unit, Transparency, Relations with Stakeholders, Secretariat General of the European Commission), Jill Craig (Deputy General Manager Edelman|The Centre), Claude Sönmez (European Aluminium Association Director for Public Affairs and Communications) and N. Peter Krammer (Editor-in-Chief of European Business Review).
The second day ended with the visit to the EEAS (European External Action Service), where Ross Church presented the service, its latest developments and its relevance for European public affairs.
MSc International Applied Communication student from Canada, Hiranya Ratnayake said: “It was a wonderful and very relevant educational opportunity that was awarded to us. Being an international student from Canada, it was interesting to see how the European Union governance operates in comparison to Canada.
“Visiting the Parliament and other institutions puts the course content in perspective since we could relate to what we had learnt. In addition, the guest speakers we had on the second day provided a thoroughly comprehensive view of Public Affairs in practice which is different to academic scholarship. Finally, going on the tour with my classmates provided an excellent opportunity for further strengthen our team and relationship building. The picturesque city and the sightseeing we got to experience was an added bonus.”