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Master's in Management Students Take Over European Parliament

European Parliament in Brussels

The best way to learn is by doing and this statement couldn’t be more relevant than in business education where the theories and functions acquired can be much better understood through experiential learning.

With this in mind, ESCP Business School’s Master’s in Management students travelled to the European Parliament in Brussels last month for the 11th edition of ESCP’s Designing Europe seminar. 

During the two-day seminar, students took on different roles held within the European Parliament and participated in a mock legislative process to discuss the EU Green Deal.

Whether they were acting as MEPs, members of the Commission, or the Council, students were able to get to grips with the European institutions while working on the European Green Pact – a topical issue affecting the European parliamentary agenda today.

In the thick of it

During the event, I sat in on a few different committee groups to hear their discussions and choices of resolutions to take forward to the grand vote on the EU Green Deal which would be held in the Hemicycle in front of the entire European Parliament and its spectators.

Harsh Karania, president of the budget committee, said: “As it has been laid out in the new Green Deal, the EU wants to be the first region/continent to be a carbon neutral or carbon positive continent by 2050.

“Today, the debates and the discussions are to come up with possible ways to allocate the budget and raise funds so that we can reach these goals sooner than 2050 if possible.”

An event like this gets students closer to the action. Harsh added: “As Master’s in Management students, you really need to be hyperaware of the situation in the geo-political world around you, of the new developments happening.

“You have to come up with ways, you have to debate, you have to know the inner functioning of such an important body on the global stage.

“This will also help in the future when we graduate to make smart decisions because we know how it works in the European Parliament, and how this affects decisions on the greater stage too.”

Challenging perspectives

Before the seminar, students undertake online courses on how European Parliament works; the history of Europe, its founding and how it works; and which powers govern it. Similarly, the students must research about the subject and prepare for their role in their given party.

Isabella Zanotti who was placed in the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Party in the economy committee group said: “It was challenging because they are very extreme.

“When the moderator explained what we had to do, he said ‘The Green Party is really extreme in what they want, and they don’t want to compromise.’

“I’m a very compromising person, I’m always in the middle so it was challenging in that perspective, but it was interesting.”

Rim Mrabet who was in the Internal Marketing and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee group said: “It can get a bit heated between the parties. I think it’s because everyone believes in their point of view and wants to get it across, so you have to go back and forth a lot between members.”

Importance of experiential learning

Being able to participate in an event of this nature can only promote personal growth, intellectual understanding and confidence, which participants (both students and industry professionals) agreed with.

Patricia Galler of the IMCO committee said: “I think it’s been a good experience of learning how the European Parliament actually works.

“You can picture people sitting here and debating, thinking of good solutions, and how hard it is actually because you have so many different opinions and countries. It’s really hard to find a common ground.

“I think it’s fun debating, stating your position and opinion.”

Rim added: “I learned I have some set ideas and it’s good to challenge them sometimes.

“The parties on the right, although I disagree with them, came across with points that were interesting which made me think more about my ideas.

“It’s interesting to debate because it gives you more perspective, and it also helps you go further in your points and your arguments, so it’s always good to be open.”

Isabella also enjoyed the experience but thought having an active MEP or committee member working, so students could watch them in their day-to-day work would have been beneficial too. She said: “To see someone in action would be interesting, as Michel Barnier’s talk about Brexit negotiations was very interesting.”

What do the professionals think?

Within each committee group, students were overseen by experts in the field, working as an advisor and bringing industry experience and knowledge to guide the MiM students where necessary.

Stéphane Saurel, Head of Unit at the European Investment Bank (EIB) oversaw the budget committee group and described them as a top performer group.

He said: “I’m involved to help the students to get a resolution as close as possible to the real-life of the European Parliament, because the game is to try to get a resolution adopted by the students.”

European Parliament is an intricate governing body, with many functions and agencies. So just how beneficial is this roleplay?

Stéphane said: “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. It’s really great that ESCP organizes it; I think it’s the only school offering such an experience to students.

“I participated in this experience in previous years and it’s quite amazing that students are really involved in the process, gaining deep knowledge about what is going on, which they will have to do in their job in the future. They will have to influence what is going on in Europe about many regulations impacting on their day-to-day business as tomorrow’s leaders.”

The main focus of the event was of course coming to a resolution on the EU Green deal, an important part of the European agenda today.

Stéphane said: “What they will learn will be useful in their future, to help them understand how things are organized here in Brussels, how they can influence things, and they will also realize how difficult it is to decide with 27 member states and 705 members of the European parliament in the decision-making process.” 

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Written by Niamh Ollerton
Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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