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Florence School of Transnational Governance

Unboxing the Commission: How to Understand and Engage with the EU Executive - 2023

Programme Start Date



3 Days

Delivery mode



Palazzo Buontalenti


1.200 €

Discount options available

See the fees section

Application Deadline

07/09/2023 - 23:59 CEST

Past training, registrations closed.
Discover the 2024 edition.

Programme Description

The European Commission occupies a central role in EU policymaking as an engine of EU integration. Still, its own structure and decision-making procedures are difficult to understand and follow. Moreover, a recent article in Politico called the way the Commission communicates incomprehensible to those who do not know the EU jargon. The Commission cannot operate in a vacuum – it needs policy stakeholders to be well informed and to communicate their views on its proposals. The stakeholders themselves are highly impacted by EU decisions and want to have their voices heard. The need to bridge this divide is apparent.

To this end, this practice-oriented executive training sheds light on the black box of policymaking within the European Commission. In a unique environment, we bring together three important vantage points: the academic analysis of Commission governance and operations; the "insiders' view"; and that of an outsider whose job is to have an impact on the Commission. Former members of the Commission services, including former President José Manuel Barroso, leading academics, and campaigners who have engaged with it across a host of areas will share their in-depth knowledge and experience with the participants in an interactive way.

In addition to the latest data, case studies, and policy developments, participants also have a chance to learn and practice skills for impact. From audience mapping and policy monitoring to effective communication with EU officials, the participants gain all the tools and skills they need to develop an effective strategy for engagement with the European Commission.  

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Learning outcomes

This executive training will provide the participants with the state-of-the-art knowledge about the Commission and equip them with skills needed to engage with it. In the training, the participants can expect to:

  • Obtain a full understanding of how the European Commission works in practice.
  • Comprehend the latest academic “broad picture” views of the European Commission and data from recent studies.
  • Learn how to design a campaign strategy that builds alliances inside and outside the European Commission.
  • Learn how to effectively contribute to the European Commission’s public consultations, write position papers, and memos aimed at the Commission officials.
  • Learn how to follow the European Commission’s internal policy development cycle and do proper audience mapping of its officials.
  • Discuss the latest trends with high-level policymakers and campaigners who have a proven track-record of impact.


Learning method

  • Interactive lectures from policymakers, campaigners, and academics;
  • Case studies that will provide an in-depth understanding of the European Commission’s internal processes and ways in which advocates can have an impact on it;
  • Structured discussions around key questions regarding the European Commission’s role in EU policymaking;
  • Mini in-class assignments that will encourage group work and networking among the participants.


Who should attend

  • Public affairs specialists who seek to understand the way the European Commission works in order to better argue their policy positions at the EU level;
  • Policy advocates who seek to build their skills and networks;
  • Government representatives that interact with the European Commission;
  • Analysts and researchers who wish to update their knowledge on theories and test them against the latest policy developments;
  • Employees of EU institutions who work with or in the European Commission who wish to challenge their assumptions and discuss how the institutions could work better to respond to the demands of the public and the key stakeholders.


Information for Applicants

  • The training will take place in Florence at the EUI School of Transnational Governance (Via Cavour, 65a) on 28, 29 & 30 September 2023.
  • The training starts in the afternoon on September 28 (2 PM) and finishes in the early afternoon on September 30 (12:30 PM).
  • A general understanding of EU institutions is needed for this training that will take it to a more advanced level.
  • Course instructors will share a set of pre-readings with the participants a few weeks before the start of the training.
  • Participants are expected to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements for the duration of the residential part of the course.
  • All participants will receive a Certificate of Attendance from the EUI School of Transnational Governance.


Previous edition

This executive training builds on the successful first edition that took place in May 2022. This programme brought together 17 participants from organisations such as the European Parliament, Honda Motor Europe, FTI Consulting, three Perm Reps, EFPIA, the World Bank, and other private and public sector representatives. The participants wrote the following about the course:

  • “I learned how to monitor the formation of EU policies right from the beginning, and developed soft skills on how to engage with the officials effectively.”
  • “After this training I will revise my advocacy strategy and follow the practical steps provided by the speakers.”
  • “This is *the* definitive course for anyone seeking to engage with the European Commission. My assumptions and strategies have been challenged, and the wealth of knowledge imparted has simply blown me away.”


  • Portrait picture of José Manuel Durão Barroso

    José Manuel Durão Barroso

    Part-time Professor

    Florence School of Transnational Governance

  • Portrait picture of Gaia Taffoni

    Gaia Taffoni

    Teaching Associate

    Florence School of Transnational Governance

  • Portrait picture of Claus Haugaard Sørensen

    Claus Haugaard Sørensen

    Former Head of Cabinet and Director-General

    European Commission

  • Portrait picture of Hussein Kassim

    Hussein Kassim


    ESRC Centre for Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia

  • Portrait picture of Aaron McLoughlin

    Aaron McLoughlin



Programme coordinators


Fee 1.200 €

Early bird and groups 1.080 € [ -10%]

Affiliation price 1.020 € [ -15%]

Early bird and groups

Early Bird Discount (10%) is applicable for registrations by 30 April 2023 - 23:59 CET.
The same discount is applicable for groups (more than three people).

Affiliation price

The affiliation discount (15%) applies for NGO staff, national civil servants and EU officials (from EU institutions and bodies), international organisations, as well as EUI alumni, and former paying participants of STG courses.

ETGN price

The course is eligible for the ETGN Certificate with 20% discount over the total fee. Find out more.

We encourage early registrations for this course as places are given on a rolling basis. 

More information about the cancellation policy applicable to this course.


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