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Florence School of Transnational Governance

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

Programme Start Date



17, 18, 19 October 2024

Delivery mode



Palazzo Buontalenti


1.300 €

Discount options available

See the fees section

Application Deadline

17/09/2024 - 23:59 CEST

Programme Description

The European Commission occupies a central role in EU policymaking, especially as an engine of EU integration. Still, the intricacies of its internal structure and decision-making processes can often pose significant challenges, making it increasingly difficult to understand and, therefore, navigate them effectively. In its third edition, this practice-oriented executive training course sheds light on the black box of policymaking within the EU executive.

The programme highlights three essential vantage points: weaving together the academic analysis of Commission governance and operations; the “insider’s view” intimately acquainted with its workings; and the viewpoint of an “external” representing those seeking to influence the Commission’s trajectory.

Participants will get the opportunity to exchange views and discuss latest developments and trends with campaigners who have a proven track-record of impact and high-level policymakers, including former European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso who will be sharing his experience in navigating leadership challenges in the Commission over the last decade.

By emphasising a blend of the latest data, real-world case studies, and ongoing policy developments, this course provides a unique opportunity to not only acquire knowledge but also to cultivate and hone skills designed to make tangible impact. From audience-mapping and policy monitoring to effective communication with EU officials, the participants will be equipped with the necessary tools and skills to develop effective engagement strategies with the European Commission.

For a detailed schedule and an overview of learning activities please stay tuned for the final programme agenda.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this programme, participants will be able to:

  • Show concrete understanding of the ways that the Commission works ‘in practice’ and of the latest academic “broad picture” views of the European Commission data from recent studies;
  • Design campaign strategies that build alliances inside and outside the European Commission;
  • Contribute to the European Commission’s public consultations and draft position papers and memos aimed at Commission officials;
  • Navigate the internal policy development cycle of the European Commission and deepen skills around the audience mapping of its officials;
  • Exchange views and discuss latest developments and trends with high-level policymakers and campaigners who have a proven track-record of impact.

Learning methods

  • Interactive lectures from leading 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 make an impact;
  • Structured discussions around key questions regarding the European Commission’s role in EU policymaking;
  • In-class assignments and peer-to-peer learning via group work.

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 working 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

  • This training course will take place in a fully residential mode from 17 to 19 October 2024 at the EUI campus of Palazzo Buontalenti in downtown Florence, Italy. Selected applicants will be expected to be present on the EUI campus on the days of the course.
  • The lunches and coffee breaks during the residential part of the programme as well as social activities, will be provided by the EUI. The fee does not cover travel and/or accommodation costs. Our events team can assist you in finding the best options for stay in the city.
  • The programme will include approximately 12-14 hours of in-session training. Participants will be enrolled to the EUI Virtual Learning Environment (Brightspace) in order to access the materials of the course. Some pre-training readings might be necessary.
  • Participants who successfully complete this course will receive a Certificate of Attendance from the Florence School of Transnational Governance.


Previous edition

This executive training course builds on the previous successful editions of 2022 and 2023, which brought together participants from organisations such as the European Parliament, Honda Motor Europe, Bloomberg, FTI Consulting, three Perm Reps, EFPIA, the World Bank, and other private and public sector representatives. The participants wrote the following about the course:

- “It is a wonderful intimate format that allows meaningful discussions with people from different backgrounds and horizons. It is the right environment to gain a better understanding of the EU Commission and learn from people's experiences, struggles, and successes.”

Simon Terwagne, FleishmanHillard EU

- “The extra successful ingredient is that the speakers are of excellent quality, both knowledgeable and pedagogically skilled, and the participants and interactions among us made the training course extremely interesting and useful.”

Michela Dell'Anno Boulton, European Spallation Source (ESS)


  • 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 Aaron McLoughlin

    Aaron McLoughlin



  • Portrait picture of Claus Haugaard Sørensen

    Claus Haugaard Sørensen

    Former Head of Cabinet and Director-General

    European Commission

  • Portrait picture of Ulrike Schmülling

    Ulrike Schmülling

    Director of EU Political Relations, Lanxess | Executive and Business Coach

Scientific Coordinator


Fee 1.300 €

Early bird and groups 1.170 € [ -10%]

Affiliation price 1.105 € [ -15%]

Early bird and groups

The early-bird discount (10%) is applicable for registrations by 17 June 2024 at 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.


Application deadline:
17/09/2024 - 23:59CEST

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