From 1 to 4 March 2021, the students of the EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies programme engaged in stimulating exchanges with international and EU policy-makers, civil society representatives and think tank experts during a virtual study trip. The many events replaced the annual spring study trip to Geneva, which current measures against the COVID-19 pandemic had rendered impossible.
The programme consisted of three main components: First, students participated in discussions with high-level speakers from international organisations and EU institutions. Second, a full day was dedicated to interactive exchanges with experts in small groups focusing on specific areas of EU external action, ranging from security and crisis response to trade, development cooperation, climate and energy policies as well as democracy promotion. Third, several sessions of career-related talks allowed students to learn more about job opportunities such as Junior Professional Officers (JPO) in various international organisations, Junior Professionals in EU Delegations (JPD) or the possibilities of joining national diplomatic services, and to exchange with alumni about their professional paths.
Among the high-level speakers who kindly dedicated their time to interact with the students were Helga Maria SCHMID, Secretary General of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) in Europe, Jens STOLTENBERG, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as Ambassador Susanna TERSTAL, EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process. Rector Mogherini joined the guests and students for some of the exchanges. Students also engaged in interesting discussions with the Heads of EU Delegations in Beijing and Geneva, EU Ambassadors Nicolas CHAPUIS, Walter STEVENS and João Aguiar MACHADO.
Among the many other EU experts that contributed to the study trip were, for instance, Koen DOENS, Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for International Partnerships; Fabio AGOSTINI, Operation Commander EUNAVFORMED Operation IRINI; Amador SANCHEZ RICO, Head of Division ‘Strategic Communications’ at the European External Action Service; and Bernd LANGE, MEP and Chair of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.
The Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies would like to warmly thank all the partners for their kind cooperation, and all participants for bringing themselves actively into the debates over the four days.