tellUs: EU Environmental Policy Lab

tellUs is a joint project between the College of Europe and the European Commission which offers students a unique opportunity to participate in high-level policy making. Selected students will be able to interact with EU officials on the future proofing of environmental policy, in a common effort to advance the European agenda towards greater sustainability.

The aim of this project is for students to deliver reflection papers and strategic recommendations to high level policy makers ahead of the European Parliament elections and the Commission’s new mandate in 2019.

The project is the result of the passion for environmental issues of two College alumni from different generations, Ms Joanna Drake (Deputy Director-General at DG ENV, De Rougemont promotion) and Ms Natacha Tullis (Parliamentary Assistant at the EP, Falcone and Borsellino promotion). With the support of a strong team, they have brought about a partnership between the two institutions, involving students in a process of reflection on the future direction of EU environment policy as it advances towards the achievement of the 2030 UN Sustainability Goals. 

Mega trends such as digitalisation, biodiversity loss, globalisation, depletion of natural resources and population growth requires continual assessment of the current environmental strategies, in order to design a relevant set of policies to address these issues.

The speed of those changes and new challenges can rapidly lead to a situation where the environmental system reaches the limits of stability and degrades irreversibly.

  • The resilience of the EU environmental acquis is being more and more challenged by mega trends.  What are the new challenges pushing the resilience of the EU environmental policies to its limits?
  • The design of policy-making is also challenged by the need for more synergies and integrated policy making. How can policy recommendations lay the basis for renewed, more integrated and better designed policies in light of these mega-trends?

tellUs includes a variety of learning tools. It kicks off with a series of lectures by high-level speakers to be held at the College of Europe in October, presenting the topics and inviting students to take a creative approach to the issues involved. This initial phase will inform students about the EU’s environmental actions and policy processes, giving them the background they need before they focus more closely on a particular subject.

A seminar involving students, College alumni and officials of the Commission’s Environment Directorate will also be held in Brussels. Students will then attend ‘fireplace’ sessions, where guest speakers from the EU institutions will visit College residences in October-November. These informal chats will be interactive sessions designed to help student better identify their research topics.

At the close of the project in spring 2019, groups of students will deliver reflection papers on the future of EU environment policies and share these recommendations with high-level policymakers at the European Commission. The papers will be presented at a special event at DG Environment, before being published on the Commission website.

If you want to provide tangible support to the work of the Commission, and help develop the future orientation of EU environment strategies, then why not get involved? Your ideas might be a breath of fresh air for EU policy – and they might even help shape a future EU Environmental Action Plan.

The name "tellUs" has its roots in the ancient Roman tradition. In fact, the Latin word tellus means the Earth, and expresses the deep environmental character of this project. Moreover, in the Roman mythology Tellus was also the name of the goddess of the earth. At the same time, this word is also composed by the English locution "tell us", reflecting the core idea of having Commission's officials being advised by CoE's students on future environmental strategies.  

For more information contact thijs.vandenbussche [at] coleurope.eu (Thijs VANDENBUSSCHE) and Rachele TESEI.

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