Understanding Europe: Why It Matters and What It Can Offer You

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Understanding Europe: Why It Matters and What It Can Offer You



EU was quite a complex organisation to me previously, and now I could have more idea on how EU is functioning.

As the NGO I’m currently working in is headquartered in UK, sometimes our HQ share newsletters regarding policy/agreement making news from EU institutions – which was confused to me sometimes and now I could have more idea about what is going on, and which process it’s currently in.

p.s. According to the course announcement, I’m one of the 1,835 students who have finished this course and earned an statement of accomplishment – out of 41,000+ students enrolled across 196 countries.

About the Course

Regardless of where you live, the European Union has a large, yet often unnoticed, impact on many aspects of your everyday life. Whether you are traveling, eating, working, doing business, shopping, surfing the Internet or breathing, all these activities are largely shaped by the EU.  As a result no global citizen, business leader, lawmaker, lobbyist or student can effectively operate in Europe or in the world without a solid understanding of this unique laboratory of integration. While the EU is often depicted as a monstrous bureaucratic creature, condemned to irrelevance by the emerging economies, it remains the most accomplished experiment of economic, social and political integration in human history. In 50 years the EU accomplished what other countries took centuries to realize.

Given its inherent complexities, Understanding Europe aims at popularizing the intricacies of the European Union system to promote greater awareness of the opportunities it offers you. Ultimately, you will not only better grasp the applicable framework for any European economic or social activity you engage in, but you will also participate on the EU stage. By confronting you with several current EU policy proposals, you will be able to ‘have a say’ in the EU policymaking process. We want to empower you as a citizen and business operator to maximize your rights and opportunities in today’s Europe.

Understanding Europe is structured upon some basic yet critical questions about the EU’s purpose and legitimacy : why does the EU exist? How does it work? What can it offer you? The course then analyzes the European public sphere by focusing on its main actors (the European Parliament, the Commission, the Council, the Court of Justice of the EU) and the role European citizens play in influencing Europe. We then move to the Union’s powers (what can the EU do? How far can it go? Do Members States have some instruments to “block” EU action? Can EU citizens challenge EU action?) by discussing the limits to its action and describing some of its policies. The course then analyzes the role and opportunities citizens and all stakeholders may have in shaping EU policies through public consultation, the European Citizens Initiative and other forms of participatory democracy. In a further step, we will analyze what the EU is doing for you regardless of where you are based in the world. Finally, by taking stock of what you have learned in the previous weeks, we will look at what you can do for and in Europe.

Throughout the whole course, participants will be confronted with real-life examples of EU action. EU affairs professionals will share their personal EU experiences and tell us about their EU jobs. You can interact with the instructor and other participants, share your opinions, question the instructor’s assumptions and hence shape the course’s content.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Why the European Union?

Setting the scene. An overview of the EU’s impact on your daily life, taking a critical perspective on the EU’s purpose but also highlighting the opportunities it offers.

Week 2: Who is the European Union?

Putting a face on the EU. Who is it? Who are its main actors? By whom is it composed?­ You will identify who decides in Europe and learn how to interact to its main actors.

Week 3: What the EU can do?

Analyzing the EU’s powers. What can it do? How far can it go? In which policies is it involved? The EU’s major fields of intervention. What does the EU do for trade, agriculture and innovation?

Week 4: How does the EU work?

The EU’s means of action. How does it work? Who does what? What are the strengths and weaknesses?

Week 5: What can the EU do for you?

From freedom of movement to funding opportunities, immigration policies, establishment, level playing field through competition law, getting you a job.

Week 6: What you can do for Europe?

The initiatives and instruments fostering civic engagement in the EU (public consultations, ECIs, Ombudsman, etc). In other words, the toolbox of the empowered citizen.

Week 7 and 8: Free time for the exam!

Week 7 and 8 will not provide you any additional course material but will allow you to take the final exam when it is the most suitable for you during these 2 weeks.

My Certificate:


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