In order to find out and understand what students have learned during the Study trip to Brussels, short interviews with six students have been conducted.
The question that has been asked focused on the key takeaways from the study trip that included visits and presentations of various institutions. The students had the privilege to visit and talk to representatives of the following institutions: SwissCore, European Commission, MedTech Europe, Mission of Switzerland to the EU (Swiss Confederation), Digitaleurope and Economiesuisse.
The following question has been asked to six students:
What are, in your eyes, the key takeaways from the study trip to Brussels? (Things that you have learned, surprised you, or were new to you) Please formulate your answer in one to maximum four sentences.
“I wasn’t aware that the EU was located in Brussels. For me, this trip highlighted how interconnected all of Europe is with all the different collaborating representatives.” – Emily Reddish
“The work of lobbyists is very important for different industry sectors. Depending on cultural differences, their work is differently valued. European regulation is difficult and it takes a long time to implement – also, in national laws. On the other hand, it “opens doors” for companies, due to the fact that Europe is a huge single market.” – Martin Müller
“I was not aware lobbying for countries’ interest was a thing, and that it was so developed and transparently explained. “ – Clément Herpe
“I’ve been surprised by the impact of Brexit. During our discussions, experts always referred to it that it would affect regulations, policies and the EU system. Even though I was aware of the influence, I think speaking with experts made it even more realistic to me, that the EU is going under changes.” – Anne-Sophie Couvez
“What surprised me when being in Brussels and listening to the presentations, was that many organizations go there in order to execute their influence and to represent an economy or industry. Francois Baur, who is a lobbyist for Swiss industries, even referred to it as “the dark force”. A lot of decisions are taken in an informal environment, so I got the opinion that networking is part of these people’s daily business.” – Ara Ankeshian
“I was impressed about the concentration of power in Brussels and the number of people involved. Moreover, I have learned how lobbying works and how lobbies represent Switzerland in Europe. Finally, it was important to learn the role that the politics play for the medtech and automotive industries.” – Sofia Velez
To conclude the individual opinions of six students about the study trip gathered through interviews, it can be said that all students were impressed by the power and force of lobbying as well as the institutional constellations that are present in Brussels. In addition, the interconnectivity of each EU country was found as crucial, also when looking at the recent case of Brexit. The study trip surely enriched the knowledge about various European constellations of all students and contributed an important part for the academic development of each individual.
By Florian Graf