The yearly IELPO field trip to Brussels gave students the opportunity to meet with decision-makers from the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, but also with stakeholders from think-tanks and lobbies. Meetings at the Permanent Mission delegations to Brussels were organized upon students' requests.
The first meeting was held at the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), an independent and non-profit policy research think tank dedicated to trade policy and other international economic policy issues of importance to Europe, where Ms. Lisa Brandt, Trade Policy Analyst, presented ECIPE's work and main activities.
Students then had a meeting at the Council of the European Union where Mr. Michael Bishop, the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union (Legal Service), talked about the political role of the Council, its tasks and proceedings with the European Commission. After the EU council, the group went to APCO Worldwide, a public affairs and strategic communication firm, where Mr. Antonio Costa (Consultant) and Mr. Colin Mackay (Director), gave concrete examples of APCO work undertaken by in Europe and an overview of its global presence and activities. It was a very interactive and enriching session.
On Tuesday 15 May, The Association of European Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurochambers) received the IELPO group at its premises where Mr. Dominic Boucsein, Junior Advisor to the International Affairs division, explained Eurochambers' activities and its important role in being a link between the private sector and the European institutions. He then focused on his expertise in the Europe and North-America (USA and Canada) commercial exchange. Simultaneously, part of the group went with Altagracia Cuevas, IELPO Coordinator, to a meeting at Altius, a leading independent law firm in Belgium were students were exposed to its daily work. After the lunch break, a meeting at the European Commission information point was held with the help of Mr. Lothar Ehring, Assistant to the Deputy Director-General Mr. Péter Balás (DG Trade). Three speakers gave students insights on how trade policy is shaped at the political level (Mr. Frank Hoffmeister), dispute settlement in RTAs (Mr. Fernando Smartos) and the EU perspective on the Doha Round (Mr. Paolo Garzotti).
Finally, on their last day, students had different presentations at the Catalan Government's premises. Ms. Imma Buldu gave the students the welcome speech and presented the history of the presence of the Catalan Government Delegation in Brussels and its main activities. Then, Mr. Rui Cunha (APEX-Brazilian Business Affairs) and Mr. Pascal Kerneis (European Services Forum) talked about their work as lobbyists in Brussels and the importance of networking. Mr. Joan Prat, former Ambassador of Spain to the NATO and current Representative of the Catalan Government in Brussels, then shared with students his views on the current situation in Europe.
After lunch, IELPO attended its first meeting at the World Customs Organisation. Mr. Libing Wei, the Technical Attaché at the Capacity Building Directorate welcomed the group and gave a presentation about the WCO foundation history and current work. Then, Mr. Leonardo Maceda, Technical Officer from the Tariff and Trade Affairs Directorate, presented the activities undertaken by the WCO using references to art and literature. During the break, the IELPO students had a short visit of the WCO building. A Q&A session with Mr. Wei, Mr. Maceda, and Mr. Grant Busby concluded the session.
IELPO students from this year's edition also had the opportunity to meet with former IELPOers who are currently working in Brussels.