The September 2020 EU Academy ‘Advocating for the public good in the wake of the coronavirus crisis’ gathered sixteen participants from diverse fields such as climate, sustainable development, and human rights. This was one of my first social experiences since the Coronavirus pandemic hit in March!
Despite having learned about EU affairs at university, I lacked concrete knowledge about the EU institutions and on how NGOs can strategize to effectively engage with EU processes. Though I am still processing a lot of the information, I am confident that those two days of training have helped me acquire a great deal of practical and applicable knowledge thanks to the two well-experienced trainers – Marc and Joost, as well as insiders from the EU institutions.
Learning about the functioning of the Council was undeniably the main highlight for me. We discussed questions such as: how does the Council work and what actions can we take to influence its decisions?, who are the most strategic people to reach out to when doing advocacy?, and what is the best timing to act? I learnt how to choose my battles wisely and stay motivated to fight for long-term change.
Understanding how to influence the Council is highly relevant for my work at the European Network for Central Africa (EurAc), a network of 36 European civil society organisations advocating for peace, development, and the respect of human rights in the Great Lakes region. Our focus is mainly on foreign policy, an area where power lies with Member States.
Like many NGOs and other networks, we have limited resources, so we are always trying to maximise our impact through networking, coalition building and effective strategizing. As we are in the middle of reviewing our strategy, this training has equipped me with the right know-hows at the right time. Now I feel I have the skills to succeed in EU advocacy and transmit my knowledge to our network and beyond!