This course introduces students to the theory and practice of influencing public policy, with a focus on the new European Union (EU) climate proposal for a “European Green Deal”. European citizens, world leaders, climate scientists, and Greta Thunberg’s movement of #schoolstrike campaigners all expect the EU to be a leader in action against climate change. The new president of the European Commission has tasked her most senior vice president to develop ‘in the first 100 days’ a major new policy proposal that EU heads of government can adopt at their March 2020 or June 2020 summit to ensure a political commitment to a highly ambitious ‘net-zero’ climate target and a green economic growth plan. This commitment would enable EU diplomats to work with other countries to prepare a strong outcome for the next UN climate conference in December 2020 (UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow).
The new EU climate policy proposal is of high salience for European citizens, not only because it can set world trends on climate change, but also because doing so will mean major changes in how the European economy develops, and, therefore, impact on many diverse interest groups. There will be winners and losers from a Green Deal: among economic sectors, among different generations and social classes, and among EU countries.
The course aims to equip participants with an understanding of the EU policy process and its access points for interest groups; the ability to identify and assess the relevant actors, issues and timing of the climate proposal; a critical perspective on interest groups’ opportunities, constraints and strategic choices; the capacity to interrogate theoretical arguments from a practical perspective; hands-on experience through in-class exercises and assignments that ‘shadow’ the work of a ‘real world’ climate activist in Brussels.