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2009 was an important year for the school.

First of all, this was the year when it took the name “ESCP Europe”,1 enabling it to highlight its European identity. It was also the year when the programmes on the different Campuses were redesigned and harmonised. Finally, it was the year in which the school’s governance charter was defined.

A Founding event for all first-year Master's Students

This is the base upon which the Dean, Pascal Morand, thought about creating a founding event for all first-year Master’s students to help them gain an understanding of the European policies that are a major part of the strategic environment for businesses.

Strong Links withe the ENA

At the time, the school had strong links with the ENA school of administration, and in particular with François-Gilles Le Theule,2 its Director of European Affairs. The ENA suggested the idea of a “life-size” European negotiation role play, giving 720 students from the 5 Campuses access to the European Parliament of Strasbourg and a better understanding of the importance and workings of the European Community environment.

Why this name?

This highly original event, named “Start@Europe”, was created with support from the ESCP Europe Foundation, the Urban Community of Strasbourg and the City of Strasbourg, who organised a pedestrian tour of the old city and a visit to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art for the students.

Three memorable days

The students met in Paris before leaving by bus for three memorable days. Once in the capital of Alsace, they attended a series of classes on European institutions and internal decision-making procedures in the European Union, then took part in negotiation simulations. The 2009 negotiations were centred on the theme of the proposal for the REACH regulation.3 The seminar was coordinated in partnership with the ENA and under the responsibility of its Academic Director, Professor Maria Koutsovoulou.

The students were then divided into different delegations in which they had a particular role to play: President of the Commission, MEP, European Parliament rapporteur, group coordinator, assessor, lobbyist, etc. and were in charge of convincing the rest of the class that their proposal was the right one, on behalf of their group. Once the final legislative report had been voted on and passed, the proposal was presented by the President of the Commission, the rapporteur and the secretary-general (roles played by ESCP Europe students) to journalists played by ESCP Europe professors and political figures.

Several Prominent Figures

To accompany the seminar, the school invited several prominent figures, including Joachim Bitterlich, former counsellor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Odile Quintin, who at the time was the Director General at the European Commission’s DG for Education and Culture. Both were won over by the school’s identity and later decided to join its faculty.

A Strong Impression

The seminar made a strong impression on the students who attended, and would be remembered as a highlight of their school years. Clotilde Merlen (2012) remembers it as a unique, fun time; a rich learning experience with exchanges in which she met students in her year that she had never met before, and who became her friends.

The words of Adrien Passant

Adrien Passant (2012) remembers the way he felt when he presented the seminar report to a full amphitheatre at the Parliament in Strasbourg, and being congratulated by Jean-Pierre Raffarin who had accepted to close the seminar by speaking to the students about his passion for State responsibilities and issues of general interest.

To finish

Start@Europe has become such an integral part of ESCP Europe that there are plans to apply to the other programmes at the school (Bachelor, Specialised Masters, MBA in International Management, etc.), but that is another story.

1 The school was known as “ESCP-EAP” from 1999 to 2009.

2 François-Gilles Le Theule later became an Affiliate Professor at ESCP Europe and President of the Labex Refi executive committee>

3 Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals