Trip to Brussels

Economics and Politics pupils discover the inner workings of the EU

During Exeat (half-term), Economics and Politics pupils boarded the Eurostar and embarked on an educational adventure to learn more about Brexit, the European Union (EU) and European Parliament. 

Trip leader Mr John Troy describes the inspiring trip:

Thirty-one members of the School, together with Mrs Higgins, Mr Troy, Mr Reynolds and Mr Tink, arrived at Brussels Midi station on 15 October 2018 to spend five days learning about the main institutions of the EU and views on Brexit from the centre of the EU. We were lucky that our visit coincided with one of the slightly panicked trips arranged by Theresa May to keep the negotiations on track and make the concessions always required by the Commission.

Over the five days in Brussels we spent time at the Council, the Commission, and Parliament (where we met with our MEPs Richard Ashworth and Daniel Hannan). We also took part in a role play of the Serbia/Kosovo negotiations, running the EEAS (the EU’s foreign office) as well as having meetings with Matthew Taylor, the CEO of SA Bekaert NV (a Belgian multinational employing over 40,000 people worldwide), and Sir Jonathan Faull KCMG (OC) who was Director General for Internal Markets and subsequently the task force preparing for Brexit. We also had visits to NATO along with a visit to a European School, winning a debate but drawing in a football match.

The visits to the institutions were as exciting as expected. The officials came over as highly intelligent and doing their best to help the Union. However, two discussions stood out. Firstly, with Matthew Taylor and Thomas Tindermans (the son of a Belgian PM who is a consultant for companies looking for advice on EU). Tindermans spoke to us at the request of an Old Carthusian (former pupil), Jeremy Jennings, who helped in setting up the trip. They both reflected on the way Britain's leaders seems to be drifting into a position which could damage the economy. The second was a broader debate with Jonathan Faull and Luis Enriquez (a parent who is a former McKinsey partner in Brussels) in which they considered the options now available in the Brexit negotiations.

I cannot finish the report without mentioning the wonderful dinner at Chateau St Anne, Jeremy Jennings’ club in Brussels, which ended the visit. An eighteenth century mansion in the Brussels suburbs which provided both a splendid setting and delicious food for our final evening.   

We came back to London wiser about the way that The EU operates and more concerned at both the poverty of the referendum debate, and the subsequent negotiation tactics.

Thank you to the teachers and the pupils. It takes real cooperation to produce such a splendid educational visit.

 

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