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Understanding Europe: Why It Matters and What It Can Offer You

HEC Paris via Coursera


Regardless of where you live, the European Union not only affects your life, but may also transform it. By learning how Europe works, a new world will open up to you and
discover new jobs you never heard of.

The European Union has a large, yet often unnoticed, impact on many aspects of everybody’s life. We will analyze what the EU is doing for YOU regardless of where you live. We will also look at what YOU can do for and in Europe.

Whether you are traveling, eating, working, doing business, shopping, surfing the Internet or breathing, all these activities are largely shaped by the EU. As a result no global citizen, business leader, lawmaker, lobbyist or student can effectively operate in Europe or in the world without a solid understanding of this unique laboratory of integration.

While the EU is often depicted as a monstrous bureaucratic creature, condemned to irrelevance by the emerging economies, in 50 years it accomplished what other countries took centuries to realize. The EU remains the most accomplished experiment of economic, social and political integration in human history.

Given its inherent complexities, this Course aims at empowering you on what Europe can offer and will enable you to discover jobs and opportunities you were not aware of. Indeed, throughout the whole course, participants will be confronted with real-life examples of EU action. EU affairs professionals will share their personal EU experiences and tell us about their EU jobs. You will also be able to interact with the instructor and other participants, share your opinions, question the instructor’s assumptions and hence shape the course’s content.


  • Why the European Union?
    • Setting the scene. An overview of the EU’s impact on your daily life, taking a critical perspective on the EU’s purpose but also highlighting the opportunities it offers.
  • Who is the European Union?
    • Putting a face on the EU. Who is it? Who are its main actors? By whom is it composed?­ You will identify who decides in Europe and learn how to interact with its main actors.
  • What the EU can do?
    • Analyzing the EU’s powers. What can it do? How far can it go? In which policies is it involved? The EU’s major fields of intervention. What does the EU do for trade, agriculture and innovation?
  • How does the EU work?
    • The EU’s means of action. How does it work? Who does what? What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can the EU do for you?
    • From freedom of movement to funding opportunities, immigration policies, establishment, level playing field through competition law, getting you a job.
  • What can you do for Europe?
    • The initiatives and instruments fostering civic engagement in the EU (public consultations, ECIs, Ombudsman, etc). In other words, the toolbox of the empowered citizen.
  • A Job for All (Optional)
    • This optional module includes interviews with people who work closely within the EU
  • Clinic Section (Optional)
    • This is the EU Clinic section.

Taught by

Alberto Alemanno


4.2 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at Coursera based on 224 ratings

Start your review of Understanding Europe: Why It Matters and What It Can Offer You

  • Uros J
    In reality for most of us the EU is an abstract thing that we do not really understand. This is a great course that explains the EU institutions and what the EU can and what it can not do.
    I am not giving the full 5 stars because personally I am not in to all the legal definitions, but I do understand why they need to be in the course.

    Would definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in the EU.
  • Paul Ransom
  • RoosWilhelm
  • Llama

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