ESCP Business School Dean Looks to the Future of Europe |

ESCP Business School Dean Looks to the Future of Europe

By Niamh O

Updated March 13, 2020 Updated March 13, 2020

ESCP Business School recently held its annual Designing Europe seminar at the European Parliament in Brussels.

The seminar – now in its 11th year – welcomed Master’s in Management students from all six of the institutions (Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, Turin and Warsaw) within ESCP’s network.

Students are thrown in at the deep end to take part in an exercise that sees them take on roles in parties and committees within European Parliament to discuss a topical issue.

This year, it was the EU Green Deal – focusing on climate law and the social issues which climate change causes that affect not just Europeans, but citizens around the world.

Frank Bournois, Dean of ESCP Business School spoke with TopMBA to discuss why ESCP’s MiM students – and in turn the business leaders of tomorrow – are greatly benefiting from the hands-on event.

He said: “Over the two days, the students will handle environmental and sustainability issue, which is very important in this generation.

“Now they really have it at the heart of everything, so much so that they even asked the school to pay a special climate bank for all the traveling that we do.”

The benefits of evolving

ESCP’s Designing Europe event has developed substantially since its inception in 2009/2010.

Keeping with its European spirit, the seminar benefits future business leaders by acquiring relevant management knowledge within a landmark that holds Europe at its center.

Bournois said: “One big benefit is it’s the first time the students can all see everybody at the same time during year one of the master’s program.”

ESCP students are able to utilize attending at least two of its campuses during their degree program, and so, Brussels is one of the very few occasions the students can be assembled together at the same time.

Bournois added: “Second, Brussels is very symbolic. We like it because when you’re looking at the center of gravity of all of our campuses, it fits well with Brussels. Even Italian and Spanish students like it.”

Another major benefit about the seminar is that students are supported by a number of industry professionals, steering them to make ethical choices to fall in-line with the roles students take on relevant to the political groups and committees within European Parliament.

Brexit’s part in Europe

It’s hard to recall a time over the last few years where the doom and gloom of Brexit wasn’t at the forefront of European politics.

But since the UK left the European Union at the end of 2019, developments and changes will start to occur across the European network.

Bournois said: “I believe that it’s a major warning – that maybe the EU as it was organized had too many members.

“It’s going to be very positive for the EU because it’s going to bring new drivers and force it to do things differently.

“But as the UK will leave by the end of 2020, and this might happen with one or two smaller states, because I don’t think the big economies will leave, it’s going to help recreate consensus and internal strengths to the system.

“The UK identified that there were things to change, and I’m very sorry for British citizens but it’s been a long story.”

Nigel Farage once made a flyaway comment saying that the EU would crumble without the UK’s involvement – a viewpoint that isn’t necessarily shared by most of the British public.

Bournois said: “I don’t think Nigel Farage represents a majority of Brits thinking this. And I don’t think he even meant the EU should fall apart; he said the EU might fall apart.

“What I wish, because the school is present in different countries, is we will be a bridge between the two systems.

“I feel there could be an introduction of visas, formalities, paperwork and bureaucracy rules that would hinder younger people from both sides of the channel from working together and enjoying the journey of living.”

Michel Barnier’s (the European Commission's Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom since November 2019) keynote speech at the event detailed how the UK’s divorce from the UK may affect Europe. One factor being how the UK would hope to do more trade with economies such as Canada or the US.

Bournois said: “What struck me most today, was the information Michel Barnier gave showing distances: kilometers or miles between EU capitals and other EU economies and the amount of trade done.

“If anyone believes it’s going to be easier to trade with Canada or New Zealand, especially in a time when students and younger people from all countries hate the idea of wasting the planet’s resources, it’s going to be a difficult position to explain.”

But does Bournois think the event is a positive one? He said: “I love it. There are lots of notions from the students. In here, you’re not in a neutral place, it’s not as if we are doing it in the basement of an International Hotel. It’s more like a sacred place.

“Speak to the students, they are the reality of the school after all.”

This article was originally published in March 2020 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (;, creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.