Public executives gain insights for strengthening European cooperation in CAPITALS programme

Over six months, participants met in Rome, London and Berlin for seminars and peer learning. 

A cohort of 24 European executives from government, business and civil society gathered at the Hertie School in Berlin for the third leg of the European CAPITALS programme, a intensive Executive Education programme that offers participants a glimpse inside public administrations in Germany, Italy and the UK.

The programme is offered jointly by the Hertie School (Berlin), the LUISS School of Government (Rome) and the Policy Institute at King‘s College (London), and gives participants an opportunity to share insights and gather new ideas from renowned academics and practitioners. Participants travel to three European capitals over the course of six months for 3-4-day modules taught by scholars, government officials, and representatives from public and private organisations.

The underlying aim is to foster stronger ties among European countries, including those outside the European Union. “With the European CAPITALS programme we contribute to an in-depth understanding of European countries, the specifics of their politics and culture. We try to find out why a particular policy works the way it does in Italy, in the UK, in Germany,“ says Eva Savinova, Head of Operations and Programme Director in Executive Education at the Hertie School. “We deliberately decided not to focus on EU institutions, but on specific countries, national policy-making processes and multilateral cooperation, while sharing examples from other European countries. This is what makes this programme so special”.  

This year’s cohort came from from Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, Czech Republic, Austria, Georgia, Ukraine and Montenegro. Yuliya Klymko-Overchenko, Second Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said developing professional relationships with peers from other countries and getting to know them over half a year was a particularly insightful part of the programme. “Above all, meeting bright, committed and ambitious civil servants from a range of EU and other European countries made the programme a true highlight of my professional life,” she says.

After seminars on Italian public administration in June in Rome and on the UK public administration in London in September, participants moved on to Berlin in November. The Hertie School’s programme focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the German policymaking system and its response to challenges like digitalisation, COVID-19, migration, and more.

Participants heard from practitioners like Kerstin Müller of the German Council on Foreign Relations and former Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Office, and Hannah Ormerod of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Hertie School faculty taught sessions on the German government and recent elections (Andrea Römmele, Professor of Communication in Politics and Civil Society), and digitalisation (Gerhard Hammerschmid, Professor of Public and Financial Management).

In a time of relative uncertainty for the European project, intergovernmental cooperation is an area of rising importance, according to the programme's organisers. Their aim is to give top-level civil servants a deeper understanding of other countries' leadership and management processes, break down barriers to European coordination, and foster cross-border dialogue.

“European CAPITALS is a highly innovative unique mix of theory and practice,” said participant Miranda Tkabladze, Operations Manager of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Tbilisi, Georgia. “It has supported me to become a visionary leader analysing how countries can benefit through modernisation and dealing with counterparts.”

The programme is supported by the Mercator Foundation.

Learn more about the European CAPITALS programme.