In this course students simulate the EU decision-making process, more precisely, the ordinary legislative procedure (formally referred to as the co-decision procedure). Overall, 80 students from all over the world come together for a three day simulation. The Simulation provides students with a vivid impression of how the EU decision-making processes function. It will enrich the otherwise more theory-based knowledge transfer. This course is optional for students of both universities at Master level and open for non-local and international students.
Within the simulation the students take the roles of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Ministers of the Council of the European Union, Commission representatives and journalists. The simulation includes the presentation of the European Commission's proposals in the Parliament as well as in the Council. Students debate the topics, convene for party-group meetings and write and deliver amendments until they cast their final votes on each proposal. In addition, MEPs and Ministers have to justify their positions and actions at press conferences and journalists report on the decision making process.
Being a member of the European Parliament or the Council
Four days long students of TU Darmstadt and University of Mainz and international students were performing as members of the European Parliament or the Council of the European Union. Over 80 students from Germany, Poland, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Croatia, Belgium, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Albania, Pakistan, Israel, Columbia and Brazil were simulating a decision-making process of the European Union with an external policy dimension. The participants discussed two Commission proposals in the field of migration policy.
The simulation was the highlight of a one semester preparation course in their respective home universities. The negotiating and voting marathon provided students with a vivid impression of how the EU decision-making processes function. It enriched the otherwise more theory-based knowledge transfer.
The participants had been assigned roles two months before the actual meeting in Mainz. During that time they had to prepare themselves and write and submit position papers. They were provided with a platform on the internet in order to meet online and discuss. On the first day of the simulation the participants attended a workshop on the Rules of Procedure, which were closely modelled on the actual EU procedures in order to make the simulation as realistic as possible and to familiarize them with decision-making processes in a mock simulation. The actual simulation started with the presentation of the proposals by the European Commission in the Parliament as well as in the Council. Subsequently the participants debated on the topics, convened for party-group meetings and wrote and delivered amendments. After two and a half days of simulation there was a final vote on each amended proposal. MEPs and Ministers had to justify their positions and actions at press conferences and it was the journalists’ job to critically report on the political process in daily newspapers and in video news reports.
The simulation was organized by the Institute of Political Science of the University of Mainz (Prof. A. Niemann and Dr. W. Muno) and of the TU Darmstadt (Prof. Michèle Knodt), BETA and AEGEE. BETA (“Bringing Europeans Together Association”) is a politically independent, non-profit association of 180 young members from all across Europe. BETA works to foster a European identity and consciousness based on plurality, tolerance and cooperation between individuals, contributing to the emergence of a European public sphere as well as strengthening the European civil society by further developing democratic processes on the national and international level. Among other things, BETA is involved in the mock simulation on day one and organizational issues concerning the actual simulation. AEGEE (“Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe”) is a student organisation which promotes co-operation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. It counts 13.000 members, active in more than 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the largest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. AEGEE organised board and lodging for the external participants and arranges evening activities.
The simulation promoted intercultural exchange and at the same time fosterd a broader EU awareness and European spirit. It provided students with a hands-on practical experience of the European Union and particularly the complex multi-level decision-making process that involves various EU institutions. It increased students’ knowledge and understanding of the EU’s main institutions and gave students the opportunity to improve their debating, negotiating and team-work skills.