Model European Union Simulation: Policies, Negotiations and Transatlantic Experiential Learning

In Spring 2023, Leiden University’s Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA) launched a new Honours Class “Model European Union Simulation: Policies, Negotiations and Transatlantic Experiential Learning

The new course, taught by the EURISGA Jean Monnet Chair Joachim Koops and EIURISGA Silviu Piros, offered highly motivated Honours Class student teams the opportunity to be trained for -and participate in- the international EuroSim Model European Union, taking place each year at a European or American partner university. The EuroSim event challenges students to take on the role of key policy-makers and member states in order to negotiate core policy proposals and outcomes during a four-day intensive simulation with over 200 participants from more than 20 universities. Each EuroSim has a specific theme related to the real-world policy agenda of the EU, helping students to deepen their knowledge of the EU and hone their public speaking, negotiating, leadership and diplomatic skills. After an intensive preparation period, including classes on the functioning and policy-making of the EU in global affairs, the students took on different “Alter Egos” (i.e. Policymaker roles as ministers of foreign affairs, interior as well as Members of the European Parliament) and prepared their negotiation positions with the help of content-and skills-focused in-depth classes and exercises.

In January 2023, the team negotiated with students from across the EU and the US on various topics and positions related to European Union’s Green Deal. The Leiden University Team not only impressed students and staff at the negotiation simulation in Cardiff, but three students from the Honours Class Team were also selected to receive the Simulation Awards of “Best Debater” of the entire simulation (Aneta Migátová)and two “Best Delegate” awards in their simulation groups (Lieve Williams and Gergely Török), thus making the Leiden University / FGGA Honours Class Team the most successful team of the entire Simulation.

Professor Joachim Koops noted “I am deeply impressed by the students’ outstanding performance in the run-up to the simulation and during the event itself! They put all of their learning experience throughout the course to practice and managed to influence and steer a variety of international negotiations in a very accomplished manner. Given the fact that this was Leiden University’s first participation in this long-standing event and then directly receiving the highest number of awards is truly impressive!”.

Silviu Piros, co-instructor and in charge of preparing students in EU-related negotiation tactics commented “This has been an incredibly rewarding experience, also for us as instructors. Students worked very hard throughout the course and threw themselves headfirst into the often-difficult intricacies of EU policy-making. Their efforts clearly paid off – huge congratulations!”. Throughout the course, students not only learned, together with seasoned EU policy experts(including former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders), but also reached out toa variety of active policymakers and acquired in-depth knowledge of EU policy-making throughout the course. In addition, during the simulation, they had to deal with multiple unexpected turns of negotiation and inter-cultural challenges – requiring tact and the ability to advance compromise between large groups of negotiators.

Aneta Migátová (Best Delegate of the Simulation): “The MEU course was a great opportunity to delve deeper into a specific topic and prepare thoroughly for the conference in Wales. This made the simulation an even more exceptional experience, thanks to which improved my negotiation and debating skills”. Lieve Willems (Best Delegate ENVI Committee): “For me, it was a very hectic week in which I got to know a lot of great people, both in formal and informal settings. The difference between debating for hours against someone with completely different point of view and then, managing to reach consensus was very rewarding. The event was amazingly well setup and our professor guided us carefully. The most important thing for me was that, after studying this kind of stuff for a year and a half, it was an amazing addition for me to experience the day-to-day debating that goes on in the European Union. “Gergely Török (Best Delegate Award for his role in the Environmental Council) added: “I really enjoyed the simulation, and I especially appreciated that it taught us to negotiate under pressure. This element was especially useful: it forced us to critically review and make use of the research we had done during the course. “

The course will be run again in 2024 and 2025. Interested and highly motivated students can apply via the FGGA Honours Programme.

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