Over sixty sixth form students from across the country were brought together in London today to debate current European issues in a Mock EU Council.
The schools came together at London’s historic Lancaster House to debate two of today’s most topical issues - the Arab spring and the economic challenges facing Europe.
Designed to replicate the interaction and negotiation that takes place between the 27 member states at the European Council, the Mock Council stimulates debate and provides a platform for students to learn more about the politics of the European Union and also the art of negotiation.
The event was organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Council and the European Commission and was held during International Education Week.
Each of the participating school or college teams was tasked with representing one of 27 EU Member States, the European Commission or the Secretariat-General of the Council.
Minister for Europe David Lidington said:
“The EU Mock Council is an invaluable opportunity for students to test their debating and negotiation skills. The event provides an excellent platform for students to understand how the decision making process of the EU really works. I hope it encourages students to consider the wide range of opportunities open to them within the EU.”
Jonathan Scheele, Head of the European Commission Representation in the UK, chaired the working session on economic growth. He said:
“There are many misunderstandings in the UK on how Europe works and today’s event provides an invaluable experience for youngsters to experience first hand and “from the inside” the way the EU takes decisions.”
Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair, British Council said:
“It’s great to see young people engaging with the mechanisms of Europe. The British Council works hard to build and ensure cultural understanding between the UK, Europe and countries around the world through initiatives such as the European Union’s Comenius programme and is pleased to be able to offer events to our up-and-coming young leaders through initiatives such as the Mock Council.”
To get a greater insight into their roles, the student teams were encouraged to approach the Member States’ Embassies and High Representatives for informal briefing sessions. Students from Oasis Hadley Academy, Enfield, who represented the UK at the Mock Council, met UK officials from the FCO’s Europe Directorate to really get into their roles and get a greater understanding on the UK’s position on the issues.
Sean Costello, Learning Coordinator at Hadley Academy said:
“The students were so grateful to be invited to the FCO for a briefing on the UK’s position on the debating topics - they have been talking about nothing else since. Following the Mock Council they will be giving an assembly and presentation to the sixth form to explain the event. It was truly inspirational for them and they are really focussed not only on the Mock Council but also their studies and university applications, and we can’t thank the FCO enough.”
Hadley Academy Sixth Former Hazal Bulbul said:
“It was great to meet Simon Manley, the FCO’s Europe Director and policy officials, to have conversations with them as equals and feel our thoughts and opinions were valued.”
Burak Kadrioglu added:
“The views and issues were extremely eye opening; of not only the severity of the situation facing the Arab world but also the consistent efforts of UK officials to solve them on a daily basis.”
The Mock Council builds on a series of successful similar events held by the British Council and the European Commission in Northern Ireland, Wales and London in recent years.
In England, the British Council is running the series as part of the EU-funded Comenius Programme, which provides support for partnerships between schools, colleges and local education authorities across Europe, as well as for professional development for educational staff.
Mock EU Council 2011