From 6 to 10 February 2023, the students of the EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies programme at the College of Europe in Bruges embarked upon tense negotiations to find a response to two concrete, hypothetical crisis situations in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood and in the Middle East. During an entire week, the students transformed into staffers at the European External Action Service, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, Working Group experts, Ambassadors to the Political and Security Committee and Foreign Ministers from the EU member states as well as critical journalists representing POLITICO, Le Monde and The Sun. The students discussed varying topics, ranging from efforts to provide humanitarian aid to deploying a mission. The teams drafted Member State position briefs, option papers, Council Decisions and Conclusions and press releases. Moreover, the students were active on a special ‘Tuiter’ platform created for the simulation. The negotiations were tough but, nevertheless, the hushed conversations in the corridors, the discussions in the official meetings and the informal debates over lunch culminated in the Foreign Affairs Council agreeing on a common EU response to the two crises. This response addressed the first crisis by establishing a CSDP monitoring mission. This civilian mission was aimed at creating the necessary conditions for a durable peaceful settlement. The mission’s mandate included fact-finding and stabilisation tasks. As for the second conflict, the Council decided to establish an EU Integrated Border Management Assistance Mission (EUBAM) aimed at strengthening the capabilities of the local national armed forces. The EU agreed to provide a prompt humanitarian response along with a substantial increase in funds directed at capability-building, infrastructure, and basic health and education services. The European Peace Facility was used to provide non-lethal weapons.
This annual simulation game is an integral part of the study programme. Directed by a negotiation expert, Alejandro RIBO LABASTIDA, and Quentin WEILER, Head of the Political Section/Deputy Head of Delegation at the European Union Delegation to Chile, it offers a realistic experience of EU crisis management by immersing students in a compact, high-pace exercise which allows them to apply their knowledge on EU external action and their bargaining skills acquired in the courses they followed in the first semester. Rector Federica MOGHERINI joined one of the debriefing sessions, sharing with students her experience as former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.