EU crisis management exercise by International Relations and Diplomacy students

The students of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges embarked upon a simulation of the negotiations of the EU’s response to international crises in the Eastern neighbourhood and the Middle East.

For an entire week, from 5 to 9 February 2024, the students played the roles of EU institutions (European External Action Service, Council of the European Union and European Commission) and Member States (Ministers, COREPER and PSC Ambassadors and Working Group experts), as well as journalists from different media outlets - POLITICO, Euronews and Euractiv.

During meetings of the Council of the EU, students discussed various policy options to address the crises at stake, including humanitarian aid and civilian and military CSDP missions. Participants drafted position briefs, option papers, Decisions and Conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council, as well as press releases and news articles. They also interacted with third countries and international organisations (US, Russia, NATO, UN, OSCE) through an AI-based communication system. In addition, participants were active on a special X platform (formerly known as ‘Tuiter’) created for the simulation to re-create the influence of social media on international politics.

The negotiations were tough but the discussions in the official meetings and informal conversations in the corridors paved the way for the Foreign Affairs Council to agree on a common EU response to the two crises, using the range of EU instruments and policies.

This annual simulation game is an integral part of the study programme. It is facilitated by negotiation expert Alejandro Ribó, and Quentin Weiler, Head of the Political Section/Deputy Head of Delegation at the European Union Delegation to Chile. The course offers a realistic experience of EU crisis management by immersing students in a high-intensity exercise which allows them to apply their knowledge on EU external action and negotiation skills acquired during the first semester.

Rector Federica Mogherini joined the students for a kick-off session, sharing her experience as former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.