EU crisis management in practice: student simulation game

From 10 to 14 February 2020, 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 at Europe’s borders to the East and in Africa. During an entire week, the students transformed into staffers at the European External Action Service 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. The students discussed varying topics, ranging from efforts to provide humanitarian aid to setting up a fact-finding mission on the ground to clarify the eruption and evolution of hostilities. 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 as every country tried to promote its own objectives. Nevertheless, the hushed conversations in the corridors, the discussions in the official meetings and the informal debates over lunch culminated in an emergency Foreign Affairs Council that finally agreed on a common EU response to the two crises. This response included for the first crisis an allocation of additional funding through Emergency Aid Reserve and an expansion of the UN mission on the ground. As for the second conflict, the Council decided to support a fact-finding mission under the auspices of the OSCE and decided on the deployment of the European Medical Command.

This annual simulation game is an integral part of the study programme. Directed by an negotiation expert, Alejandro RIBO LABASTIDA, and a political advisor from the EEAS, Quentin WEILER, it offers a realistic experience of EU crisis management by immersing students in a compact, high-pace exercise which allows them to refine their knowledge on EU external action and apply their bargaining skills acquired in the courses they followed in the first semester.

IRD Simulation Game.February 2020