Politics of European Union Brought to Life for Students from Arthur Mellows Village College

 

At a time when the European Union is never out of the headlines, its politics and decision-making were brought to life for two students from Arthur Mellows Village College last week when they took part in a Mock Council of the European Union.

EU Mock ElectionThe students, Beth Oliver and James Hughes, joined 27 secondary schools and colleges from across England in London’s historic Lancaster House on 17 November to debate and make decisions on the Arab Spring and economic growth. 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 school represented one of the 27 EU Member States, the European Commission or General Secretariat of the Council. Arthur Mellows Village College represented Latvia and were invited to the Latvian Embassy as part of their research, where they met the Ambassador.  

James said, “I found the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable and gained a real insight into both the EU and current political issues. I would usually have overlooked the country which we were given to represent, as I always thought of Latvia as somewhat eventless, as it rarely appears in our news. I couldn’t have been more wrong! And so I found myself researching into an entirely new area of study. The set-up at Lancaster House was very professional, to such an extent that one could really believe they were taking part in a real EU council. Overall, I found the day to be thoroughly enjoyable and feel my passion for politics has been strengthened.”

Beth said: “The EU council was a great chance to learn more in depth about issues that are often in the media, for me, the Arab Spring. Especially looking at the issue from a Latvian perspective, it made me realise not just the various different intricacies of and perspectives on an issue, but also how difficult it is for the EU to make a conclusive decision. For me, the Mock EU council provided an exciting opportunity to peek behind the curtain and understand how politics works behind the scenes.”

Sarah Reilly, Assistant Headteacher, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for students to learn about the politics of the European Union. I am very proud of the way they researched, debated and presented their case at the Mock Council. It is a fantastic event that truly brings learning to life for our students.”

The Rt. Hon David Lidington, Minister for Europe, 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."

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.”

Jonathan Scheele, Head of the European Commission Representation in the UK, Chair of the working session on economic growth, 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."

The Mock Council concluded with a number of proposals for the Arab Spring States including special visas for young people from the Middle Eastern and North African countries affected, to allow them to study in European countries. The proposals for economic growth included strengthening the governance of the Euro-zone with the possibility of sanctions for members in breach of their obligations and creating greater support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

EU Group Photo