The rule of law is a fundamental principle of our societies and an important pillar of the European Union. A fair, independent and secure legal system protects citizens from arbitrary government, discrimination and violation of human rights. The fundamental principles include the independence of the judiciary, the role of the media, the institutional separation of powers and the protection of human rights. 

In recent years, the issue of the rule of law has been in in the public spotlight as the rule of law in some member states has become less accepted, increasingly under pressure or actively undermined. It is often criticised that the EU has no means of dealing with such situations - yet the EU has various mechanisms to strengthen and protect the rule of law.

Pupils, teenagers and young adults can now learn about these mechanisms - and the importance and relevance of the rule of law with the simulation game "Democracy under pressure - the rule of law in the European Union" using the example of the fictitious EU member state Volmardia: Time and again, journalists and newspaper publishers there complain that they cannot work freely - especially when they report on possible cases of corruption in the government.

The European Commission has been in contact with the Volmard government for some time, but so far nothing has happened. Therefore, the European Commission has now asked the Council of Ministers to make a proposal on how to proceed with Volmardia. Through this game structure, the players simultaneously learn about the different instruments of the EU and not only that the rule of law is a fundamental value of the EU, but also how the EU can potentially defend it.

The simulation game was "premiered" at the EuropaPunktBremen's "Learning Europe" day on 21 September 2023, which was also attended by Didier Reynders, EU Commissioner for Justice and Consumer Protection, who explicitly welcomed the idea of "bringing the rule of law into the classroom and giving pupils a tangible experience of how the EU works in practice". The premises of the Bremen Parliament and the Commissioner's visit provided a fitting setting for the five Bremen school classes and the teacher training course, which were trying out the simulation game for the first time. 

In the end, all five classes decided on measures to strengthen the rule of law in Volmardia - and, if their feedback is to be believed, they also learned a lot. The participants emphasised not only that they had enjoyed the simulation, but also that the simulation had brought them much closer to the unwieldy topic of the rule of law. The feedback from the teacher training was equally positive, with many directly emphasising their interest in implementing it in their own classrooms.

The special feature: This is exactly what the game materials are for - because they are available (in German) here. We hope you have fun trying them out and look forward to receiving feedback at europa@planpolitik.de!

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