Simulating an EU Council summit with students

Compromise and declarations of intent

Masters students from all over Europe gathering in Brussels to simulate a European Union Council summit makes for quite an authentic atmosphere, owing to the mix of languages, the different temperaments and negotiation styles, the setting. Negotiations begin during the three-week online preparation phase via our platform Senaryon. When meeting face-to-face for the summit, participants must reach compromise on the most pressing issues. As in reality, both negotiation phases are closely linked.

The students negotiate on some of the bigger issues such as the future of the European Union, alternative ways out of the „poly-crisis“, new integration measures or a „social Europe“. As part of the online Masters for European Studies at the Centre International de Formation Européenne (Cife), the simulated summit usually takes place shortly after the real June summit of heads of state and governments. Meanwhile, for the political-scientists-in-the-making at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, the simulation game constitutes the climax to an entire seminar on EU social policy.

In both cases, the students spend the online phase getting up to speed with the different delegations and their positions. They also hold early consultations and forge coalitions; all while developing proposals for the final document. Based on those proposals, the Council Presidency creates a single draft for the critical stage of negotiations during the summit.

Both in Brussels and in Lüneburg, in-house it’s then all about negotiating the summit’s final declaration and finalise its wording.  Just like in real negotiations, the agreement tends to represent the lowest common denominator, with concrete demands a rare occurrence, and instead containing plenty of statements of intent. In any case, regarding behaviour during the negotiations and the struggling for compromise, the students are already displaying high levels of professionalism.




Facts + Figures

Target group

Masters students of European Studies at Cife

  • How the European Council works
  • How does politics actually work?

Cife – Centre International de Formation Européene

Leuphana University Lüneburg


2 days, plus 4 weeks of online preparation

Number of participants



Brussels, plus online preparation





  • We have been working with Planpolitik since 2012. They organise a simulation of the EU summit for our participants in Brussels once a year and I am always astonished about how our international participants take on their roles as European presidents or ministers, debate and fight intensively for their positions.
    I am looking forward to having the next simulation in July 2015.

    Camille Raffin, Project manager, Centre international de formation européenne CIFE

  • The prospect of a 14-day simulation game as the seminar climax created a powerful incentive for students to actively engage with the event’s topics. The online phase allowed for a level of identification with the role as well as a depth of content rarely achieved in „regular“ simulation games. The on-site event reached considerably higher levels of quality regarding content and discursive intensity. It undoubtedly marked the peak of the event.

    Apl. Prof. Dr. Dawid Friedrich, Professor of International Relations, Leuphana University Lüneburg