Hands-on EU environmental policy
The simulation to mark the informal meeting of the EU’s environment ministers allowed the students of the high-level politics class at Berlin’s Heinrich-von-Stephan school to play the part of the Council of Ministers. Eighteen-year-old Anna Röhm was one of them. She reports that this is a topic that galvanises her generation. "The environment is a topic that my class is always discussing."
Acting as minister
Firstly, during a workshop, the students spent several hours familiarising themselves with the European institutions and the most important areas of the EU’s environmental policy. Then they began their simulation of the meeting of the environment ministers. The young people slipped into the shoes of the EU’s ministers of the environment. Their task? To find a way of reducing plastic consumption throughout the EU. They also had to find ways of making solid waste management more sustainable.
At the meetings of the EU’s Council of Ministers the ministers responsible for one particular policy area come together to consult and agree on a common line within their specific policy field. The meeting is chaired by the minister from the country that currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Experiencing the dynamics of the EU first hand
"This experience gave all of us a far better idea about the dynamics in the EU," summed up Anna Röhm. She took on the role of the French environment minister, and is convinced that a ban on plastic makes sense. The first priority, however, must be to expand local public transport. "The outer districts should be better connected to the rest of the city, so that commuters do not need to resort to their cars."
Exchange between students and ministers
The day was rounded off by a creative phase in which the young people were able to voice their own ideas about the EU’s environmental policy. The results will be presented directly to the Council of Environment Ministers in Brussels via the European Commission and the Federal Foreign Office. This establishes a "direct line" between the school and the political level.