Understanding EU Decision-Making: Principles, Procedures, Practice (+ preliminary module)

26/03/2019 - 29/03/2019
Location: Maastricht (NL)
Project number: 1912201

Understanding EU Decision-Making: Principles, Procedures, Practice (+ preliminary module)

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 3 customer ratings
(3 customer reviews)

From:  1.370,00

This course will get you up to speed on the essential elements of how the EU system works. Don’t have much exposure to EU decision-making, or want to refresh your knowledge? In this course, we have included an introductory module.

SKU: 1912201 Categories: ,

“I’m going to that meeting in Brussels next week. Is it an expert group or a comitology committee?”
“I need to brief the boss about what to expect. Will the Commission ask her to vote?”
“How can I know where our issue is in the EU decision process, and what comes next?”

Simple questions, the answers to which may be complex, and yet can make your job easier. This course will get you up to speed on the essential elements of how the EU system works: the different powers that the EU has, who does what, and how you can have a role in shaping EU decisions. It is concise but thorough, and focusses in detail on EU law-making.

What you will learn in this course:
  • The differences between legislative acts, implementing acts (the world of ‘comitology’!) and the new delegated acts, relating them to their place in the EU policy cycle, as well as in the hierarchy of laws.
  • The decision-making procedures within the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament, and the ways in which national officials and other stakeholders fit into the policy process.
  • The ordinary legislative procedure and how a ‘trilogue’ works.
  • Delegated and implementing acts using topical cases (including the well-known ‘glyphosate’ saga).
By the end of the course, you will:
  • Understand the essential principles and procedures that you need to know in order to be credible when operating in an EU context
  • Be able to decode messages and reports from Brussels
  • Be more effective in your own interactions with other officials
  • Be better equipped to explain how things work to your colleagues and associates
  • Have a feel for how things work in practice, and be able to prepare appropriately
  • Have a solid basis for continuous learning on the job afterwards.
Who is this course for:
  • Officials who have taken on a new role in Brussels
  • Officials who have to take part in meetings in the Commission or Council
  • Anyone who needs to know how EU decision-making works in practice
Course methodology and highlights

We believe learning happens best with practical knowledge. So this course includes:

  • Extensive insights with multiple examples and real life cases
  • Group exercises
  • Role plays and simulation games
  • Inputs from an experienced EU practitioner as the basis for discussion among participants about the practical demands of participation in the various stages of EU decision-making.
After-course support

In order to help retain and deepen the knowledge acquired afterwards, you will receive a copy of Edward Best’s 2016 book Understanding EU Decision-Making, published with the support of the EU Publications Office.

Course structure:

The course leaves ample time for exercises and discussions.

You will receive a set of concise preparatory materials in advance, to ensure that you have a basic knowledge of EU processes and thus be able to take full advantage of the detailed sessions and practical exercises in the course.

The introductory module

We would want you to get maximum benefits out of this course, irrespective of your level of knowledge on EU decision-making.

So in this course, we have included an introductory module to be held on the afternoon before the commencement of the detailed course, covering the following topics:

  • The legal bases for what the EU can and cannot do
  • The main ways in which decisions are taken
  • The different powers that Member States have given to the EU
  • The roles and structures of the EU institutions

While this module is optional, if you are not sure you are familiar with the basics, we recommend that you attend it, to be able to make the most of the intensive course and immerse yourself in the detailed exercises over the following days.

If you are confident of all the basics, and do not feel that you need any further training on it, you can register only for the Course.




EU decision-making for newcomers (optional preliminary module)




The European Union in 2019: basic structures and competences




Coffee break




Introduction to the EU institutions and decision-making procedures




Questions and answers




End of the preliminary module






Welcome and self-presentation of the participants
Edward Best, Head of Unit, European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), Maastricht




Introduction and overview of EU decision-making
The day begins with a succinct summary of the main points covered in the preliminary reading / preliminary module concerning the structures and competences of the EU.
Group exercise: Who does what in the EU institutional system?
In order to engage you actively, we present a simple model of the core EU policy cycle, indicating the main roles and functions that are involved. You will divide into groups and match schematic outlines with sets of institutional actors and instruments. This is followed by a debriefing that establishes the framework for the following sessions.




Coffee break




The Commission and legislative proposals
You then look in more detail at the start of the policy cycle. We explain how the Commission elaborates legislative proposals and outlines the role of expert groups, public consultations and impact assessments.








Decision-making case study on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (1)
A case study is introduced that will run through the whole course, illustrating each stage of the policy cycle. You first engage in a short exercise concerning the process of agenda-setting and problem definition.




Coffee break




Legislative procedures in the Council and the European Parliament
You will look at the internal structure and working methods of the Council, identifying the main actors and decision-making processes involved.




This is followed by a presentation of procedures within the European Parliament, showing how legislative proposals are examined in the Committees and the Plenary.




Recapitulation of main points covered during the day




End of the first day




Dinner in a restaurant in town









The Ordinary Legislative Procedure
We start the day by giving an overview of the Ordinary Legislative Procedure, by which the European Parliament and the Council have to agree on most legislative proposals.




Decision-making case study (2)
You now take part in a second short exercise in which you identify the main actors and steps involved in legislative decision-making in the case.
The actual process by which the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive was adopted is then presented.




Coffee break




Simulation exercise
A different case is now used to simulate a meeting in the Council framework at which you need to reach a compromise text as a basis for negotiation with the European Parliament.

Edward Best
Radovan Schida
, Political Administrator, General Secretariat of the Council

Introduction to the case (the EU Firearms Directive) and individual background preparation.

First round of discussions








Second round of discussions




Coffee break








General discussion

We now summarize how the act was finalized in the real inter-institutional negotiations and open a general discussion on legislative procedures.




Recapitulation of main points covered during the day




End of second day and reception









Delegated and implementing acts
This session goes into more detail regarding the new system of ‘delegated acts’ ‘and ’implementing acts’. We explain the procedures for adopting these acts with specific examples, outline the institutional issues that have arisen, and show how these issues have been addressed in a new Common Understanding between the institutions.




Decision-making case study (3)
We round off the case study by looking at how delegated and implementing acts have been adopted on the basis of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive.

The session concludes with the case of Glyphosate, which illustrates some procedural questions concerning implementing acts as well as broader trends in EU policy-making.




Coffee break




Practical perspectives: preparing for EU decision-making
The final session is introduced by experienced EU practitioners who discuss how national officials and other stakeholders can prepare to participate effectively in EU meetings.
Anita Drondina, Counsellor, Permanent Representation of Latvia to the EU; EIPA visiting expert (TBC)
[Representative of a European interest association, Brussels]




Wrap-up and evaluation




End of the seminar

Course venue
European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA)
O.L. Vrouweplein 22
6211 HE, Maastricht
the Netherlands

Programme Organiser
Ms Eveline Hermens
Tel.: + 31 43 3296259

The fee includes documentation and refreshments. Lunches, a reception or dinner are included if mentioned in the programme. Accommodation and travel costs are at the expense of the participants or their administration.

EIPA offers a 10% discount to all civil servants working for one of EIPA’s supporting countries, and civil servants working for an EU institution, body or agency.

Who are the supporting countries?
Civil servants coming from the following EIPA supporting countries are entitled to get the reduced fee: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

For all other participants, the regular fee applies.

Lunches and the reception will be served at a restaurant in town. Special dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, diabetic) can be indicated once you receive the confirmation of the seminar.

Hotel reservations
EIPA has special price arrangements with a number of hotels. All hotels are within 10 minutes walking distance from EIPA. Should you wish to make use of this possibility, please book directly via the links below. Payment is to be made directly and personally to the hotel upon checking out. At the time of booking, please mention in the requested field the EIPA project number for your course.

Confirmation of registration will be forwarded to participants on receipt of the completed online registration form.

Prior payment is a condition for participation.

Cancellation policy
For administrative reasons you will be charged €150 for cancellations received within 15 days before the activity begins. There is no charge for qualified substitute participants.

EIPA reserves the right to cancel the activity up to 2 weeks before the starting date. In that case, registration fees received will be fully reimbursed. EIPA accepts no responsibility for any costs incurred (travel, accommodation, etc.). 

3 reviews for Understanding EU Decision-Making: Principles, Procedures, Practice (+ preliminary module)

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Christophe BOLOT

    Excellent, very thorough, dynamic training on EU decision-making procedures, alternating theories and many practical exercises. Bravo

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    sandra hili vassallo

    The course was excellent both in content and presentation wise. It could be quite intense at times, but the discussions and simulation exercise made sure that particiants feel involved at all times. Coffee breaks, dinner and farewell reception were very good and provided a good break and an opportunity to network. Expertise and passion for the topics of the lecturers and guest speakers was evident and very motivational. I do hope to have another opportunity to attend an EIPA course some time in the future.

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Daniel Griffin

    This is a fantastic course for anyone who works with EU legislation, at any stage of the legislative process. The course is comprehensive and thorough, but taught clearly and with great structure by an approachable and very experienced tutor. The school itself is modern and well run and there is a good social dimension to the course.

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