Understanding EU Decision-Making: Principles, Procedures, Practice (Course)

21/03/2018 - 23/03/2018
Location: Maastricht (NL)
Project number: 18122011


Understanding EU Decision-Making: Principles, Procedures, Practice (Course)

From:  1.170,00

This 2.5 days 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.

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“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 2.5 days 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 duration is 2.5 days, in order to leave time for ample 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.

Don’t have much exposure to EU decision-making, or want to refresh your knowledge?
You can also participate in the optional preliminary module the afternoon before the course date, covering the basics. While this is optional, if you are not sure you are familiar with the basics, and as you have to be in town by this date anyway, we recommend that you attend this module, to be able to make the most of the intensive course and immerse yourself in the detailed exercises over the next 2.5 days.

In the preliminary module, you will be introduced to:

  • 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

If you feel you need to participate in this preliminary module, please click below in order to register for the 3-day course.

09.00 Welcome and self-presentation of the participants
Edward Best, Head of Unit, European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), Maastricht
09.15 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 the participants actively, a simple model of the core EU policy cycle is presented, indicating the main roles and functions that are involved. The participants 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.
10.45 Coffee break
11.00 The Commission and legislative proposals
The course then looks in more detail at the start of the policy cycle. It explains how the Commission elaborates legislative proposals and outlines the role of expert groups, public consultations and impact assessments. The participants engage in a short exercise.
12.45 Lunch at Hotel Derlon
14.00 Legislative procedures in the Council and European Parliament
The internal structure and working methods of the Council are presented, identifying the main actors and decision-making processes involved. This is followed by a detailed presentation of procedures within the European Parliament, showing how legislative proposals are examined in the Committees and the Plenary, using specific examples.
15.45 Coffee break
16.00 Simulation Exercise on the Ordinary Legislative Procedure: Introduction
Introduction to the case and individual background preparation.
Wolfgang Koeth, Senior Lecturer, EIPA
17.00 Recapitulation of main points covered during the day and general discussion.
17.30 End of the first day
19.00 Dinner at restaurant Bouchon d’en Façe, Wyckerbrugstraat 54, Maastricht (tel: +31 43 311.64.38)
09.00 The Ordinary Legislative Procedure
The working of the Ordinary Legislative Procedure, by which the Parliament and the Council have to agree on most legislative proposals, is then discussed in more detail. A case is presented which takes the participants round the policy cycle from problem definition to implementation. Participants are placed in ‘situation rooms’ at the main stages of the process and invited to identify options and next steps.
Edward Best
10.45 Coffee break
11.00 Simulation Exercise (1)
Individual preparation of Council roles and meeting of the Council delegation.
Debriefing on roles and dynamics in the Council framework.
12.45 Lunch at Restaurant Laus
14.00 Simulation Exercise (2)
Individual preparation of Parliament roles and meeting of the Parliament delegation.
Debriefing on roles and dynamics in the Parliament framework.
15.30 Coffee break
15.45 Simulation Exercise (3)
 Trilogue and debriefing
Wolfgang Koeth
17.30 End of second day and little reception at EIPA
09.00 Delegated and implementing acts: principles and issues
The Friday morning goes into more detail regarding the new system of delegated acts’ ‘and ’implementing acts’. The first session discusses the institutional issues that have arisen. It explains how these have been addressed so far in a new Common Understanding between the institutions, and presents the state of play regarding the outstanding questions.
Edward Best
10.15 Coffee break
10.30 The new ‘comitology: how does it work?

The second session looks at the world of implementing acts in practice, using specific
cases including Glyphosate. Participants are given an exercise.

11.30 Pause
11.45 Practical perspectives: preparing for EU decision-making
The final session is introduced by an experienced EU practitioner who discusses how national officials and other stakeholders can prepare to participate effectively in Commission expert groups, Council Working Parties and ‘comitology committees’.
12.45 Wrap-up and evaluation
13.00 End of the seminar

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

The fee includes documentation, two lunches, one dinner and refreshments. 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, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

For all other participants, the regular fee applies.

Lunches and dinner 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 registration form.

Prior payment is a condition for participation. Please indicate the method of payment on the registration form.

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.). The mention of a speaker’s name in the programme does not commit EIPA. In the event that an announced speaker does not appear, EIPA will do its utmost to find a suitable replacement.


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