Understanding EU Decision-Making: Principles, Procedures, Practice

Project number: 21122011

- Online Course -

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Date & pricing

21/04/2021 - 23/04/2021
Register before: 16/04/2021

€ 900,00 per attendee

€ 810,00 for EIPA members*

Understanding EU Decision-Making: Principles, Procedures, Practice

From:  810,00

Get up to speed on the essential elements of how the EU system works. This course does not include the introductory module, for those who are familiar with the basics.

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About this online course

“I’m participating in 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.

You will also receive insights as to what to expect from the new European Parliament and European Commission.

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).

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 experienced EU practitioners as the basis for discussion among participants about the practical demands of participation in the various stages of EU decision-making.

Course structure:

The course spans 2.5 days, in order to have time for ample exercises and discussions. Sufficient breaks and pauses have been included to ensure an effective online course. Each day will end early or mid-afternoon to allow ample time to process the content, prepare for the next day, and do any necessary work related tasks.

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 morning before the course date, covering the basics. While this is optional, if you are not sure you are familiar with the basics, 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

If you feel you need to participate in this module, you register for the Course plus preliminary module.

Read Edward Best’s briefing: ‘The Parliamentary Dimension in EU Governance

Read briefing

How will it help you?

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.

After-course support

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

Who this course is 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
Edward Best

Edward Best

EU Governance

Practical information

Online Course
For this online course we make use of Zoom

Programme Organiser
Ms Belinda Vetter
Tel: + 31 43 3296382

EIPA offers a 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.

For all other participants, the regular fee applies.

Prior payment is a condition for participation.

Cancellation policy
For administrative reasons you will be charged € 50 for cancellations received within 7 days before the activity begins. There is no charge for qualified substitute participants.

EIPA reserves the right to cancel the activity up to 1 week before the starting date. In that case, registration fees received will be fully reimbursed.

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The programme

Each day will end early or mid-afternoon to allow ample time to process the content, prepare for the next day, and do any necessary work related tasks.

08.50 Opening of on–line platformat 08.50, Europe Summer Time (Amsterdam)
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 quick quiz and 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 breakout groups and, using an interactive whiteboard tool, you will match schematic outlines with sets of institutional actors and instruments.
10.00 Coffee break
10.15 Group exercise: Debriefing
The exercise is followed by a debriefing that establishes the framework for the following sessions.
11.15 Coffee break
11.30 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.
12.10 Pause
12.20 Individual exercise: The Commission and legislative proposals
You will be invited to explore the relevant websites and sources of information of the Commission on the basis of an assigned legislative proposal.
12.45 Lunch
13.30 Case study on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure
A case is now presented in sections with pauses. This will take you round the whole legislative cycle from initial problem definition to adoption of a directive and implementation by the member states, and then through ex-post evaluation to revision. Before each stage you will briefly discuss ‘what happens next?’
14.15 Coffee break
14.30 A worked case study: the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (cont.)
14.45 Recapitulation of main points covered during the day
15.00 End of the first day
08.50 Opening of on–line platformat 08.50, Europe Summer Time (Amsterdam)
09.00 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.
10.00 Coffee break
10.15 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
11.15 Coffee break
11.30 Second round of discussions
12.30 Lunch
13.15 Last round of discussions and debriefing
14.00 Coffee break
14.15 General discussion
We now summarize how the act was finalized in the real inter-institutional negotiations and open a general discussion on legislative procedures.
14.45 Recapitulation of main points covered during the day
15.00 End of second day
08.50 Opening of on–line platformat 08.50, Europe Summer Time (Amsterdam)
09.00 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.
09.45 Coffee break
10.00 Delegated and implementing acts (cont.)
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.
10.30 Coffee break
10.45 Practical perspectives: national officials and EU decision-making
The final sessions discuss how national officials and other stakeholders can prepare to participate effectively in EU meetings.
Mieke De Regt, Member of the Contact Network, Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC); former Counsellor, Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU
11.30 Coffee break
11.45 Practical perspectives: stakeholders and EU decision-making
Iskander De Bruycker, Assistant Professor, Maastricht University
12.30 Practical perspectives: preparing for EU decision-making
General discussion led by Mieke De Regt and Iskander De Bruycker.
12.45 Wrap-up and evaluation
13.00 End of the seminar