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Negotiations in the European Union



In the European Union, negotiations are a daily routine: national diplomats negotiate with each other to determine the EU’s positions, ministers try to defend their national position in the Council against the European Commission’s effort to secure its own proposal, MEPs defend their position before the Council and the Commission, lobbyists try to influence representatives of the various EU institutions and so on. The EU decision-making processes involve complex negotiations, whereby decisions are reached only after long and complicated discussions, partly conducted informally ‘in the corridors’,

The course ‘Negotiations in the European Union’ builds on the knowledge the students gained in the first year course ‘EU Politics’ and introduces them to the problems of decision-making not only from a theoretical but also from a practical perspective. In this course, the students will not only learn about a certain phenomenon but also experience what it means to take part in EU negotiations. We first look at the theories that try to explain decision-making and negotiations. We read about the dynamics and the norms (both formal and informal) that underpin much of the negotiations in the Council of the European Union. During the course, we run three simulation games. The students are required to prepare very well and reflect on their performance. Running three simulations allows the students to learn on their mistakes (or successes!) and improve the way they negotiate. It also allows them to understand better the ways in which the European Union functions every-day.
The students are assessed mainly on the basis of written assignments and their performance in class and during the simulation games. Please consult the schedule of the course as it is altered due to the simulation games.

Course Objectives

This course is organised around three simulation games, which allow the students to better understand the practicalities of decision-making processes in Brussels (based on the readings) and to improve their negotiation skills. The objective of this course is threefold:

  • to provide students with a practical in-depth understanding of EU decision-making and the involvement of EU actors across different levels and policy areas;

  • to provide basic introduction of the main negotiation concepts and know how to prepare negotiation strategy;

  • to improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

Course Load

10 EC

Mode of Instruction

Seminars and Simulation Games.

Assessment Method

Attendance and a Final Paper

Reading List

Fisher, R. and W. Ury (2011) Getting to Yes. Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In, London: Penguin Books. + articles and chapters assigned in the syllabus


See general information on tab 'Year 3'