The Model European Council (MEC) und Model European Parliament (MEP) programmes were created in 1984, based on the initiative of two teachers at the European School of Munich, Jimmy Campbell and Henry Christian. Since then, these programs have established themselves and developed with great success. Today they are strongly implemented and essential parts of the lives of European Schools. MEC is a realistic simulation of a European Council meeting with ministers and heads of state, i.e. a simulation of the extremely complicated decision-making processes in the European Union. It is an enormous and very complex role-play. A team of students representing the European Commission - with support from the real Commission - prepares the proposals before the summit of the Council. The teams taking on the roles of ministers and heads of state then debate these proposals and decide upon them. The themes on the agenda are always the same issues the EU is currently working on. MEP follows the same guidelines: the students, however, impersonate members of the European Parliament.
We try to alternate between both programmes. However, MEC takes place more often as it is easier to organise. This is also the reason why the conference is frequently held in Munich as the European Patent Office generously makes its facilities available. There are precise criteria by which interested students are chosen. Each school sends one or two teams, each representing a member-state of the EU. Additionally, there are always two journalist crews who accompany and comment the meeting. In this way, the ministers and heads of state learn how to deal with the merciless press.
Since 1998, teams from national schools have participated as well. Schools from Gothenburg (Sweden), for instance, take part regularly. The programmes run for approximately half a school year and require a lot of time, effort and commitment from both teachers and students, outside of normal school hours. In the first weeks of each school year a selection takes place. Students are chosen with regard to their motivation, interests and general knowledge in politics, law, society, economics, history and geography. Furthermore, they must have rhetoric and debating skills as well as be versatile in languages. This is very important, since everything (general assemblies, work in the committees, speeches, press conferences, interviews, etc.) is held in the European Union's three working languages, including the agenda of the summit.
The participants have to learn how the EU functions, they must be able to familiarise themselves with difficult topics (i.e. water protection, pensions, foreign affairs, institutional development in the EU, agricultural subsidies, asylum policy, transport policy, fight against terrorism, energy supplies, to name but a few). In addition, they also have to fully memorise their country's stance and their characters' opinions.
The teachers train and support the students until the event, but once there; they are on their own and have to assume their adult roles. This is always when the magic happens: within a few hours, the adolescents (they are between 15 and 19 years old) become real adults and usually notice this transformation very clearly. The programmes MEC/MEP have a profound impact on the participants. They mature quicker and become much more self-confident. A classical MEC/MEP career lasts approximately three years. With each passing year the experienced students take on more important positions. In this way, they also grow within the programme. The baccalaureate marks of participants are always noticeably higher than average. They are more successful in university interviews and know what they want earlier than others. In their work as adults finally, they are engaged at a more international level - even if they choose to study scientific disciplines. All this contributes to make these programmes so interesting and infinitely valuable.