What you might need to know

  • This class picks up where class 5 left it. It is about understanding decision-making at the European level between the different institutions. To get the children to grasp it, we play the Toilet Game, which always generates a lot of giggles but also fits very well in the Green school programme. It is about water conservation.
  • Each table gets a folder with four character cards – they are the cards with the buildings. Those cards have the name of the European institution which works in this building and also the Irish person who is sent by Ireland to that institution. There are four institutions in total – the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
    Children also get four story cards – this is the story of how a decision is made at EU level. It goes from who gets the idea (that’s the European Council) to who writes it up (that’s the European Commission) to who passes it (that’s the European Parliament and the Council of the EU). The decision is passed only if the European Parliament and the Council of the EU agree on the wording of the decision. If they disagree, there’s time to find an agreement but then the decision is abandoned.
  • The European Council is composed of the leaders of the European Union, the Heads of State and Government. For Ireland it is the Taoiseach and for France it is the President. It depends on who has executive power in the country. There is one leader from each country around the table plus the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. They come up with the Big Ideas for the future of the EU or to solve a big crisis like the migration or the economic crisis.
  • The European Commission has a President and 27 other Commissioners who are appointed by their respective country, one per country. They are then voted into their job by the European Parliament. They do not represent their country but the general interest of the European Union. That is very important. The Commission writes up legislative proposals, it puts into words the big ideas coming from the European Council. But it never passes legislation.
  • The two institutions in charge of passing legislation are the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. The Council of the EU is made up of national ministers who fight for the national interest of their country. Depending on the topic under discussion, the composition of the Council of the EU changes. So if it is agriculture, the Ministers for Agriculture from the 28 members of the EU come together. They discuss the proposal written up by the Commission. They can amend it. The European Parliament also receives this proposal and they can also amend it. The European Parliament represents the interests of the European citizens. The MEPs sit according to their political party at European level, not according to their nationality. The Council of the EU avoids voting as much as possible and prefers finding a consensus. The European Parliament votes on proposals. The proposal is adopted only if the Council of the EU and the European Parliament agree on it. This is what the children are trying to grasp by doing the exercise.
  • The class ends with concept mapping as a summary to the 6 weeks. What comes to their mind when they think EU and Ireland? It’s also a nice way to show the class the variety of ideas and maybe other classes in the school the work that they have done.