Kronach vocational school students experience european politics

Kronach vocational school students experience european politics

"We need a strong europe, demands annika gehring vehemently at the lectern. Applause erupts. Josep borrell, president of the european parliament (alias nadja gehring), and environment commissioner stavros dimas (alias fabienne dillmann) are impressed by the european deputies' fiery speech. The three do not necessarily correspond to the conservative image of political representatives of the various EU countries. Instead of suit or costume, wear casual clothes, jeans and ponytail. And also the new "european deputy annika gehring may not have been a household name to everyone right away.

The three young ladies are students at the lorenz-kaim school in kronach, germany. Nadja is 18 years old and attends the eleventh grade of the vocational school for child care, her sister annika, who is two years younger, attends the same grade but for nutrition and care. 19-year-old fabienne dillmann is a student in the tenth grade at the vocational school for social care. The students of these three classes and an eleventh vocational school class for prospective mechatronics engineers in the dual system staged the development process of the "directive 2006/66/EC – the "battery directive" over two days. The positions and role profiles followed the real negotiation.

Talking about europe
"On the first day we first talked about europe. We got to know the institutions of the european union more closely", the "up-and-coming politicians. In preparation, they received "starter information" with relevant facts about the EU, the subject matter and the behavior of the simulation game. Various classrooms served as meeting rooms. Schoolchildren were also assigned as a press team to accompany the progress of the draft legislation through all the stages of the process. Each participant received an individual role profile, in which their opinions on the individual topic points were presented.

"We had to represent the profile assigned to us – so not necessarily our own opinion", explains nadja, who was a member of the council of europe in strabburg during the simulation game. Her sister was represented in the commission and fabienne in the european parliament in brussel. "The task of the commission was to mediate. We were looking for an intermediate solution between the parliament and the council, which was not easy at all", tells annika, who like her sister lives in grun. Nadja then also confirms: "in the council of europe we discussed point by point and we sometimes had completely different opinions than what was presented to us by the parliament." They had to run back and forth between two floors of the school – strabburg upstairs, brussel downstairs – all the time.

That really makes you feel good
They are enthusiastic about the simulation. None of them had thought before that this would be so interesting. "You just have to go with it. The facts and processes are already complicated. But once you're in it, it's really fun", says nadja. She finds it a bit unfair that the small landers had little say in the matter. Fabienne, who lives in hof an der steinach, admits that the two days have already been exhausting – especially because of the flood of information. "The subject was not easy. I had wished for more information beforehand and not all at once. We were discussing a subject about which we had virtually no idea", she says.

The aim of the simulation was to show the participants the complexity of political decision-making and to bring the system of the european union closer in a lively and practical way", explains robert lohmann, who led the simulation together with sarah marcos from the academy.

Fur "live-heinz kohler (SPD), who was himself a member of the european parliament from 1989 to 1994, provided some insights.

The battery directive
Directive the simulation was about the accumulator directive. This should reduce the amount of lead, mercury and cadmium in all types of batteries in general.

The extent to which accumulators must be disposed of in the normal waste system should also be agreed upon. A take-back system for used batteries was not yet standard at the start of this legislative process in 2003.

Recycling also means that between 55 and 75 percent of the components of a used battery should be recycled. The negotiations lasted three full years and went all the way to the last instance – the mediation committee.


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