Role-play debates

European Commission / Parliament / Council of Ministers

This module suggests debating the making of a new law – setting up the debates, and following through the democratic process.

The role-play is set in turn in two levels of the European Parliament and then in the Council of Ministers, following the normal process of law-making.

This module complements the introductory exercise on Why do you need new laws?
and How the EU makes laws.

Objectives and introduction


  • Help students to listen, understand and work with people who have a different point of view and be able to reach a workable compromise through negotiation.
  • Learn by role play how to apply those skills to the process of making new laws in Europe.

Preparing for the Debates

In the Commission you will be a member of the committee that has to decide whether to develop a draft law on the subject. Refer to what the Commission has to consider when deciding whether or not to draft a law.

A Specialist Committee of the European Parliament

Specialist Committee
In the European Parliament, draft laws are first reviewed by a specialist committee and then by a plenary session of the Parliament.

The specialist committee will study the draft law in detail, consult with experts, special interest groups such as lobbies, and political leaders in member states. The European Commission is represented by an observer who can contribute to the discussion but without voting powers. Committee members, who will have relevant expertise of their own, will be representatives of all the political groupings in proportion to their numbers in Parliament.

A full session of the European Parliament

Role-play – a full session of the European Parliament

European Parliament

After being first reviewed by a specialist committee draft laws then go to a plenary session of the European Parliament.


  • President of the European Parliament.   He/she chairs the debates, has the vote and, if needed (very rarely used), the casting vote.
  • Rapporteur of the specialist Parliamentary committee. He/she presents the recommendations of the committee
  • Leaders of the political groups. They decide in consultation with members of the group how the group will vote.
  • MEPs. They debate and vote on the recommendations. They normally vote as European political groups.  Occasionally they vote as member state political groups

The Council of Ministers

Role-play – the Council of Ministers

Council of Ministers
This committee could follow the legislative sequence and wait for the Parliament to consider the proposal. Or it could first meet to discuss the proposal as first drafted by the Commission and then meet a second time to discuss any amendment made by the Parliament.

In the Council of Ministers each role will be a cabinet minister or ambassador from a member state.