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

Practical arrangements

Layout of the classroom.   If feasible convert into a semi circle of desks or just chairs with a desk at the centre for the chairman.

If a session of the specialist committee has preceded the plenary session, it is suggested that different students take the roles of chairman and rapporteur.

Divide the class, using numbers or similar, into say the five main political groups. The groups should sit together and choose their leader to chair discussion before the debate starts on which way to vote.

Order paper:  there needs to be copies of the text of the draft law, for the leaders of the political groups and perhaps for all members.

Procedure for the debate
  The Chairman calls the meeting to order, welcomes all those present, and announces the purpose of the meeting, namely to decide on a new legislative proposal.

The chairman invites the rapporteur of the specialist committee to present the proposal. (three to four minutes)

The chairman invites members to speak for not more than two minutes. Members wishing to speak must raise their hands.

Tips for speakers: listen to what other members say so when you speak you don’t repeat what has been and so as to counter arguments.

When the chairman decides the arguments have been fully aired he/she invites the rapporteur to sum up.  Summing up means taking account of arguments for and against that have been put, concluding with a very brief restatement of the original case, and calling for support for the recommendation.

The chairman asks for the vote by a show of hands.  Votes are counted by the tellers and the numbers for and against declared.  The decision in the case of the role play is by simple majority.


  • If following review by the committee and debate in a plenary session the Parliament rejects the proposal the action including the role play stops there.
  • If it accepts the proposal with minor changes, or amends the proposal with major changes, those changes need to be added to the draft received from the Commission.

Both the Council of Ministers and the Commission need to be informed of the outcome of the Parliamentary debate.

The next stage is for the proposals, as amended, to go to the Council of Ministers.