In Budapest, economics students modified the EU’s budget – at a simulated Council meeting. The special event was held at Corvinus University on 16 April. The students’ performance was observed and evaluated by the Hungarian Presidency’s spokespersons.
The lengthy negotiation of almost seven hours was concluded with a compromise. The team which represented the Hungarian Presidency played an important part in reaching the agreement. Along the way, they felt and acknowledged the weight of the responsibility that falls to Ministers who chairs the meetings.
The event was organised by the Negotiation Moot Association, founded by Márton Hajdú and Gergely Polner in 2008. Now serving as the Hungarian Presidency’s spokespersons in Brussels, they were also members of the jury. The main activity of the association is to organise competitive negotiation simulation games, called EU Negotiation Moot for university students. Márton Hajdú said that as “eurocrats” from Brussels, they sought to bring the EU closer to Hungarians by founding the association. During the course of a negotiation simulation, students learnt about the ways in which the EU works and functions, and acquired skills that were not included in the university curriculum, such as negotiation techniques, presentation skills and group work.
Sándor Gyula Nagy, Vice Dean for Education of Corvinus University of Budapest, encouraged the initiative of the association, and EU negotiation techniques be incorporated into the curriculum of MA students at the Faculty of Economics as an elective course.
Apart from the two Presidency spokespersons in Brussels and Sándor Gyula Nagy, the members of the jury were Piroska Bakos, spokesperson in Hungary, Tamás Szűcs, Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Hungary, István Joó EU expert, Ákos Madari, communication attaché of the European Parliament’s information office in Budapest, and István Perger, the European Parliament’s press attaché in Brussels.
In groups of three, students had to choose a country, prepare arguments for the purpose to represent their chosen country’s interests during the budgetary debate. After the presentation of the position of each country, the jury held a mid-term evaluation, which was then followed by the budgetary debate. Since the informal bilateral and plenary meetings yielded no result, another round of negotiations was needed.
After a lengthy debate, a new budget was finally agreed on at six o’clock in the evening. Compared to the preceding budget, this one reduces administrative costs and increases (to varying extents) the funds earmarked for enhancing competitiveness, cohesion support, agricultural and rural development, and migration management.
Kinga Bakos, Kata Bors and Kinga Krupanics, Masters in International Economy students, had an opportunity to experience the hardships of the Presidency’s tasks. They thought their task was harder than that of other teams, as they had to represent Hungary’s position, coordinate the discussions and, at the same time, fulfil administrative tasks, and above all else, to promote compromises.
“The girls showed that unless the Presidency assumes a leading role, discussions could easily get bogged down. By the end, we came to realise that if the Presidency takes a lead, it can overcome what previously seemed to be insurmountable obstacles,” highlighted Márton Hajdú. One of the most important lessons of the simulation was that it showed the Presidency’s scope of action, and its means of influencing the course of discussions (for example, by deciding on the order of votes).
Eventually, all participating students received an A for their course, and the jury awarded the first prize to the delegation representing Germany. The members of the first three teams won a study trip to Brussels.