It is important to the success of the simulation that you give some thought early on to how teams will be assigned. When choosing teams, remember that in this case conflict is a good thing. The more debate, the more interesting the simulation. Also, try to create balanced teams with a mix of more ambitious with less, more outgoing with less and so on. If the most talented students are grouped into just a few teams they may well dominate the entire simulation.
The exception to this would be for the country team that holds the ‘presidency’. In the real EU, the presidency is rotated with each country having a six-month turn. For this simulation, any member country can be chosen to hold the presidency. As in the real EU, this country team will act as session chair, following the Rules Of Procedure. This means they will be responsible for directing the flow of each session, keeping order, monitoring the time, taking notes, counting votes and ultimately bringing the group to settle on a final policy. Despite the extra work involved, teams holding the presidency have a lot of fun playing this role. Nevertheless, this team should have at one or two extra persons assigned and should have a few of your most enthusiastic and responsible students as members.
Experience dictates that choosing teams ahead of time is a good idea. It is also recommended to stick to the team assignments, allow switches only when teams experience significant conflict or if a particular student has a special interest in a country. The ideal team size is 2-3 students. Each team should determine specific roles for their members, such as researcher, writer, negotiator, or speaker, based on the talents and interests of each student. This should be left up to the students to decide.
This EU simulation has been successfully used in classes with as few as 12 students to as many as 202. To accommodate the number of students in your class, you’ll need to decide how many countries to include and how many students will be on each team.
When the actual Chocolate Directive was passed in 2000, the European Union consisted of only fifteen members. It is not necessary to include every member country either way. However, when choosing countries, it is a good idea to provide some balance in terms of the positions held in the debate, region and economy, and the number of votes allotted to each country. As an example, the following countries were chosen for the twelve-student chocolate simulation: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland and Portugal.
In reality, the debate was fairly evenly split between chocolate-purist countries and those making Cadbury style chocolate.
Purists: Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, and Spain
Non-purists: Austria, Finland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Portugal
- 55% of member states vote in favour – in practice this means 16 out of 28
- the proposal is supported by member states representing at least 65% of the total EU population
This new procedure is also known as the ‘double majority’ rule.
A growing Europe
In July of 2004, ten new members were admitted to the European Union. Some EU experts expect the chocolate directive to be revisited in the near future because of the new challenges resulting from this expansion. Though information isn’t provided here on the new members and their position in the chocolate debate, it isn’t difficult to find information on chocolate and its production in many of these countries. (Using Google, search for “chocolate” and the name of a country.) You might discuss with your class after the simulation how things might have turned out differently if the directive were passed now.
What to do with an odd number of students?
You might add a role for members of the press. As a reporter, a student may interview country representatives (fellow students) and report conflicts, pacts and negotiations. They might also mix things up a bit by reporting real or made-up events – in or outside of the EU – that could impact the debate. The real example of child slavery in West Africa is a case in point. Or a made-up protest held by French and Belgian chocolatiers and their supporters could be reported. Be creative in determining how this ‘news’ reaches the rest of the class.
Once you’ve assigned teams…
…you can print out and distribute information sheets for each country team. Hand these out at the first session.