Experiencing the EUThis evening I was delighted to take part in a Round Table, intended to help launch a book entitled Experiencing the European Union: Learning how EU negotiations work through simulation games (Rubbettino), by Marco Brunazzo and Pierpaolo Settembri. The latter was once one of my students and then my assistant at the College of Europe in Bruges and shows every sign of becoming a prolific author and teacher as well as an excellent Commission official. In addition to the authors (Brunazzo is a Professor at the University of Trento) the other Round Table speakers were Mariolina Eliantonio (an Associate Professor at Maastricht University) and Albert Alemanno (Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law, HEC, Paris), and our discussion focussed more particularly on different ways of teaching about the EU and bringing it to life for students. Simulations, as set out in the Brunazzo and Settembri book, are one very effective way of doing that. I had looked out my Bruges course notes. I developed a silmulation of a conciliation procedure and reminded Pierpaolo that he had once played Signor Volpe, MEP, and managed to convince his fellow MEPs that a bridge should indeed be built across the Messina Straits! Eliantonio spoke to us about another approach, problem-based learning, and Alemanno spoke about an American import that he is in the process of adapting, an EU policy and regulatory affairs clinic. The point I made in my opening remarks is that such ‘games’ are not just good for students. I am sure that policy makers and legislators could render their negotiations and decision-making much more efficient if they gamed outcomes before taking on the real thing. And simulations give a fresh sense to the concept of learning on the job. As for the students, an abiding lesson drawn from the experience was surely that the strongest hands did not always win and the weakest hands did not always lose – ask Signor Volpe!