European Council Forum

Voices from the EU Delegates on the Y8 and Y20 Summits 2013 and on YEL.

The European Council Forum offers participants many ways to learn about the EU, to impersonate the European leadership, and to gain valuable negotiation experience. Participants will all be in the position to discuss with diplomats and experts with leading experience on European and International Affairs. Moreover it is an excellent opportunity to meet many likeminded peers to share a great experience.

Participants will all be in position to demonstrate their negotiation skills during the proposed exercises at the Council Forum. Various European nationalities will be present and represent their positions on “hot” topics in a realistic way. This will be a unique opportunity for to have a concrete insight into the European decision-making processes as well as the whole spectrum of various national positions towards issues discussed at the European level.

Participants will all be in position to choose among a dozen of Council formations, i.e. not dealing with banana curves and iron quotas in nails, but with key topics which divide the EU Member States; together with decisions which are making the headlines, as well as projected events which are likely to happen and where the EU will have to swiftly react.

See yourself and check the testimonials or read below more about our events in 2013 and 2014.

Even more insights on YEL’s events are provided at our Flickr account, on our facebook page, and on youtube! There you also find YEL’s interviews with global and European policy makers such as the Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and the G20 Sherpa of the European Union António José Cabral. They offered their views on the role of young people in global politics and gave advice for aspiring Young (European) Leaders.

European Council Forum 2014

It was an extremely useful experience and it allowed me to gain a deeper insight into the real diplomatic world. Chiara Amato (from Italy)

Opening of the ECF 2015 at the European Commmission

Opening of the ECF 2014 at the European Commission.

The European Council Forum (ECF) in March 2014 brought together 30 students and young professionals to negotiate on key-questions European politics faces currently. The opening ceremony took place at the European Commission. Members of the EU Sherpa team met the participants and discussed both the frame of the work of an EU Sherpa, as well as the EU’s position in international forums such as the G20 or the G8. The debates with YELW participants were lively, and touched the very sensitive topic on EU’s relation with Russia after the Ukrainian crisis, as well as the question of transparency and democracy of meetings such as the G20. After the opening participants assembled in their panels for one and a half days of negotiations on a range of topics from the South Sudan Crisis to how to avoid the risk of an Italian exit from the Eurozone and how to tackle shale gas.


The European Council Forum starts Friday morning and lasts until Saturday evening. A detailed program is added below. The negotiations are at the heart of the ECF. In 2014 you get the chance to debate on:

  • Energy: Shale gas exploration Poland and UK want to start fracking and would like to approach the European council to renegotiate fracking legislation within the EU. Economic development or environmental issues are at stake but also a chance for energy independence from the Middle East and Russia. Be part of the debate that could reshape the EU energy future.
  • Human Rights: Free trade agreement negotiation with Russia Trade agreement with Russia is about to get in place but within Russia, the Duma is about to pass a law that seriously infringes human rights. In what way should the EU respond to this in terms of the free trade agreement that would be hugely beneficial for the economics of the EU?
  • Economics and Finance: Italy’s risk of exiting the Euro-zone Italy is on the verge to default in one month and also waiting to take over the EU presidency, thus a default is inconceivable. The Banking union will be used for the first time and now the supervision of the Italian economy needs to be deciding upon. How will the cleanup of the Italian economy happened? Moreover, how the funds for the bailout should be divided among the other European countries needs to be discussed also. As a representative for a specific country you need to consider your countries ability to fund the bailout as well as the political support at home for this unpopular but absolute necessary task.
  • International security: Crisis in the South Sudan and a EU response The conflict in South Sudan draws to a state of civil war, mostly fuelled by traditional ethnic divisions in the most recent State. South Sudanese government asked the EU and the African Union to draw up plans for an international intervention, with the scope of stopping the ongoing fighting’s as well as to pacify the belligerent factions in the near future, allowing all communities to live in peace. The High Representative for the Common Security and Defense policy considers this to be a trial of the very first common EU mission and a test for the future of the European defense strategy. How should the mission look like, should the EU take a military approach or civilian approach to the risk of ethnic cleansing within South Sudan?

Detailed Program

Friday March 7th
Registration of participants
Official opening of ECF
Negotiation Session 1
Negotiation Session 2
Negotiation Session 3
Dinner & Exploring Brussels
Saturday March 8th
Negotiation Session 4
Negotiation Session 5
Wrap up of negotiations
Closing of ECF
Social Event & Exploring Brussels

European Council Forum 2013

In May 2013 Young European Leadership and its partner organisation Youth Diplomacy jointly organised a simulation of the Council of Europe. Students and Young Professionals from all over Europe participated in this event to discuss pressing issues in the areas of culture and education, employment and social affairs, the environment, development, justice, economics and politics. Insights into the European decision-making processes were conveyed to the participants. The simulation and a public speaking workshop led by YEL’s Vice President Flóra Rétfalvi gave the participants a the chance to develop their negotiation, presentation, and diplomatic skills.

More insights on YEL’s events are provided at our Flickr account, on our facebook page, and on youtube! There you also find YEL’s interviews with global and european policy makers and important stakeholders, who provided their view on the role of young people in global politics and gave advice for aspiring Young (European) Leaders.


  • European Council: Application of Article 7 procedure on Hungary: How to deal with a Member State which refuses to bent its constitutional reforms to reflect EU values? Article 7 procedure was never used in the history of the EU, will the Heads of State be brave enough to push for restrictive measures against another fellow member?
  • General Affairs Council: Negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020: How to design a budget for the EU that fits into a Europe-wide state of economic desolation, pleasing the heralds of austerity, while at the same time satisfying growing needs in the fields of education, social and cohesion funds, and so many other policies; also reflecting the growing competencies of the EU as a whole?
  • Foreign Affairs Council: Redesigning the Euro-Mediterranean Union: How can the EU act in favour of a better integration of its southern neighborhood, while the political situation is still not stable in “Arab Spring” countries? Should we fear the “Islamic Winter” in countries of our direct vicinity?
  • CSDP Council: Preparation for a military intervention in Syria: When a handful of European countries declare that they will engage militarily in Syria, after Assad’s regime crossed the red line by using chemical weapons against rebels, how the EU will act? United or divided again?
  • Economic Affairs CouncilCouncil: European Bank Supervision Mechanism: While all EU governments agree that something has to be done to prevent the catastrophic chain of events that lead to the worst economic crisis since the 20’s, will they also agree on the method? Will countries that signed up for this project still agree to leave their banks under direct ECB supervision?
  • Eurogroup meeting: Reaction to a Slovenian bailout: The Slovenian government just declared in an official communiqué that it will need a help from the European Financial Stability Facility to cope with a difficult refinancing of their banks. Although Slovene economy is not massive, some Member States are wary of further solidarity payments. Moreover, neither the Greek, or Cypriot or Irish method cannot be simply transposed on the case of this small Alpine Republic!
  • Justice and Home Affairs Council: Proposal for a European same-sex marriage and adoption directive: When the Commission registers a European Citizens’ Initiative on the recognition of gay marriage in Europe led by a large number of equal rights activists and supporters throughout the EU, no consensus can be found at the Council, and a majority of Member States refuse this major break from traditional values. How will the Council deal with such Directive proposal?
  • Development Council: EU aid to earthquake-stricken Iran: Europe is the biggest donor of development and humanitarian aid in the world, and proud of it. What happens when pure humanist concerns clash with hard-core politics, where Iran, and its Bushehr nuclear plant is a major security threat that deserves no gifts?
  • Environment Council: Shale gas exploitation in Europe: How can an EU position be forged on the permission to exploit shale gas on the territory of Member States when some are decisively lobbying against the ecological pollution this method brings, while other countries see here a fantastic way to get rich, and to become energetically independent from Russian gas?
  • Employment and Social Affairs Council: Implementation of the Youth Guarantee: With an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament enacted support to this initiative, aiming at bringing education, job or training to many young people in Europe. The Council, on the other hand, hesitates to allocate the necessary money for it, due to austerity requirements, as well as open questions on the effectiveness of such measure and the quality of the proposed jobs for the youth.
  • Culture and Education Council: Erasmus: Although seen by many as the most successful of EU policies, the “Erasmus” programme legally finishes in 2013. Discussions are underway for the new and broader “Erasmus for All” programme, that will require almost 2% of the total EU budget. This is something many Member States are reluctant to afford, unless the share is taken from the “Youth in Action” fund. Moreover, few governments agree on the branding issue, or whether the program should go beyond its current scope.


  • 09:00 – 09:30 : WELCOME OF PARTICIPANTS
  • 09:30 – 10:40 : OPENING CONFERENCE
  • 09:30 – 09:40 : Welcoming words
  • 09:40 – 10:30 : Keynote speeches
  • 10:30 – 10:50 : Presentation of the Council simulation
  • 11:00 – 13:00 : NEGOTIATIONS, FIRST ROUND
  • 11:00 – 13:00 : Negotiations
  • 13:00 – 14:00 : Lunch offered by Youth Diplomacy & Young European Leadership
  • 14:00 – 14:30 : Workshop Cultural differences; First impressions
  • 14:30 – 18:30 : NEGOTIATIONS, SECOND ROUND
  • 14:30 – 17:30 : Negotiations
  • 17:30 – 18:30 : Evening Workshop : Diplomatic skills, Art of compromise
  • 19:00 : Afterwork and meeting the Team: Staff of Young European Leadership and its partners will be delighted to answer questions, present projects, as at any other moment during the week-end!

Sunday 19th of May : Council Conclusions

  • 09:00 – 13:00 : NEGOTIATIONS, THIRD ROUND
  • 08:30 – 09:00 : Welcoming participants
  • 09:00 – 12:30 : Resuming of the Negotiations, writing of the Council Conclusions
  • 12:30 – 13:30 : Lunch
  • 13:30 – 14:30 : Finalization of Council Conclusions
  • 15:00 – 18:00 : CONCLUSION
  • 15:00 – 15:30 : Presentation of all Council Conclusions
  • 15:30 – 17:00 : Closing Conference « Where is the voice of the European Youth ? »
  • 17:00 – 18:00 : Concluding words from Youth Diplomacy & Young European Leadership
  • 18:00 : Afterwork