Between the 16th and 19th of April 2015 the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung office in Zagreb (FES) and Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) organized the third and final seminar of the 2014 Course for Promising Politicians (CPP) in Zagreb, Croatia. The candidates of this program are young and promising social democratic politicians from the countries of former Yugoslavia and Albania. This seminar zoomed in on the inner workings of the institutions that make up the EU, as well as the processes involved in the accession of new candidate member states. Additionally a large part of the program was used to simulate the accession process, not only to learn about the accession process in a practical fashion but also to practice negotiations.
Day one: European Union & negotiations theory
The participants were welcomed by the director of the FES Zagreb office Max Brändle, who shed some light on the situation in Croatia since its accession to the EU. Shortly thereafter FMS trainers Michiel Emmelkamp and Kido Koenig introduced themselves as well as the rest of the program. The first day was not just used to learn more about the inner workings and dynamics of the various EU institutions, but also to stimulate discussion and critically reflect on the European dream and the role of the EU in the world as a global actor. As the first day came to a close, the trainers conducted a short simulation game in order to prepare the participants for the next day.
Day two: Simulation game with focus on the Balkans
During the second day the EU accession process was simulated. All participants had to play the relevant institutions (European Parliament, Commission and Council) or an applicant country. They did not only have to put the theory on the EU and negotiations from day one into use, they also had to use their political, debating and public speaking skills. Reports by the media proved to be a useful addition as it demonstrated the pressure external factors can put on the process. Because of this method the participants did not only learn about the workings of the EU institutions, but also, perhaps more importantly, on the dynamics of the institutions themselves as well as the interaction between them.
A representative of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) closed the day by elaborating on the political landscape in the country. The participants were specifically interested in the prospect of regional cooperation between social democratic parties: more importantly, how are the various social democratic parties able to help one another? The third and final day began with a guest speaker who spoke about Croatia’s first year of EU membership. As the third day came to an end the participants were awarded with a certificate.
Course for Promising Politicians
Since 2003 the Promising Politicians Course has been organized three times annually. It includes seminars on ideology, media and communications skills and EU integration. The aim of the course is to introduce young politicians to the various aspects of political leadership, governance and the dynamics and structures of party policies. In addition, the organisers aim to create a network among young and politically active persons and to improve their knowledge on the political developments of countries in the region.
The first seminar of this year’s program took place in Bečići, Montenegro (19-22 June) and discussed the ideology and policies of social democracy and other mainstream political theories. The second seminar took place in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina (30 October – 2 November) and focused on media and communication skills.