Fahnen der EU-Mitgliedsländer wehen am Eingang zum Europaparlament in Strassburg


Module 1: You and the EU – What does the EU actually do and how does it affect my everyday life?

Learning objectives

The students …
  • are sensitised for the reach of EU politics and they realise what effect it has on their everyday life.
  • can name different areas of responsibility of the EU.
  • understand the process from draft directive to law by means of an example. They comprehend the synergy of different EU organs involved in the process of passing of a law.
  • scrutinise prejudices about the EU concerning opacity and influence of lobbyism.
Introduction Decision Game (M 01.01): What decisions does the EU take?
Decision GameDecision Game (© Team Research with GrafStat)
Playing the decision game, the students are supposed to decide whether a EU regulation or directive exits or not. The decision game can be played online or in class by means of a work sheet (PDF). In this case, the teacher is provided with additional material (Info 01.01) comprising instructions, solutions and further information concerning the game.

Transition: In a teacher-class dialogue, it is highlighted that the EU’s doings and its impact on our everyday lives are often unknown to the public.

Working out of areas of responsibility: What does the EU actually do?
Method: Think pair shareMethod: Think pair share (© Team Research with GrafStat)
Based on the text about the everyday life of a teenager (M 01.02), which includes lots of details about EU regulations / directives, and using the Think-Pair-Share method students can work out different consequences for EU citizens of decisions taken by the EU. Students name 4 to 5 superordinate areas of responsibility / fields of actions of the EU. The results are recorded on post-its. They are collected, discussed and sorted (according to the areas of responsibility) in the subsequent classroom discussion.

The text includes links with further information which can be used complementarily for the work on the areas of responsibility, just as the known facts learned in the decision game (M 01.01).

Exemplary Working Out: How does the implementation of an EU regulation / directive work exactly? The animation movie about about the EU regulation of plastic waste (M 01.03) serves as an exemplary problem which is regulated on European level, however, the implementation varies in different member states, that is to say the consequences for EU citizens differ.
  • The directive on plastic waste is addressed from various perspectives (e.g. fisherman, environmentalist, tourism, holidaymaker, etc.).
  • Students deal with the directive and its consequences.
  • Results are discussed in class.
Additional text: “From Draft Directive to Law“ (M 01.04) illustrates the complexity of developing and implementing an EU directive or regulation respectively. Moreover, the text sheds light upon the fact that next to the EU organs and the member states, lobbyists have a bearing on the final legislation due to their advisory activity.

Memorising Phase: The results are discussed in class. Depending on the time available, students can conduct fictional interviews concerning the issue.

Interim conclusion: Students’ knowledge as wells as general public knowledge about the EU’s tasks and work is rather weak. Besides, the implementation of directives and regulations is quite complex and not necessarily transparent. Keywords: Opacity, lobbyism.

Text for consolidation:
Prejudices against the EU?!Prejudices against the EU?! (© Team Research with GrafStat)
Finally, the students work out the text “The EU – A Political Monstrosity” (M 01.05) about opacity, lobbyism and the democratic deficit via 5-step-reading method. They face up to the fact that this very complexity may provide the base for common prejudices about the EU.

Additional material:
Interview Dr. Matthias FreiseInterview Dr. Matthias Freise (© Team Research with GrafStat)
Expert's interview with Dr. Matthias Freise (WWU Münster) about the EU’s democratic deficit. In an interview Dr. Matthias Freise (Department of Political Sciences at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster) elucidates possible reasons for the often criticised democratic deficit in the EU. He further discusses opportunities to overcome it. The interview refers to many aspects addressed in other materials and consolidates them. Therefore, the interview enables a repetition and consolidation of the subject matter on the one hand. On the other hand, it allows for a better memorisation of the the information learned about the democratic deficit.

Conclusion Module 1: The module is supposed to rise the students‘ awareness about the fact that knowledge about the EU is limited and the appearance of the EU (its work and tasks) is oftentimes non-transparent. What does this mean for me? What about my knowledge about the EU? (Transition to Module 2)

A PDF-Icon summary table concerning the schedule of this module is available.