Pupils from 22 schools across Northern Ireland recently visited Stormont to debate on two of the most important issues facing Europe.
The sixth form pupils were taking part in the annual Mock Council of the European Union, representing countries and recreating the environment of a real Council of the EU meeting.
Now in its 11th year, the annual event is organised by British Council Northern Ireland and the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, and saw the students tackle two topical issues: the current migration crisis in the Mediterranean and the EU’s €315bn Investment Plan.
Chaired by Jane Morrice from the European Economic and Social Committee, the debate saw Greece, represented by Lurgan College, come under fire in both debates, while Belfast High School and Bangor Grammar; acting as the UK and Finland, were also in the spotlight.
Representing the European Commission was Sacred Heart Grammar School, while Assumption Grammar school were the lucky winners of a trip to Brussels.
Speaking after the event, Colette FitzGerald, Head of the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, said: "We are delighted to support events for young people such as the Mock Council, which provide an ideal forum for students to gain a greater awareness of the European Union and the significant opportunities that it brings to Northern Ireland.
“At this event the students can learn in a practical way how political negotiations at EU level can influence their daily lives."
Also at the event was Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland.
He said: “The British Council is committed to providing international opportunities to schools in Northern Ireland and we firmly believe that a global outlook can enhance the skills and employability of young people in the global marketplace.
“Programmes like the Mock Council of the European Union provide an opportunity for students to research, debate and collaborate on issues but from the perspective of other European countries. Such intercultural skills can only enhance future careers and prospects.”
For more information on the Mock Council or any other programme available through the British Council visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org , follow on Twitter BCouncil_NI or on Facebook – www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland.