Conference Model European Parliament Western Europe

Between 17 and 22 November, eighty young people aged 16 to 19 came to The Hague to take part in the Model European Parliament. On 18 November, the Province of Zuid-Holland hosted the Model European Parliament Western Europe. Their goal? To achieve in six days what sometimes takes years in Europe.

The Model European Parliament (MEP) is a simulation of the European Parliament for European students. MEP provides the opportunity for young people in their final years of secondary education to gain experience in coming up with solutions for cross-border problems within the European Union. The province hosts the MEP, so that young people in the role of 'Euro-parliamentarians’ can get acquainted with the complex process of European decision-making, and gain an understanding of the importance of the cooperation between the various EU Member States.

During the conference - often abbreviated by participants with the term MEP - young people from different European countries meet to jointly consider the issues for which their adult colleagues cannot always find a solution. "Quite regularly, this results in very surprising things," says organiser Camiel van Houdt. "Young people aren’t yet ‘shackled’, they think outside the frameworks of cultural differences and European regulations. As a result, they often come up with simple solutions that even Brussels regards surprising and creative."

During the MEP, they represent their country with a delegation of ten peers. Ahead of time, in their own country, they all immerse themselves in a specific important issue. "We choose themes that appeal to the young, but that Europe is unable to sort out," says Van Houdt. "We try to challenge them to consider two questions; what should Europe be involved in over the next twenty-five years, and what can I do to contribute to solving these kinds of big problem? That is why our slogan is Europe is your back yard. Europe and European problems are often closer to home than the young tend to think. The precise issues they consider can be found to the right.

To inspire them, they were also brought into contact with policy makers and influencers from various backgrounds. For example, vice-president of the Council of State Piet Hein Donner, first vice-president of the Lower House Ton Elias, and Euro-parliamentarian Marietje Schaake made keynote speeches on 18 November during the conference in the Council Hall of the Province of Zuid-Holland. The results of this and subsequent MEP-conferences will be presented in the European Parliament in Brussels on 9 February 2017.