European Youth Parliament: first-hand experience of European politics

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From the 1st to the 3rd of March a group of students of our school took part in the European Youth Parliament’s regional session in Leoben. The EYP is a politically unbound, non-profit organization with the goal to encourage the European youth to actively participate and engage in political education. As the EYP’s sessions include people from various countries and therefore various languages, it is held in English.

Our time in Leoben started around midday with some getting-to-know each other activities and subsequently we were introduced to our pre-determined committees, in our cases CULT 1 and CULT 2. The evening of the first day concluded with cultural program, including a dinner consisting of the different participants’ countries’ food.

The next day was spent planning, discussing and working out the topic in the committee you were a part of. This proved to be a long and exhausting, but rewarding experience as it took until late into the night – and for some even until early the next day – to work out all the points and organize all the committees’ ideas into one booklet.

On the last day, the main event actually took place, the so-called General Assembly, which mimics the one held by the European Parliament. All dressed in formal attire, each committee would sit with each other, the previously written booklet, notes and pens nearby to prepare for the event. The groups went one by one, each presentation starting with a reading of the committee’s operative clauses they had found, followed by a defense speech of the proposing group to convince the assembly and the board of their ideas. The latter is then proceeded by an impromptu attack speech by one or two of the other committees where they criticize the approach and offer their own solutions. A member of the proposing team has to respond to the points raised by their “opponent”. Afterwards, the open debate starts, and all committees are allowed to voice their opinion to the proposing committee, whether they criticize something, have a question to ask or simply agree to the group’s work does not matter. A round is concluded by the plenary, who then gives the voice to a member of the proposing committee who has to respond, answer or thank each of the other teams’ remarks. Usually there are three rounds of open debate per topic presented. Ultimately, one of the proposing members holds a summation speech to summarize the main points made and to once again appeal to the board to vote in their favor. Lastly, there is the voting process where it is possible to vote for or against or to abstain.

All in all, it was a great and rewarding experience from which we profited greatly, as we returned home not only encouraged to participate in further political activities and with more knowledge about the world of politics, but also with new friends of various nationalities.

Text: Anna Strassmeier (8A)
Fotos: courtesy of Regional Sessions of EYP Austria / students

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