How it was to be president of European Parliament for one day
During the Role play Game “Creating jobs - Mission possible” at the European Youth Event 2014 in Strasbourg, 30 young Europeans (aged 16-30) were simulating the working and the procedures of the European Parliament. As participants, we had to act, speak and be like Members of the European Parliament, and in the process learn about its role in the EU’s decision making as well as the most important policy issues facing the EU today. The main topic of our simulation was youth unemployment and subjects related to it, such as the reform of the EU’s education policy, the Bologna process implementation, the youth migration inside the European Union, the labour market policy and the funding of the “Youth Guarantee”.
A legislative proposal by the European Commission – provided by the organizers on the basis of real-life legislation – forms the basis of the debate in the European Parliament. The objective for participants playing the role of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) is to adopt a report reflecting the Parliament’s position on the given matter. MEPs will attempt to influence the Parliament’s position by arguing for modifications to the Commission proposal, reflecting their interests and values as members of their respective political groups and national delegations. The final version of the Parliament’s position will be published in the Final Report. Therefore the role play game gives young Europeans the opportunity to present their collective ideas for a better Europe to the real European political decision-makers.
As a participant in this simulation, I had to prepare an online pre-test, containing 50 multiple-choice questions. Questions are testing participant’s basic knowledge of the European Union (20), specific knowledge of the European Parliament (10), and upcoming European Parliament elections (10). 10 further questions are in connection with and promoting the European Youth Event 2014. It was really interesting to find out important information on general topics of Europe like the Schengen Agreement, the Maastricht treaty, the institutions of the European Union, the different political parties and some useful details regarding the European Parliament. During the second phase of the Role play game, each participant had again to answer a second test with questions regarding youth unemployment in European Union. Based on the test results, some positions (the president of the European Parliament, the Chairperson of the relevant Committee, shadow rapporteurs) were appointed by the organisers and also all the participants got their political group allocations.
“President of the European Parliament?!!!”, I asked myself. “What I should do? How I should behave? Will I have many responsibilities?” These were the first thoughts that came into my mind together with anxiety and impatience! That was an opportunity to understand the importance of having power in your hands, the importance of deciding for young people’s lives.
Thus, I prepared myself properly. I read the rules of the Role play game, my obligations and the important role I had to play during the whole simulation in order to keep the respect between the MEPs. And of course, I prepared my speech! I was so stressed about what to say and how to express it, but I was sure that I must point out the huge problem of young unemployment nowadays. In addition, together with the other members of my political group, we drew up a confidential position paper on the theme we were negotiating: what were our priorities, what do we want to achieve in the simulation and how. Each political group had to prepare their own position paper and submit it the day before the simulation.
The day of the simulation arrived! The Role play game took place inside the Parliament and all the members were excited to participate. The organisers welcomed us and then as president of the European Parliament, I introduce the MEPs, the shadow rapporteurs of each political group and also expressed my concerns on the young people’s problems. During the simulation, each MEP and the elected (by the MEPs) rapporteur had the chance to state their views and arguments on each topic and the whole atmosphere turned so warm and energetic. Dialogue and respect were the two most valuable things achieved in that room. We voted, we made coalitions with other political groups and finally we managed to vote the amendments for the proposal which later took its final form and got accepted by the European Committee.
Overall, the whole experience will be unforgettable for all of us! Although there have been some inconveniences which are not important to be mentioned, the excitement, passion, energy, fun, strength and respect we gained by this simulation will make us more mature.
When I got out of the room, I was so proud to be part of this game and at least for one day President of the European Parliament! Now, I am ready to fight for the most important problem in young people’s lives: the youth unemployment!