MEU Vienna - Anett and Janka
At the end of February, three of our members, Anett Agócs, Janka Bálint and Kornélia Wéber got the opportunity to take part in a Model European Union (MEU) in Vienna, about which they would like to write a brief review to you.
Though I have participated in MUNs before, my MEU journey started in Vienna with this conference. On 22th February, at the House of the EU, a panel discussion was included in the Opening Ceremony on the European Defence Action Plan with MEP Lukas Mandl from the European People’s Party (EPP), MEP Eugen Freund from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Lukas Wank Security Expert, and Franziska Ramharter, one of our MEU Commissioners. The conversation was in connection with one of our topics, The European Defence Industry Programme Regulation and I believe all of us found it quite useful. Since many of us were beginners, we also had Workshops on the Rules of Procedure seperately for the Parliament and for the Council, and a Mock Debate.
The actual simulation started on 23th February. I represented Germany in EPP in the European Parliament and we started with the above mentioned topic, while the Council was debating on the second topic, The Directive to Enhance Cost-Effective Emission Reductions & Low-carbon Investments. So as you can see, participants can apply to the EP and to the Council of Ministers in MEUs, or they can join as journalists. They discuss two different topics at the same time in the two different bodies, they make amendments to the exact texts of real EU legislations and vote on every single amendments seperately, so did we on that day. We also had several Trialogue Meetings during the breaks and a Press Conference at the end of the day. It was extremely helpful to me to see the trialogues happen, because until that point I couldn’t imagine how they work in reality. In the evening we were invited to a dinner to “Zwölf Apostelkeller”, that was a pretty nice place.
On the next day, 24th February, the two bodies changed topics and started to discuss that version of the documents, that the other body has already amended. At the end of the day, we presented our amendments on the new topic to each other. There was only first reading in the MEU, so the bodies had to be okay with the final amendments of each other, there was no further sending back the documents to each other. We had a Private Party in that evening in a pub with some retro songs in subdued light. We voted on the whole proposals that the other body further amended on the last day, 25th February.
I think it doesn’t really worth comparing MEUs and MUNs regarding quality or standards. What you will find more suitable depends on what you’re interested in more. What the main difference is to me, is that in MEUs you’re dealing with exact EU texts, but I couldn’t always decide whether it makes knowing what to say easier or harder, especially when one paper is 60 pages long. Having bodies instead of committes isn’t such a difference, I think. The process of co-deciding is interesting however, even without second reading. Regarding dressing up, it was a bit less formal in the Parliament, then in a MUN committe. As for the Parliament in general, it was like 70 of us or more as far as I remember and the debate was mostly going on between the far-right and the far-left. That’s how the EPP got the Sleeping Beauty award, as sometimes we tried not to engage in the dialogues that they were pursuing and we chose working in silence instead. Otherwise, they were funny: for instance, we were discussing the question of greenhouse gas emission in the EU for half a day, when the UK interrupted the debate, emphasizing that by the way, the EU is still exporting straight bananas to them.
In overall, it was a pleasure to become a member of the MEU network and gain a deeper insight into the functioning of the EU, so I encourage you to try out MEUs as well. I think I don’t have to say that I got to know some amazing people there, with huge ambitions, strong skills and intersting personalities. Finally, one practice is really nice in MEUs: we wrote on one another’s placards some lines before leaving, that we could read after arriving home. I think it’s a kind gesture.
Model European Union Vienna will always hold a special place in my heart. If the fact that it is the first international diplomatic simulation I have ever attended was not enough, the company of enthusiastic young people from all over Europe, the great mix of professional events and social gatherings and the countless opportunities of gaining more knowledge of the inner workings of the European Union certainly made this four-day- long trip unforgettable.
As a Member of the European Parliament, a Romanian representative of the European People’s Party, I had the privilege of working with the biggest faction in the Parliament. This position guaranteed that while enjoying the often very loud and funny performance of our far-right and far-left colleagues we did meaningful work and had our fair share of backstage negotiations. These efforts were paid back when we passed the two documentations the conference dealt with - a proposal on the reform of the European Trading System, which deals with greenhouse gas allocations and a proposal on a common European Defence Industry Development Programme - in a form that aligned with our party’s priorities. As a law student, I especially enjoyed that during the debate we dealt with existing proposals of the European Commission and we saw how certain political goals could be translated to the language of legislation.
And let’s not forget the people! One thing is for sure: when I got home, I read back their sweet comments on my placard with both sorrow that the experience was over and a smile of the memories we share together.
After participating in MEU Strasbourg 2017 as an MEP and Munapest 2017 I was excited to experience all parts of a simulation and finally be a Minister in the Council at MEU Vienna 2018. MEUs are quite different compared to MUN as we discuss already written, real-life proposals by the European Commission. MEUV’s topics were a Regulation on establishing the European Defence Industrial Development Programme and a Directive on improving and extending the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme.
On the first conference day, on Friday, the Parliament discussed the regulation while the Council was working on the directive. As the French minister, I was lucky to have quite a big power due to the qualified majority voting and we managed to have a strong German-French-Italian coalition as well. We sat in alphabetical order in the room so I had Germany right next to me and Italy just around the corner, helping our communication. The directive was quite a challenge to understand, I am not even going to go into details about it but basically, it’s a directive amending a previous directive and on top of that the Emission Trade System is not the easiest EU project either. Luckily each topic has a Commissioner (a member of the organising team) who is responsible for it so we had someone to clarify our doubts and answer all our questions. After half a day of debate, during lunch break, it was time for the first Trialogue meeting. This means that representatives of the Parliament, the Council and the two Commissioners get together to discuss the events of the chambers and try to find consensus on both topics to help to achieve a proposal acceptable for all and make the co-decision procedure easier. For the first day, I had the honour to be a part of this meeting. We basically went through both topics and informed the MEPs about our position and vice-versa. In the afternoon we submitted our amendments and debated on them, leaving the venue after the press conference ready for voting tomorrow.
The Chambers started their Saturdays with voting on amendments and then exchanged topics and now the Council had heated debates on the European Defence Industrial Development Programme as amended by the Parliament. The morning was tough as we did not find common ground on whether or not to include candidate countries somehow in the Programme, mostly supported by the Bulgarian minister. I cannot go past the problem we had on this day that our chairs were both beginners and our Commissioner was not as enthusiast as the previous one, leaving most of the coordinating on us. Although, this also resulted in funny moments and situation when we were not sure whether it is us who chair ourselves or no. Saturday was a busy and hectic day because by the end of the day we voted on amendments to the regulation as well and then we rushed to the press conference to answer the questions of journalists.
After a long and fun Farewell party, we still had half a day to be serious. The Council needed to do one last voting on the Directive as amended by the Parliament a day before and the EP had to accept the version of the Regulation we had produced. Luckily both Chambers passed the texts and we could move on to the Closing Ceremony. After receiving certificates and signing each other’s placards we left chilly Vienna with many memories and lessons learnt.