June 14, 2016
Guest blog post by Hanna Pienczykowska, Director General of Model European Union Warsaw.
The population of the EU exceeds 500 million of people and the area that it covers is more than 4 million square kilometers. That’s a lot. Moreover, the Union consists of 28 member states that also have different political systems. National politics is very often more popular and also more interesting for citizens than European policy-making. EU-politics is impossible to follow, difficult to understand and boring. The policy-making is too complicated and influenced by only those who have money to pay the lobbyists. That’s what many people think about the EU and that’s also what media adjust to. Even if the EU affairs are covered in the mainstream media, the media analysts give rigid guidelines: don’t use the words “European Commission” as the viewers switch to another channel.
Would I agree with the arguments I mentioned above? Only with the first two sentences: yes, we live in the Union that has over 500 million citizens. Yes, it’s a huge area. And yes, finding common solutions for 28 member states with different political systems and national interests is not easy. That’s why the governance and policy-making at the EU level differs from what we know from our national governments and parliaments. You may like it or not, be a European federalist or a conservative, in order to act for your cause you need to know the democratic tools. The democratic process in the EU is the reason for which we can vote in the European elections. The Commissioners, even if not elected directly, are appointed from the politicians that were elected by citizens in the past. The Ministers in the Council are the ministers from our national governments. They are our democratic proxies. Personally I understood it towards the end of my studies. At this point I was done with textbooks, I was looking for some non-formal education that would give me a lot of fun and international contacts as well. That’s how I discovered MEU simulations.
A Model European Union simulation is a great way to understand how the EU policy-making works. The fundamental part of the simulation is the ordinary legislative procedure and two legislative proposals, presented by the Commission to the Parliament and the Ministers of the Council who discuss and amend the proposals. At MEU Warsaw we also host the European Council to enable discussion about the overall vision of Europe, and the journalists to show our participants how quality journalism imposes quality policy. While debating the topics which are crucial for the existence of the EU – like the energy union and security this year – participants play the roles assigned to them by the organizing team and never represent their own country. This roleplay makes you think about the reasoning of another party that the one you support yourself, teaches you respect towards others’ arguments and simply gives you a lot of fun while giving speeches and trying little games helping you achieve your goals on your fellow ministers or MEPs.
A good training before you join the real Brussels bubble. For those interested in drafting better energy solutions or the reform of the CSDP – applications to MEU Warsaw 2016, taking place 1-6 September, are still open.
Hanna Pienczykowska, President of Bringing Europeans Together Association Poland