Project Reference: 2015-3-FR02-KA347-010857
Country: France
Type of Project: Dialogue between young people and policy makers
The two primary objectives of Model European Strasbourg, as previously stated, are to educate and unite. Through role-play and the intensive debate of two relevant topics, participants learn in great depth about the European Union’s decision-making process, the role of each EU institution and the influence of state and non-state actors. In addition to this, participants are afforded the opportunity to interact with policy-makers and professionals from the EU, local governments and relevant NGOs, as well as interpreters, journalists and lobbyists with appropriate experience.Our second objective, to unite, is one that is greatly facilitated by Erasmus+’s allowance of partner countries outside the EU and beyond Europe. Each year we have about 200 participants ranging in age from 18 to 26. They are predominantly citizens of EU member states and neighbouring European countries, but we receive increasing interest in the conference from young people in the Caucasus, Middle East and North Africa. It is the coming together of so many different nationalities (last year there were thirty) for a common interest that we believe is a uniting factor.The majority of participants are university students and recent graduates of subjects like European Studies, International Relations and Political Science, but due to the variation of roles offered we also receive those from backgrounds as diverse as economics to interpretation, journalism to even medicine. For enthusiasm and knowledge of European politics and indeed culture is not limited to those who have made it their discipline.In terms of our activity throughout the year, we ordinarily hold one or, depending on funds, two preparatory meetings. These provide a rare opportunity for three or four dozen of the available organisers to gather and discuss issues pertaining to the organising process in the same room together, as well as to coordinate with project partners. In the past we have held preparatory meetings in Birmingham, Bucharest and Warsaw and this year will do so in Brussels.The main activity, however, is the conference itself. Over the six weeks leading up to the conference, participants will have learned about and the two debate topics and the relevant EU legislative procedures and will then attend workshops from relevant professionals. After this, they are ready to convene at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to adopt the roles of MEP, Minister of the Council of the EU, Interpreter, Journalist and Lobbyist to simulate the EU’s law-making process.Our final activity is a follow-up meeting in which organisers evaluate the success of the conference, taking into account the extensive feedback submitted by participants. It allows us to moot possible improvements for the following year and to discuss the development of further links with our partners.Participants leave the conference having witnessed first-hand the benefits and power of cooperation, debate and diplomacy. Our desired impact on them is exactly this: to increase their awareness of the EU on both a political level and a human one. They do not leave with just a better knowledge and understanding of the influence and role of each EU institution, but also with a greater appreciation of European culture and identity.