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Model European Union Strasbourg 2015
Start date: Jan 1, 2015, End date: Jul 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Model European Union Strasbourg Project began out of the need to enable young people to better understand how the European Union works and to help them achieve decision, debate and cooperation skills. Its core aim is to educate young people in a non-formal learning environment about the decision-making process in the EU and therefore the interactions between its institutions. The project also facilitates direct communication between young people and policy-makers. Every year we welcome more than 150 young participants. The majority of these participants are students and come from a European studies, law or political science background. However, participants from unrelated academic backgrounds are also welcomed. The decision-makers and experts that take part in the project range from EU officials, representatives from national governments, academic specialists and industry professionals. All of them are selected on the basis of the relevance of their professional backgrounds to the two topics that get debated during each edition of the project. The first activity that we organised is a preparatory meeting, covered under our own funds. This meeting not only allowed the organisers to discuss various aspects of the project and coordinate with partners, but it also enabled them to get advice from the policy-makers that were present. The conference itself was the most important activity, taking place in the premises of the European Parliament in Strasbourg in spring 2015. It began with a workshop day where our participants were able to question policy-makers regarding the two conference proposals and put across their own points of view. The five-day-long debates themselves gave the participants taking on the roles of MEPs and Ministers first-hand experience of working life for the European institutions. Those taking on roles as Lobbyists, Journalists and Interpreters gained valuable professional experience. In order to evaluate the project a follow-up meeting, covered under our own funds, was held in Mainz, Germany, a few months after the conference had taken place. This not only allowed us to discuss possible improvements for future editions of the project, but it also gave us time to discuss the development of further links with our partners. The two debate topics of the conference were: (1) The Data Protection Regulation (2) The European Banking Union Within each of the two topics, there were a number of strongly contentious issues. For instance, debated were whether people should have a right to be forgotten, whether the Single Resolution Fund that forms part of the Banking Union is fit for purpose, and whether it is fair for well-functioning banks in some countries to pay for failing banks in others. The topics covered therefore had great relevance, not only for the economic, but also legal and political future of Europe. To that extent, it also contributed to our thematic goal, namely to create a Europe consciousness in young people so as to foster a shared sense of responsibility and unity. After our participants left Strasbourg our hope is that they not only improved their debate, decision and cooperation skills, but that they have a greater awareness of what it means to be EU citizens. We also hope that the policy-makers who took part in the project saw the value in consulting with young people with regard to the formulation and implementation of policies, as it will be the young people whose later life will be affected by these policies.

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