by Thomas Dechamps, France
Student in European Journalism at IHECS, Belgium
“Youth unemployment is your problem too! So be concerned!” A member of the EPP group is losing his calm in front of his colleague of the EDF group. It is understandable; the Eurosceptic MEP is striking his opponents with outrageous nationalistic verbal diatribes since the beginning of the plenary session. And each time his supporters are applauding loudly his new punch line against the European Union and its representatives.
This happened this Friday in the Parliament of Strasbourg but hopefully it will not have any political consequences. These MEP’s are actually young people from different countries of the European Union taking part of a role play game in the context of the European Youth Days. They have been invited to simulate the work of the European Parliament and act as true MEP’s during an entire day of debates and votes about the problem of youth unemployment. The roles are distributed in advance following the composition of the real European Parliament: the EPP is the biggest group, the S&D the second one, etc. Around 30 young European people attempt to influence the position of the assembly in accordance with the interests of their own political group. At the end of the process, a basic legislative proposal is voted and the group who succeeded to impose his view in the text wins the game.
The panel of young voluntaries seems to have appreciated the experience. “I was wondering what it was to be in the shoes of a Member of the European Parliament” says Emilia Chechtova, a Bulgarian girl who assumed the role of a member of the EFD group during the game. “In Brussels I had the opportunity to observe and follow the work of the MEP’s but I was mute and I have no words. Now I can express myself”. Melanie De Groot, a 16 years old French girl representing the Greens, adds: “It is also because youth unemployment is a very attractive topic, we all feel concerned”.
As the organizers said in the opening speech, “playing simulation is both fun and educational”. Melanie De Groot gladly agrees with this and asserts that she has learned a lot about the European politics as well about the art of speaking in public. Sophie Brunner, her teammate in the Greens group, doesn’t hide her desire to actually work one day for the European institutions and this game has definitively convinced her she would like it.
Matthias Berger, the one-day Nigel Farage and a nice Austrian school representative in the real life, don’t say anything else : “I love to talk like politicians, act like them and react on such things”. He was pretty convincing in his role of the sworn enemy of the European Union, but hopefully it was just a role. The experience has on the contrary teached him and to all his mates how much European politics are important. Which does not mean it can’t be fun too.