I wrote already some posts about my recent experience as a participant in the 2015 edition of the Strasbourg Model European Union simulation. I got attributed the role of an ECR deputy from the UK.
During the conference, I took some notes on things I found remarkable. Altogether, we have been quite creative to make our one-week adventure as out-standing as possible. Sometimes, I thought that we have created an atmosphere close to the reality, sometimes it felt like a parody. I enjoyed both!
If you have been part of the adventure, what was your personal highlight? In the following, I will share mine with you (in no particular order).
We were discussing the Data Protection Regulation and Lobbyists have been invited to comment on the current draft of the commission. The lobbyist representing the marketing enterprises played his role very well and started advocating for self regulation. That’s a classic!
Most sessions have been chaired by two honorable guys from Germany that were speaking English in the first case as this was the official MEU language. To confront the Parliament with the plurality of languages speaking during real sessions, they continued the next day in German. So far, so obvious. Fortunately, I speak German very well and the interpretation was doing a great job to translate everything that was said in 6 other languages or so. However, it got more interesting for me when the chairs switched to Italian and French. Another day, we got pleased with Parisian and Marseilles French: C’est parti!
French MEP Yannick announced at the beginning of his contribution to address the Parliament in French that would be the most beautiful language of the world. While some MEPs considered if this would comprise a right of reply (personal or national honour violated), the chair called the Parliament to order and stated that all 24 official EU languages of the EU are equally beautiful.
The other day, Yannick did the same move when expressing his respect for the interpreting French women that would be the most beautiful in the world. However, the Parliament was working too slow to reply to this. Or, I was too slow to note that some chair stated that of course all women in the EU are equally beautiful.
After the first days, a new faction “Progressive Feminists of Europe Party” (PFEP) was founded with 100% female members.
I would also have loved to change the faction during the conference just as an end in itself. However, as a Euro-critic, conservative UK representative, every change to the left would have been hard to explain and there was no way to go further to the right, as I was literally already placed on the right border. The extreme EFDD was accepting only real hardliners and refused me from the beginning.
MEP Niko is studying Physics and Philosophy. During our simulation, he got elected to be the faction leader of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL). He did his job with a lot of enthusiasm. First day, he addressed the comrades in English and German (Genossen). Throughout the week, he spoke French (camerades), Spanish (camaradas), Italian (compagnos) and on Friday even Czech: He expressed his wish to leave the faction to become the first male member of the Feminists Party. It turned out to be a translation “mistake” by the faction leader from the Socialists Ondřej that offered his help with the text.
- One MEP from the EFDD proposed to delay the Banking Union negotiations by 15 years to rethink the whole idea. Very clever strategy. That’s trolling as its best, but the Parliament reacted professionally and did not address the proposal at all.
- The voting system was a highlight. Not only crashed the system once for no obvious reason and needed to be restarted (probably hacked from remote), I could also tinker a bit with the system. Of course, only for academic purposes1! I admit that I pressed the voting button of the seat next to me that was free. That’s something only MEPs at the far-left or -right can do. When the result was presented, I raised a question to ask why there would have been one more vote this time. Everyone was confused as this was not the case. I didn’t understand first, but realised then that I had just voted for someone else. Nice. The vote we had only a moment later, I did the same and this time, someone else was asking why there was actually one vote more in the ballot. It’s like I would have predicted what would happen. Nobody found this weird. We just repeated the election and this time I voted only for me, so we could go on. The irregularity is actually easy to resolve as the voting behavior of every seat is printed out for every voting. However, no one knew this at this time. I consider this as an experiment that shows that the average MEU deputy doesn’t really care for the vote and doesn’t question the accurancy.
Instrumental Version from Wikipedia (en)
Faction leader Niko could not stand the “desperate capitalist talks” anymore during the Banking Union hearings and started playing the Internationale by holding his phone close to his microphone.
The strong co-operation of the Ministers of Ireland and UK in the Council led to rumours on unification negotiations. A unification would have the interesting side effect that according to the Lisbon treaty the new country wouldn’t be part of the EU anymore without further ado. Problem solved! (Tory’s perspective)
The chair had to ask the MEPs to remember their original identity as a MEP from the Left (Niko again) has “accidentally” changed name badge and seat with a Liberals MEP. Happens!
The right wing factions (ECR and EFDD) found new ways to demonstrate their disagreement towards the banking union. They filed a blue card2 and proposed to accumulate the left-over speaking time and time for response for a minute of silence during the hearing to give honour to the now soon-failing EU.
- Amendments passed the Council/Parliament that were missing some crucial words effectively negating the whole idea. This was noted the last plenary session day (Friday) and could fixed only by some generous exceptions to the official procedure granted by the chair.
Display of voting terminal in our conference room. Photo by Marie
The vote to the close-the-debate motion during the hearing just before the final vote on the Banking Union was a tie (38 - 38).
The Data Protection Regulation passed the Parliament with a save majority. Some MEPs from the right and left disagreed and some refused even to use their voting terminals at all even though the voting terminals comprise dedicated “abstain” buttons.
The Council accepted by vote the Data Protection Regulation with not even 1% votes3 more than necessary.
- The Feminists party proposed a 50% gender quorum for the European Central Bank boards. The ECR (my faction) was proposing another amendment with a 30% gender quorum (real conservatives politics!). Other voices have been raised that support to hire board members on competence rather than gender. Another MEP pointed out that 50% is not realisable in a board with an odd number of members as intended. I pointed out that the rule is discriminating inter-sexual candidates. The debate continued after the hearing during the coffee break (informal debate ).
I had a lot of fun during the week. If you have not participated yet in such a simulation, I can only encourage you. Do not hesitate. You will get to known many interesting people as well. I’m confident that I will meet my fellow MEPs again. Yannick is visiting me tomorrow. I will be part of the volunteers team for the next years edition as a so called BETA Information Technology Officer. Pretty sure I won’t be the only one.