The Sunny Days are Over

opening

Photo: Michael Mayrhofer

This is the third edition of Model European Union in Vienna. About 100 young people from 24 countries are engaged in the simulation for three days – this, of course, requires a lot of organisation. For many participants this is the first time at MEU and as the opening ceremony showed, there are still a lot of questions. In a mock debate the ministers and MEPs got to know the rules of procedure and their fellow faction members. And already the European People’s Party tested their limits and left behind some very surprised journalists: The EPP suggested to make Pope Francis the Emperor of the “dEUth Star”, implemented in order to protect all EU interests against “any intrusion from any other country or planet”.

#MEUVienna delegates are learning by doing – with a jump into the cold water. Arriving directly from Brussels, the Austrian MEPs Angelika Mlinar, Michel Reimon and Josef Weidenholzer tried to give the participants an insight of what they are actually doing. In a panel they shared their thoughts, opinions and fears concerning the refugee crisis – currently, the most challenging problem for the European Union. And on one point the representatives from ALDE, S&D and EFA all agreed on: Dublin III was a regulation for the sunny days.

While the Border States – like Italy, Greece and Spain – were confronted with the refugee crisis years ago, the Northern and Centre European countries were hit by it very recently. Dublin was implemented many years ago. But from the beginning it only worked for some countries. “Dublin always was a compromise”, said Weidenholzer. Also, in his opinion the political path that Austria is following right now leads in the complete wrong direction. “National borders don’t solve a thing. Refugees will continue to come”, Weidenholzer added.

To find a common solution in Europe is crucial, but at the moment “we are asking if we really want to work together”, Reimon said. To him this is not only a refugee crisis but also a much bigger problem. “I think we have a European crisis, an institutional crisis.” The situation Europe is facing right now will not go away on its’ own. In order to solve the problem governments have to give up a lot of their national power, he stated. “Also if Europe wants to be economically successful, Europe has to accept that this attracts people. Money attracts people. It’s as simple as that.”

Instead, what we are observing right now is insecurity. “In politics, optimism is a moral obligation”, Mlinar reminded. “Politicians have to take the lead. Otherwise, how will society know what to do and think? We have to give a good example. To run behind polls is bad politics.” These are inspiring words at a very difficult time – especially for young people.

All in all the discussion gave food of thought for the debates in the parliament and council of Model European Union – an experience, that will enrich the participant’s interest in European politics further.

by Daniela Prugger

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