Uniting in diversity means bringing together in curiosity. From the 14th to the 17th of November BETA Europe brought together motivated young Europeans from all over the union and even beyond. Jointly we discussed in various workshops about current hurdles to European participation, searching to find answers to the question: What is the European Union?
MEUs are the memeing of Europe- Enjoying Europe
Suddenly, everything that is taken for granted will be gone. Imagine, the unthinkable has happened, the European Union will be dissolved, and the Internet will be shut down. What would be your last meme to a project, that ensured peace, stability, and freedom. During the last years MEUs have become a creative hotspot for the creation of Memes, commenting on the trajectories, controversies and curiosities, which make every MEU conference unique.
Memes are entertaining, but Memes are also mighty. According to the Meme theory, firstly defined by the biologist Richard Dawkins, Memes are cultural units, representing certain cultural ideas, such as for instance the idea of the federal European Union. Visible used during the US electoral campaign in 2016, it can be argued, that with Trump the US-voters had voted for a meme as president. Famously known as entertainer googling for Trump there are dozens of Memes, entertaining, raising awareness and gaining attention for certain actors or topics.
Especially in times of social media the currency of our days is attention. Short messages in form of Memes can attract the attention of the electorate. Those memes can support the democratic, politicization of digital society. Memes can be produced, Memes can be adapted, Memes can be shared, Memes can be commented, Memes can be critical, showing what is at odds. In that sense, Memes are about to evolve as new forms of expression political opinions as participation. Having a laughter can support people in feeling curious about dealing with European politics.
Europe created by the Europeans – Experience Europe
What is better to learn about European Integration than living it? Having the opportunity not just to study European politics but by actively shaping it offers unique access to European ideas. However, just sitting silent at a huge assembly has just a minor impact to the marvelous ways opened by the world of Model European Union. Therefore, it is essential to ensure, MEUs, are inviting and interactive, empowering participants to apply and widen European knowledge. Somehow Europe can be described such as bar, where people come together, getting known to each other over a drink, discussing about a wide spectrum of ideas from god and the world. Strangely, the most iconic spot at the European Parliament is a place called Mickey Mouse bar.
At the beginning, dealing with authentic legislative proposals, it is essential to define the central cleavages. Those can support participants in getting a better feeling about the context the topic at hand is embedded. After that, what is often forgotten at traditional education, is giving students the chance to show off their knowledge. Thus, the next step shall be encouraging participants to share their knowledge, contributing to the evolution of the issues. After that, it is essential to establish a relation to the daily life of the young Europeans, explaining to them, why the topic might have an impact, making it more feasible and more comprehensible. Eventually, those conclusions must be translated to the given role of a MEU, experimenting for the ideological Turing test. This test proves if one person with a certain political attitude can pretend to stand for the opposite attitude, as a liberal for conservative or vice-versa.
An ever-cooler MEU- Evolving Europe
Admittedly, often the European idea is still considered an elite project, taking place in bubbles. Admittedly, comparing the profile of participants at MEUs, often those come from the similar backgrounds, studying subjects such as political science, law, economics or European studies. Nevertheless, a true European project can only succeed, if it will be a project, that is created by everybody, independent of income and education. Therefore, MEUs should evolve from students´ projects to projects, which are open to everyone to participate. Especially, young professionals as apprentices in comparison to students face hurdles, taking days of the go abroad or even going on vacation for a MEU conference. In that sense, a new concept of MiniMEU, lasting for just one day in different cities, at schools, other institutions open to miscellaneous audience can serve as a first step entering the MEU network, experiencing European politics.
Enjoy, Experience, Evolve- Retelling the European Dream
Looking back, looking forward, looking from above, the European Union shines brightly at night. During the last seven decades this process has created an area of peace, freedom and stability. Nevertheless, taking the Brexit as a very prominent example, the question to that time seems to be: “What is the European Union?” However, maybe dealing with that question might be deadlocked, searching for a simple answer to a wrong question, For the future, the question should rather be: “What shall be the European Union?” Understanding European politics is to understand, where we as Europeans come from, but also who as Europeans we would like to be. Having been built on the debris of the second world war, the European Union has become a zone of prosperity in peace and freedom in solidarity and equality. As stated by the founding fathers of the European Union, Europe was a dream of a few, but now is needed for all of us.
MEUs show those unique chances of our time to enjoy Europe, in discovering new countries, experiencing it, by making friends from all over the European Union, as evolving it, by understanding, that Europe is never finished but something that has to be shaped by everybody.
Model European Unions might be a model of the European Union, but they are also a model for the European Union. Let´s together be united in diversity and curiosity getting known to each other, bringing Europeans together, as experiencing Europe is best to understand Europe.
Thanks to Fraser Wilson for providing the photos to this marvelous BETA Symposium