Once I stumbled over wise quote, saying, that Europe won´t be made at once, however she will be made many small steps. However, since ever, Europe has asked herself, who she is and who she would like to be. Many years ago, MEU journey started to search for an answer.
MEU Vienna 2015: Where it all began!
What are the ingredients of a unique discovery? Those are curiosity and coincidence. Returning back as Belgian delegate from my first Model United Nation, emotions were still high, firstly being exposed to an international, diplomatic environment. Still, being overwhelmed by the experience, just scrolling trough the Facebook group, I discovered a post, advertising to join the second edition of Model European Union Vienna. Curiously, I applied and was accepted.
Nevertheless, as a young MEP for S&D UK, excited but also timid about, what to expect, discussing the General Data Protection Guideline and Gender Equality. Strangely, organisers put me in the first row, being right in the centre, trying to hide in the crowd. Having had difficulties to follow the debates, nevertheless, those days I fell in love. A love that should last until today, the love for Europe, Vienna, Spritzwein and the passion to talk about all of it.
MEU Warsaw 2015: Europe gets into RAGE
Keep smiling, keep MEUing, that is what friends are for. Having met some friends for life, which are still my friends today, suddenly I was infected by a fever, the MEUfever. Therefore, we, my friends and I, decided to apply for the upcoming first edition of MEUWarsaw, firstly in my lifetime visiting Poland. Getting a train ticket, the adventure started. Arriving in Berlin at the middle of the night, we soon figured out. Berlin Nights are very long. Walking up and down from the main station to Alexanderplatz, we discovered a Berlin not many people might know
Even so the topics of GMO and Common European Sales Law, seemed quite controversial, me as GUE&NGL Italy seemed quite unimpressed. Together with my faction colleague we noticed, the EFDD and ENF were not that far, as the seating order in the Parliament might suggest. Being very emotional, we had a secret talk with our colleagues and agreed they were in rage as well. Therefore, we created RAGE, Radicals Against Generalismus Europe, uniting the extreme left and the extreme right. Convinced by our tenets suddenly the Greens and more and more MEPs followed our way, eventually ousting the president to join our glorious new faction. Starting as a small faction of two people, eventually RAGE become the biggest competitor of the EPP, contesting everything, the MEUworld had known until then. At the end, we were happy, having reached what we as RAGE had wanted: nothing apart from huge emotions.
MEU Vienna 2016: We came for the weed
Starting a new year, it was obvious where to go from Poland, right back to Vienna. Returning as MEP for ECR Poland, the priorities seemed quite obvious, defending smokers right, being right on migration. Debates started to evolve slowly, nevertheless, being familiar and at home, very soon, I started to speak up, speaking in Swedish with my fellow colleagues from the MEP. As our faction was quite committed to make a stance, we often held informal talks with those colleagues, how to combine two controversial topics. The protection of non-smokers and a quote to redistribute refugees within the European Union. Soon we figured out, to have a common ground on sharing weed and refugees. Therefore, we managed to get a deal, that some might take as a lesson for life. ECR agreed to permit marihuana meanwhile, Greens agreed, that the quota for refugees should be changed, that Poland takes one refugee per million to come. Luckily, the second proposal was approved first, that Poland could reject legalisation of marihuana. The moral of the story: Never trust a deal, that is waged without a Spritzwein.
MEU Mainz 2016: Time to shine at the Rhine
Having a month of vacation did not mean to stop, but to enjoy the beauties of Rhine. Especially, representing the Grand Republique de la France was more than an invitation to come back. Even so the topics were quite contemporary debating PNR and refugee quotas, soon we figured out, everything is about knowing the secrets of liquid democracy. Having enjoyed the first evening over a wine tasting, firstly, debates seemed to run smoothly, nevertheless soon positions got stuck. Many member states were leaving the council, totally opposing the proposal to take refugees. At the end, especially Germany and France had to set up an alliance, explaining why the situation in the parliament escalated that far. Eventually, facing the many different opinions of factions and member states, both proposals were rejected, that nothing was approved at the end. However, this was one valuable conclusion, saying, that MEU is showing, what Europe can and especially what it can´t do. Europe is an ever-evolving project.
MEU Vienna 2017: Leave to come back!
Another year began in times, when some decided to leave, I took the decision to come back. Returning as Nigel Farage from the EFDD UK, the topics of fighting tax evasion and ensuring reliable energy provision. Obviously, this conference promised lots of energy, as it was outlined in the position paper, still used as role model for future MEPs. Admittedly, many were asking, what should be my job, as UK had decided to leave, yet the answer was simple. It is not about the European Union to make Britain great again, as we are already Great Britain. Having enjoyed some delicious Austrian wines during the press conference, eventually, it became quite obvious. MEUS are huge waste of taxpayers´ money, but they are the best waste in the world.
MEU Mainz 2017: A special fever to spread
On the search for some wine and good discussions, obviously the way led back to Mainz. Representing the Greens Netherlands over combating terrorism and setting new trade agreements, soon we had found our strongest competitor, who should be haunting us, coming from Vienna, to catch up, where I had left. Probably, climate change might be a tedious topic for some people, yet, facing up to 40 degrees in the plenary led to very heated debates. Watching around in sweats and tears, out of EFDD came the question, how to support something as climate change, that would not exist. The response was quite simply: “Can that sweating face lie?”. Eventually, a motion to put the honourable MEP into quarantine for suffering from Dengue Fever was only rejected by a thin majority. Nevertheless, here a “catch me if you can” started, that should cover Estonia, Austria, Italy, France and Scotland.
MEU Tallinn 2017: The memecommissioner comes to life
Eventually, having waited for so long, the nomination as commissioner for reached me, even so it was a call to the high north. Curious as many before me, I boarded a plane and arrived at the airport of Tallinn in Estonia. Having mastered some languages, however Estonian seemed to come from a different world, even so discovering a Bavarian restaurant, serving as German embassy. The first thing we learned about Estonia was, that everyone who wanted to invade Estonia, invaded it anyway. Suddenly one evening, the invasion started, spontaneously over a diner over the medieval town. The first meme was born. From now on, the cultural mission was clear, working as a commissioner to promote the European Way of Laugh. Of course, if must not be forgotten, that the commission had a very reliable driver during the conference.
MEU Scotland 2017: There will be fish
Watching the sun going down, getting hungry over a carp and Whiskey, there came the idea to visit Scotland, a last time before it was leaving. Representing EPP Hungary, it was quite clear, that migration should be a prime topic during the debates, yet it became very fishy. Obviously, debating fishery policies, it seemed, that Hungary wouldn´t have much a say, yet exactly this was the point. Swiftly, EPP Hungary discovered, that Hungarian fisherman and fisherwoman didn´t have a say, were not heard enough. Therefore, from that point on, the debate was focused on that special minority. Those victories were celebrated over a Ceilidh, showing, that with United Kingdom leaving, suddenly Scotland came closer to my mind than ever before.
MEU Vienna 2018: Coming home
After so many years, MEU Vienna was less about coming back, but returning home. Representing ALDE Belgium, eventually I realized, that my doubts about my identity might have some reasons, probably being the lost son of Guy Verhofstadt. Discussing the European Trade Emission Scheme and the European Defence Fund, it manifested, that even freezing with minus 20degree, young Europeans are willing to defend the European idea. Especially, saying, having experienced MEU Vienna at least once by night, you have experienced Europe once.
MEU Milan 2018: The European Style
Remembering never having won the award as best dressed, the mission was quite clear. It was time to get to Milan to change that fact. Representing the United Kingdom, crossing the Alps in times of Europe at crossroads, the experience was a Milan with open arms close to Europe. Sharing the room with Austrian, French, Bulgarian and Italian, over a joint Aperitivo, soon at the Council a solution for all European issues was found. Joining the Netherlands, Spain and UK, we proposed to transform the European Union into the United Kingdom of Europe, Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected, yet, leaving a huge impact, that the honourable commissioner had to be comforted over a bribe box of chocolate. Discovering the dolce vita, Milan taught us, here we are Europeans, here we are supposed to be.
MEU Tallinn 2018: Don´t forget about the Arctic
Searching for some refreshment during the hot summer days, the Artic seemed an appropriate destination. Nevertheless, the commission ended up shortly before, back again in Tallinn. Experiencing up to 30 degrees and sunshine to noon at the beach were the perfect set for it. Probably at the beginning just considered as a niche, soon the topic became a core of changing geopolitical world orders. Coming up with a comprehensive European Artic policy, probably the Artic will never be forgotten again. Especially, the farewell will never be forgotten. Getting the flight cancelled, the alternative was a mini-interrail through Northern Europe. Meanwhile waiting for the flight, the commissioner saw all participants passing by, serving as farewell commissioner. Eventually, the way back led over Finland, nearly Copenhagen, Munich, ÖBB and a heavy fistfight for a taxi in Franconia, showing European freedom of travel.
MEU Paris 2018 : Europe mon amour
After some time, Europe has become more than a passion, it has been my first love. Time to set tracks to the capital of love, Paris. Working in the organizing team, unexpected, suddenly a replacement for the minister of Italy was needed. Finishing my pizza, the deal was done, heading directly to the heart of France. Spending days at the French assembly, being part of this historic building, gave a tremendous impression of what is meant to be the Grand Nation. Especially, this simulation gave an idea, why it is important to learn French, as the official language was supposed to be English, yet in France it is supposed to speak French. Returning back over a missed train to Strasbourg, the 6hour journey through south Germany will not be forgotten, discovering places no MEU participant might have visited ever before.
MEU Glasgow 2018: Memes are the memeing of MEU
Europe is like friendship. You have to take care of them to keep them alive. Facing another round of potential Brexit, this time the issue was more serious than that. There were rumours spreading, that the European Union would ban the Memes. Definitely a job for the European memecommissioner to come back to Glasgow. At the end the topic was as urgent as to even bring it to the Scottish government directly, joining a special trip to Edinburgh. Another visit of the MEU Scotland team to Germany was set as well, to discuss the impacts of Brexit.
MEU Rome 2019: All ways lead to Europe
Many ways lead through Europe as Europe is the way. At the same time, limoncello is the way to sustain life. Combining both, the way led where always led, to Rome. Already being a renowned memecommissioner, the topic of sustainability was perfect for the eternal city, where everything once began. Especially seeing a government of extreme left and extreme right gave reason for the question, what has happened to a country, that was once a founding member of the European Union. During a visit of the Italian Parliament it became quite obvious, that Italy as many other countries, seemed to have lost, what Europe was founded on. This is the braveness of together being different, together being insieme, together a model for the world. Shortly before the elections, yet this vibe was to felt again here.
MEU Glasgow 2019: From Brussels getting to Bru
Probably, looking back to years of experience in MEU this conference will forever have a special place in my heart. Directly, coming as memecommissioner from Brussels, taking the Eurostar to London to Glasgow, gave the unique feeling of finally being at the centre of Europe. Explaining the European Solidarity Corps, sharing experiences out of working at the European Parliament, all those gave goosebumps, turning a model into reality, watching the similarities between what is MEU and what is EU. Apart from that, probably, the discovery of Irn Bru, the feeling, the spirit and the holy thirst may be with you forever.
MEU Vienna 2020: From Brussel returning back to the roots
Eventually, coming directly from the hemicycle in Brussels to the plenary of Vienna, after so many simulations of Model European Union was the perfect moment to join Mr. Juncker in retiring. Enjoying a chat about the Brussels bubble over a Spritzwein, seeing many old friends from where everything started many years ago, was just the perfect moment to see, that times are changing and new generations of young committed Europeans are taking over the MEUniverse.
Thank you for the MEUs, Memes and More
What is left to be said after 17 participations at Model European Unions. Thank you for memes, thank you for the ode to joy we had. Thank you for all your great friendships, great places and people, which I was able to discover. After Brexit the question was: What is the European Union? Today, the answer lies in the question: “What should the European Union be?” Brining young people from Europe and beyond together, to experience, what Europe is all about, that is the best contribution for finding new models to the future direction of the European Union.