16 Sep International Session in Warsaw: The Future is Europe
“An epic, yet challenging experience that made me get out of my comfort zone, grow more academically and meet amazing people!”
The first-ever hybrid International Session (IS) of the European Youth Parliament (EYP) took place in Warsaw in early July. The 93rd IS brought together 150 participants both digitally and physically to discuss their own visions of the future of Europe.
The organising team, led by Maciej Kryński and Klara Birchley, managed this massive feat and gave all the participants an unforgettable experience. The event had all the staples of an EYP event, Team Building, Committee Work, and the General Assembly, as well as other special opportunities such as a joint workshop with the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an Opportunities Fair. Students from many leading European universities also came to present their studies and universities to the participants.
The academic team, led by Daniels Griņevičs, guided the participants in tackling a variety of relevant topics. The event itself revolved around the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe, an initiative aimed at collecting the opinion of people from all over Europe, initiated by the Parliament, Council and Commission. All of the topics of the event were in one way or another linked to the pillars of the Conference on the Future of Europe. As part of Warsaw’s academic preparation, Fabián Eiden, the Chairperson of the AFCO committee, created a podcast in collaboration with Radio Swoboda, where he interviewed both members of the academic team and external experts on the backsliding of democracy in the EU. Fabian does a deep dive in a variety of aspects of the topic, such as going into the legal system of the EU and how it works with a Vice President of the event, and asks Stanley Bill, a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, how to get out of the crisis in democracy.
“I have never met so many people with different nationalities, stories and backgrounds. This has given all our discussions more perspectives and now I better understand why member states can not agree on certain topics because their situations are so diverse.”
Committee work was not the only avenue participants had to share their opinions on the Future of Europe. The event included a panel debate where participants could ask questions to several panellists which included Adam Bodnar, former Ombudsman of Poland, Tobias Schumacher, Chairholder of the European Neighbourhood Policy Chair at the College of Europe, and Pamola Cuchi, the World Health Organisations’ representative to Poland. During this debate, the participants and the panellists discussed everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to the importance of the rule of law.
The opening ceremony included a message from the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, who commended the participants for their work and encouraged them to work hard to make their vision for the Future of Europe come true. There were also messages from the Mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski and MEPs Danuta Hübner and Jerzy Buzek. Finally, during Committee Work many of the committees had a chance to exchange ideas with experts in the field that they were discussing, including prominent individuals from the International Labour Organisation, the European Environment Agency.
The hard work of the participants culminated in the resolution booklet, where the days of brainstorming, cooperating and discussing ideas came together as proposals that outline the way they see the future of Europe, and want to see it change for the better. Their ideas were passed on to the important guests and experts at the session and will be taken along in the process of the “Young Opinions on the Future of Europe” project, where their ideas along with those of other young people will be collected and discussed with important figures at a European level. Some participants of Warsaw 2021 will be a part of the group that will drive this project forward.
There were several partners that were crucial in making this event a reality including Sparkasse, the European Savings and Retail Banking Group, Stiftung Mercator, E.ON Stiftung, the Visegrad Fund, The College of Europe, the Central European Initiative, NATO, and McDonald’s.
Last but not least the media team, led by Stefan Hadžović and Kaja Silva Aulik, did a wonderful job recording the goings-on at the session. Much of the event itself was held on the College of Europe campus in Natolin, which the media team brought to life in a short video welcoming participants to the session. And of course, there is the lovely session video which touches upon both the struggles of organising an event at the heights of Covid, a look inside the minds of the session leadership, and behind the scenes at the event itself. Finally, they shed light on some of the participants of the session who are active citizens outside of EYP and why and how they do it. All of this and everything else can be found on the session Facebook Page.
The International Session in Warsaw was a big success. It overcame adversity to take place at all and created a safe and nurturing environment for all its participants. It created a platform for young people from all across Europe to have their say on the Future of Europe and was an unforgettable experience for the participants.
You can find the resolution booklet of the Session here.