Today I woke up to some very lovely 63-degree weather outside (a full 30 degrees cooler from last week) and had some spare time before our first and only group task of the day at 2 pm. Some other classmates and I utilized this time to begin preparing for our EU-US debate in a week, so [like most people do early on a Sunday morning] I brushed up on my Russian foreign security policy. After this invigorating morning, we rushed over to the Parlamentarium for our simulation on the EU legislative process.
Upon our arrival, we were handed mobile phones and assigned one of 4 political parties: Tradition, Solidarity, Liberty, or Ecology. (Yours truly was a member of Solidarity.) No single party had a majority in the Parliament, so we would have to work together to get any legislation passed.
We watched a short introduction on the EU Parliament which reviewed some basic procedures with which we were already familiar. There were 2 directives that needed to be passed: one on water solidarity and one on personal identification. The first addressed the scarcity of fresh water and its unbalanced distribution in the EU, while the second addressed a microchip that could be implanted into people to help with easier identification. Within our parties, we further split up into groups of those addressing the water issue and those addressing the microchip. As I was an MEP working on the microchip issue, I’ll be able to provide more details on that compared to the other directive.
We learned about our parties’ manifestos and what stance we would have to take on these issues. Whenever notified by our phones, we would move locations into conference rooms, press rooms, information sites, and even a bar. Some main debate points for the personal identification directive where if the decision should be made by the state or the individuals, if it should be used for health/ security/ commercial purposes, and if everybody or only adults should be allowed to get it. A main concern was that if the chip could be used for commercial purposes, companies could abuse peoples’ personal rights by accessing unwanted information. After numerous press conferences and debates, we were informed that the Council didn’t agree with our proposed amendments, so there would be second readings.
But then ~disaster struck~ in the form of a major earthquake in Europe (how unlikely is that??). The disaster just happened to affect water infrastructure that was over 100 years old and took place while school was in session, so kids had to be quickly identified. With this knowledge in mind, more negotiating took place and we were able to reach an agreement with the Council on the water directive and got that passed (woohoo!). Despite that success, we were still unable to reach a compromise on the microchip directive, so that led to a last chance meeting to prevent further rejection. Amidst the yelling and passionate persuading, people held true to their parties’ values while finding points on which to compromise. In the end, the Council proposed that individuals would get to decide, it could be used for health and security and commercial purposes, and anyone over 18 could get it OR children with parents’ consent. Luckily this was adopted, and that brought an end to our time as MEPs.
We received a lovely and very official certificate for “not destroying Europe,” and on that happy note, we parted ways for the day. Overall I had a very fun (and intense) experience with this simulation, more so than I was expecting. Even though it was only for a couple hours and the scenarios were made up, this gave me a taste of how stressful and frustrating it must be to work as an MEP when you can’t reach a compromise. I think I have gained a better understanding of the legislative process in the EU, and I certainly consider myself an expert on microchipping at this point. I look forward to framing my certificate as soon as I get home and getting some rest after my rather taxing experience as an MEP.