HERE WE GO! Regional Conference of EYP Belgium
editorial word the session’s city: Namur the session’s concept the session’s theme: Inclusion the session’s vision Migrant Crisis - The EU and Belgium The European Union Who to call upon? The agony of rejection Infographics JURI LIBE I LIBE II LIBE III REGI TERR Brought to you by Supported by
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editorial word Dear fresh EYP drifters! I am currently sitting in a lonely, cold corner at the airport in Venice and am slowly feeling that it is becoming real. This is it, here we go! In a day or two, Namur - Regional Conference of EYP Belgium is about to kick off. When writing the application to become the Editor of this session, I was asked to present a vision for the Media Team. And you are probably wondering, what on this planet does the Media Team do at a European Youth Parliament event? To sum it up, we are the people that will be walking behind you and ‘stalking’ your faces and actions throughout the session. Yes, that is what a lot of people think about the work of the Media Team. I will not try to put effort in breaking the stereotype I just mentioned, but I will let you decide after the Regional Conference Namur is finished. If we break the stereotype, I will know that we have accomplished our main goal and did our job correctly. So, I am very proud that the Media Team of Namur ‘18 has achieved its first uphill goal on this adventurous journey. With the help of my lovely Editorial Assistant Charlotte and Journalists Marthe, William and Chiara, we have created the first issue of this session, for you. Yours truly, Gašper Cvetič (SI) Editor
the session’s city: Namur The reasons why Miguel and I chose to hold our session in Namur are plentiful. Namur is both the geographical and political centre of the Wallonian region, it is also a historically fascinating city, and overall, a pretty little town nestled in the valley of two peaceful rivers. However, there is also a more personal reason which drew me to Namur for this session: Namur and its surroundings are where my roots lie. My grandmother was born in a small village near Namur, and has lived there ever since; my great-grandfather held an insurance company in Namur, and so does my genealogy continue on, never leaving the region; never, until my mother who with her diploma in hand fled to the big city. I was raised in Brussels and enjoy it a lot, but there is something about Namur that makes me feel at home.
Perhaps it is the way they speak. The “Namurois” accent emerged from the language spoken in the region before French was imposed by Napoleon in the early 19th century: Walloon. Walloon, like many aboriginal languages around the globe it is now a foreign language to most, only spoken by elders and a few passionates,but it pervades in the city’s accent, where vowels are prolonged and consonants cut short, creating a slow spoken conversational style. Compared to the sometimes harsh Brussels way of speaking, it makes me feel secure and at home.
Perhaps it is the way they act. The way people speak in Namur seems to have translated to their actions over the ages -or vice-versa. The Namurois take it very slow, and are often mocked for it by exasperated city-goers after they waited for an absurd amount of time in the line of a grocery store because the cashier and a client were catching up on each otherâ€™s lives, those of their children and, when possible, of their grandchildren. The locals do not care about these mockeries and even own up to it: on the place dâ€™Armes, in the very heart of the city is a set of statues representing two men and two snails, one leashed and the other in a cage.
They tell the humorous story of two old men, representing Namur, who had to look over snails and attached them in fear that if they escaped, the snails would win in a race against the men. This, almost mockingly, portrays the slowness of action experienced in the city. I personally enjoy this way of life, never rushed and never stressed. Perhaps it is just the way they live. Namur is home to 110,000 souls, and yet feels like a tight-knit community; a town that has kept the charm of the olden days when you could speak to your neighbour, or smile to passer-bys without getting weird looks; a city whose heart will always be protected by the stately ramparts of its citadel. A place I call home. Neil Faber (BE), Head Organiser
the session’s concept We first had the idea of Head Creating the team, finding a common Organising the Namur Regionals vision, coordinating each step and when we were both organisers in shaping the session through its Bruges 2018, in March. Belgian revenues, its participants and its gional sessions are a relatively new schedule is what we’ve been trying project, and we thought that being to do as best as we can, and the final the shapers of this session could result is getting excitingly close. be a step forward in our EYP careers. We decided to give Namur 2018 the theme of “inclusion” which is purWe’ve been working on it since the posefully a very broad word. end of April. It’s been challenging, It refers of course to the inclusion of and also rewarding for both of us. It minorities in society, but in this case is the first time we have been part of it is also the inclusion of “Wallonia”, the leadership of a session, thus we the French speaking region of have learned a lot, understanding Belgium, in the EYP organisation, more about the overall building pro- since Namur 2018 is the first EYP cess that is behind every EYP session.session held in that region. This theme is omnipresent in the academic aspect of the session, through the choice of topics from the chairs and the session board. We also want every participant to feel included, and part of a supportive group. We can’t wait to see the outcome of everyone’s work, and we believe that this 2nd Regional session of EYP Belgium will be special. Miguel Birstoff (BE), Head Organiser
the sessionâ€™s theme: Inclusion [Inclusion]: the act of including or the state of being included. Antonym: exclusion In the era of walls, divisions, borders, distance, fear, oppression, political polarisation, isolation and many more, one can wonder if inclusion is more present than exclusion in our world. As the theme of the session, inclusion comes with the challenging objective of pulling down all kind of exclusion and support the creation of an inclusive environment in Namur. Identifying exclusion Many forces are actively pushing away people because of their differences or because of what they stand for. Empathy being endangered by the decreasing ability to identify with others, many exclusions are getting socially accepted by the included part of the world. However the majority of signs of exclusion lie deep within socially accepted attitudes. Indeed, some might be actively pushed away, but many are simply forgotten on the side under the veil of oblivion. Building inclusion Fighting the forces of exclusion asks us to stand up for difference and tolerance. Included and excluded have to speak up and voice their beliefs. It is crucial to learn how to stretch out our hand, so others can reach it. Now it is your task, dear participants, to condemn the practice of excluding and to perform the act of including. So approach the session with an open mind and a heart wide open. Matthias Masini (CH), President
the session’s vision Dear delegates, The board of European Youth Parliament Belgium would like to sincerely welcome you to the Regional Conference in Namur. I am Jules Genbrugge and as National Coordinator/Project Manager of EYP Belgium, I assist the Head Organisers of our Regional and National conferences and oversee the organisational aspects. Since this is the first time that you’re taking part in an activity of our organistion, I believe you probably don’t know what to expect, and that’s okay. To already make you feel at ease, I will quickly try to explain what our organisation is and what we have been up to during the last years. The European Youth Parliament (EYP) is a unique educational programme which brings together young people from all over Europe, from Ireland to Armenia and from Finland to Portugal, to discuss current topics in a parliamentary setting.
As a network of independent associations, EYP is present in 40 European countries and organises hundreds of events every year. This means that you can also go abroad in the future, and visit conferences from different National Committees. Thousands of young people are active as volunteers all over Europe, making EYP a programme truly for young people, by young people. EYP Belgium, the Belgian branch of the EYP, has organised numerous conferences and trainings for youngsters since 1993. The mission of the European Youth Parliament Belgium is to inspire and empower young Europeans to become open-minded, tolerant and active citizens. The programme encourages independent thinking and initiative in young people and offers young people the chance to further develop their soft skills such as public speaking, social skills and out-of-the-box thinking.
This year, we celebrate our 25th birthday. In order to make this a special year, we tried to double down on inclusion and outreach; for the first time in the history of EYP Belgium, we are organising a conference in Wallonia: Namur 2018, and you are part of it. As board member who was in your position about three years ago, I can only encourage you to enjoy and literally go with the flow; try to get out of your comfort zone, think outside of the box and just be yourself at the same time. I promise you this could be a life-changing experience. Yours sincerely, Jules Genbrugge, National Coordinator
Migrant Crisis - The EU and Belgium by William Reynolds (IE) What is a migrant? To answer this, it is simply a person who moves from one place to another. What is a refugee? They are people with a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality or politics who have been accepted and recognised as such in their host country. What are asylum seekers? They are people who make a formal request for asylum in another country because they fear their life is at risk in their home country. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker. There is a difference between all three of these words. This terminology is important to understand; there are often misconceptions about migrants amongst the public due to their nature being misunderstood. The migrant crisis has been gripping the political landscape of the EU since 2015. It peaked in 2015, when over 1 million people including asylum seekers made their way to the EU, either escaping conflict in their country or in search of better economic prospects. Regardless of your opinion, the topic has been a bone of contention in the EU. For example, it was a notable element of the pro-Brexit narrative before the referendum. A forward-looking and comprehensive European immigration policy, based on solidarity, is a key objective for the European Union. Immigration policy is intended to establish a balanced approach to dealing with both regular and irregular immigration. However, I will be focusing specifically on Belgium’s response to the crisis. Migration and sovereignty are issues which have had an impact on the Belgian people and government. Two-thirds of 4,734 people in a poll believed there were “too many immigrants in Belgium”: an opinion shared by the country’s controversial migration minister, Theo Francken.
The minister, a member of the right-wing Flemish nationalist party, New Flemish Alliance, has suggested Europe should follow Australiaâ€™s example and only accept asylum claims via the United Nations. Francken has come under fire in the past year from the Belgian public regarding the deportation of Sudanese migrants after having made several mistakes, including failing to secure no written agreement between Belgium and Sudan regarding returns. Furthermore, according to Prime Minister Michel, no formal decision on the issue had been taken by the government. In response to this, around 8,000 people gathered to protest against him in Brussels on January 13, 2018. There were also sizeable demonstrations in recent months against clearances of makeshift migrant camps and the death of a Kurdish toddler shot dead by police as they pursued a van carrying illegal immigrants. A fuller picture of the Belgiansâ€™ outlook on migration will become clearer when Belgium holds local elections in October and federal, regional and European elections next year.
The European Union by Chiara Sacchetti (IT) “A Europe whose moral design will win the respect and acknowledgement of all humanity, and whose physical strength will be such that no person will dare to disturb it as it marches peacefully towards the future.” W. Churchill, 1946, Zurich. A bit of history: The European Union was founded on the cutting-edge ideas of customs union, federation and economic cooperation. Undoubtedly though, the foremost purpose was to “make war unthinkable and materially impossible”, especially after the ending of the Second World War and in respect of the urgency to deal with the lasting effects of such a disruptive and bloody conflict. Among the Founding Fathers which first inspired and motivated the creation of the Union, we acknowledge Konrad Adenauer, Winston Churchill, Alcide De Gasperi, Robert Schuman and many others who tirelessly worked in order to see the ambitious ideal of a peaceful and coacting Europe achieved, able to deliver stability and prosperity to its members. In 1950, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands jointly created the European Coal and Steel Community in order to control the two key goods necessary to build weapons and therefore secure international peace. The ECSC paved the way to the establishment of the European Economic Community in 1958. This was the stepping stone of today’s single market, which still embodies the crucial founding principle of the Union that is free trade. Since then, the purely economic union has evolved into a broader political organization that covers much of the continent, spanning diverse areas of influence, from energy, climate, migration and health, to research, justice, education and security. It encompasses 508 million inhabitants and 28 Member States, 19 of which decided to adopt the Euro an the official currency.
These countries are collectively acknowledged as the Eurozone. The identity and unity of Europe is symbolized by the European flag designed in 1950, which features twelve yellow stars on a blue background depicting unity, solidarity, harmony and peace, a goal that in the last seventy years the EU can proudly claim that has been achieved. Main institutions: • European Council (since 1974): It is in charge of providing political guidelines, setting common goals, incentives and priorities to further develop EU efficiency. The European Council is the strategic institution that decides the political direction while setting the EU’s common foreign & security policy. • European Commission (EC):It represents the executive power of the Union, managing and implementing EU policies and budget. On top of this, the EC proposes legislation to the Parliament and the Council of Ministers, having the exclusive Right of Initiative. It is formed by 28 Commissioners appointed by the Member States, who are responsible for one issue area each and protect the citizen’s interests on issues that could no be dealt at a national level. • European Parliament (since 1979): It is composed by 751 MEPs directly elected every five years by EU citizens, representing at an international level the EU’s 500 million inhabitants. The EP is divided into seven big fractions, and their debates’ outcomes are forwarded to the Commission, influencing the law-making process. It also shares this legislative power with the Council of Ministers • Council of Ministers: It discusses, agrees, amends and adopts legislation together with the European Parliament. Each Minister appointed by the Member States is responsible for a specific policy area. It follows the guidelines set by European Council when coordinating foreign and security policy.
WHO TO CALL UP ON? by Marthe Wedøe (NO)
It is no secret that the European Commission can be perceived as a complex institution. Simply explained, you can talk about the Commission as the executive body of the EU – meaning that it is in charge of initiating legislation. This is also why in EYP we often call upon the European Commission, as they are simply the people that often get things done. In EYP it is completely fine to call upon the Commission as a general institution, but if you want to be more specific there are several subdivisions of the institution that you could call upon. The different directorate-generals are examples of this. A directorate-general is a subdivision that is dedicated to a specific field where it has expertise, and each one is headed by a director-general. Examples of directorate generals include the Directorate-General for Trade (DG TRADE), which works with coordinating trade relations between the EU and the rest of the world. Another example is the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, which works with ensuring the EU’s security, as well as doing a lot of work within migration, mobility, protection and security funds. A lot of these directorate-generals might be very relevant to your topic at the session, and I would recommend that you check out this page to browse and find which ones might be relevant to you. It is important to keep in mind that EU usually isn’t the only actor involved. There are also a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as other international organisations. Even though some of these might be mentioned in the topic overview, it is important to keep in mind that it is impossible for the topic overview to cover everything. For a further dive into your topic you should check out the websites of organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe (which confusingly enough is not an EU institution), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). While not all of these might be relevant for your topic, it won’t hurt exploring them to see if you can discover different stances and existing measures. Further, it is also possible to explore specific countries measures on topics we will discuss during the session. Perhaps Member State has a measure that could benefit the entire EU?
The agony of rejection: why social exclusion does more than just hurt our pride. by Charlotte Crawford (UK) The thought of being ‘left out’ in a social situation is one which puts the fear of God in me, as well I’m sure it does in many others. And with good reason: our brains process such experiences in a similar way to physical suffering, meaning the ‘pain’ we feel while excluded or dealing with emotional hardship really is exactly that: pain. But if we all know and despise the anguish of being on the sidelines, why do we still inflict it on others? Be it at school, work or even with friends, we all end up on the periphery from time to time. Mean Girls’ lasting popularity can probably be partly attributed to this phenomenon as, like the classics, its relevance transcends time. As social animals we tend to form groups – or ‘cliques’ as we call them when they are perceived to be particularly close-knit or exclusive. What everyone desires is to be a part of one, but in practice we don’t all always manage and must, for whatever period of time, endure the agony of being on our own despite being surrounded by people. Inclusion in social groups has been vital to social animals and the continuation of their species for hundreds of thousands of years, if not longer. Therefore, threats to that inclusion are treated as posing a serious risk to one’s survival. Indeed, since the mechanisms for handling pain were already established at the time when social animals evolved adaptations for responding to social exclusion, alarming social situations are dealt with, in part, by the same system in the brain which processes physical pain. While we are excluded, our brains work continuously, detecting and assessing what is threatening our social interactions and how badly, then regulating the ‘pain’ we experience from it. In these situations we become highly attentive to how others might be feeling or what they might be thinking, and adopt behaviours in order to recover ourselves.
When we see such exclusion in action however, do we always try to stop it? I think not. Taking some kind of pleasure in others’ misfortune is referred to by psychologists as ‘schadenfreude,’ and, though generally regarded as morally wrong, it is an undeniable trait in human nature. That said, it is not sufficient to recognise only our pleasure and others’ misfortune as factors in schadenfreude; Aaron Ben-Zéev Ph.D., philosophy professor and former president of the University of Haifa, Israel, proposes three additional characteristics: the other person is seen to merit the misfortune; the misfortune is not serious, and we are not to blame for creating the misfortune. With regard to a person within a social group seeing someone outside of it and doing very little about it, all three can arguably be at play. If the person hasn’t made enough of an effort to be included, then the exclusion they must endure is their own fault; there is no tangible or real harm perceived to be being done, and as long as you are not actively preventing that person from being a part of the group, you needn’t feel guilty. Situations such as these prey on the low self-esteem of the members of the clique. They bring out the worst in us, counterbalancing our natural feelings of pity with pride and a selfish desire to appear socially dominant at the expense of others. Being tempted to act according to human nature might be inevitable, but, like the urge to eat a bar of dairy milk while on a no-sugar diet, we can choose to fight it. Inclusion isn’t difficult, and relieves far more pain than it costs. Compassion as well as self-interest is rooted in our biological make-up and it’s time we stopped trying to silence it.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
EDITOR GAŠPER CVETIČ (SI) EDITORIAL ASSISTANT CHARLOTTE CRAWFORD (UK) JOURNALISTS MARTHE WEDØE (NO) CHIARA SACHETTI (IT) WILLIAM REYNOLDS (IE)