Mr. Rémi Carton is a 24 years old Francilien (that's how you call people who come from around Paris but not from within the city itself) with a background in History, youth, and political activism is currently serving as the Director General of the Model European Union Paris or in short MEUP.
This is a project organized by BETA France, the national branch of the BETA (Bringing Europeans Together Association) network, that count to date 12 national branches and even more partner organizations across and beyond the EU.
The main goal of BETA and it's branches is to develop and strengthen a network of MEUs, working around the same concept and exchanging their knowledge and competencies to increase the quality and visibility of their respective organizations.
In his words, it's an exercise where participants start with a blank page and have to discuss solutions and find a majority agreement over a draft resolution.
MEUs are about the European Union, which is a peculiar, organization with its politics, policies and lawmaking process. It means participants start with two real legislative proposals introduced by the European Commission. They have to debate these proposals and change them through amendments during three successive readings. It means they need to build a majority in their Chamber (the European Parliament or the Council of the European Union), but also to make sure whatever they agree on is also accepted by the other Chamber. Failure to reach a majority agreement suitable both for Parliament and Council means the proposal will be rejected. As a result, MEUs focus way more on the interinstitutional negotiations and the quality of the legislative work.
MUNs are always fun, and teach you many things about debating, negotiating, building blocks and the role and topics of international organizations. But MEUs bring a different perspective, adding the challenges of concrete lawmaking.
With regards to Brexit and its potential effects on MEUs he observes that
Brexit definitely made MEUs even more relevant as learning opportunities for young people, as it highlighted the importance of empowering them to better understand the EU. MEUs are not about making people pro-european (or even more pro-european), it is about giving people the tools and the experience to better understand and become more effective citizens, be it in their daily life, their local communities, their political or NGO involvement, or simply when they cast their vote.
The most directly felt change is that since 2016 the Commission made some more ambitious proposals, sometimes in new areas, that we can choose for our simulations; they are more ambitious, which also means they prompt more difficult negotiations.
We model the EU’s legislative process, and it has not changed following Brexit. The only direct impact may well be on our partner simulation at MEU Scotland, as they are directly concerned by Brexit and it will make their job of finding resources to organize their simulation more difficult.
If you are still reading at this point just to let you know that from here onwards the project per se will be discussed.
The simulation will be hosted at the prestigious National Assembly with the support of the vast majority of France's esteemed politicians. The location only, could one argue that gives MEU Paris a chance to have an impact, and it shows that there is an appetite to discuss and engage with other Europeans. Also, Paris has all it takes to be a great place to organise an MEU: dense public transportation, lots of potential venues, an incredible number of accommodation solutions, one of the most lively nightlife in Europe, dozens of University campuses, two airports connected to pretty much everywhere in the world, a rich cultural offer…
It was about time, to make Paris feel again, even if only for a small week, even if only for a hundred young people, like one of the beating hearts of Europe it is. And as it is still rare, going around the MEU circuit, to meet many French people, we took the bet that a homegrown conference would raise some attention and bring more of us into the world of simulations.
As the trickster I am, I had to ask about European Institutions ; are quite simple to simulate, meaning that there cannot be extreme variations from their structure and their procedures. How can creativity and challenge occur in that frame?
And he gets me speechless one more time since he mentions that the wonderful thing with the EU legislative process is that it offer a vast array of competences, and thus of proposals to debate. The European Commission makes proposals that can be debated in an MEU basically every week, and organizers across the circuit try to take the most recent and appealing ones. MEU Paris, for example, will debate a proposal on the security of gas supply dating back “only” to 2016, but also one on whistleblowers protection that was introduced no later than last April!
Beyond this variety of texts eligible for debate, there is the variety of roles. Some could say there are only two (Ministers and MEPs, although MEUP will also have some journalists and Lobbyists), but there are 28 Member States, all of them with a different agenda, and each one of the 8 political factions in the European Parliament has internal divergences that participants can really exploit to bring additional depth and surprise to the debate. An S&D MEP from Romania will not behave the same on the posting of workers than an S&D MEP from France. And an S&D MEP from Portugal will even have a different vision. On the same issue, same goes for two EPP MEPs who would be elected one in Sweden, the other one in Hungary!
For me, what increases the diversity in the simulation comes not from the variations in procedures but from how much participants will be willing to engage with the topics, highlight their differences, how effective some will be at organizing a split in their own faction, or on the other hand at negotiating large alliances. I have never seen two Council behave the same or be dominated by the same countries. I have never seen a European Parliament that was not struggling to forge a majority. And I've seen consensual proposals (on paper) be rejected when contentious ones passed almost unanimously. Politics is the domain of the unexpected, and it seems in that regard or simulations are can be more than accurate.