the MEU Tallinn team!
Model European Union (MEU) Tallinn is an international simulation of EU decision-making process organized annually by the Estonian Europe House Association and an experienced international team of around 20 volunteers. Over 80 participants from all over the EU and beyond will gather between July 22 and July 29 in Estonia’s capital to discuss a number of issues currently at hand in the EU. The overall aim of the simulation is to give young individuals a real life experience of the complex structures of the EU’s decision-making process. The participants have the opportunity to improve their academic as well as personal and debating skills, learning how to interact with others in a professional environment. The session has been an annual occurrence ever since 2011 and is currently the only MEU simulation in northern Europe. For this edition, the organizing team is composed of four Estonian, two French and one German organisers.
Aiming at enabling the participants to have as real an experience as possible, concrete proposals for discussion will be chosen among the newest and most relevant ones by March-April. MEU Tallinn hence enables the participants not only to get to know the capital of Estonia, be in the middle of the happenings during the Council Presidency, but also to put themselves in the shoes of both, the respective ministers of the Council as well as in the shoes of MEPs.
MUNPlanet: This conference offers a unique format. What characteristics make it stand out among other conferences?
We offer to our participants the possibility to play the roles of both MEP and Minister during the same simulation. During the first part of the week, they step in the shoes of Ministers. Then, they have to switch to their MEP suit. This means that sometimes, participants end up defending an amendment as a Minister during the first days of the conference and then are strongly opposed to it during the second half of the week at the plenary session, even voting against it! This unique challenge makes it even more exciting for everyone to understand the decision-making process of EU institutions.
MUNPlanet: You don’t have one, but three different topics. Could you tell us more about these? What inspired you to choose them as topics?
The topics discussed during MEU Tallinn 2017 are the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Digital Single Market and the European Defense Cooperation. As we aim at as close to a real life experience as possible, all of the topics are also on the table currently in the EU institutions. Furthermore, as we have our event right at the beginning of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU, all the topics are set as priorities for the Estonian Presidency, too. We also want to pick specific proposals within these topics that will have an impact on European citizens’ lives so that they fully seize the importance of this legislative and negotiating work.
MUNPlanet: For potential participants who can’t decide on which role to apply for, could you differentiate these for us? What would they have to do?
We already have a team of chairs and commissioners who are responsible for preparing the sessions and the topics for the participants. As for the roles, we offer the participants either to take the role as a Minister/MEP (Minister for the first half of the week and MEP during the second half) or as a Journalist.
Participants in the role of a Minister/MEP first represent an EU Member State and they have to defend their country’s interests while negotiating amendments to the proposal during the Council working sessions. During the second part of the simulation, participants embody MEPs from all current political groups. Therefore, they have to defend their political group’s interests, which might differ from the ones of the EU Member State they were representing during the first part of the week. They have to form alliances with other political groups in order to pass amendments during the plenary session.
The journalists will have the chance to write articles, take pictures and record interviews with the support of the Journalists Coordinator who will also play the role of Editor-in-Chief during the simulation. Furthermore, during press conferences, the journalists have the challenging opportunity to find key trigger points of the past discussions in the Councils/Political Groups. However, applicants should keep in mind that there are only 3 spots available for the role of Journalist whereas we have 84 spots available for the role of MEP/Minister.
We include in our programme a guided tour of Tallinn’s medieval city centre which is, indeed, a UNESCO Heritage Scenery. Therefore, our participants will get to discover all the main sights with a guide who will explain everything they need to know about Tallinn’s history –alongside a few anecdotes! From the Toompea hill with the Parliament where history has been made (this place saw the first Estonian constitution being drafted!), to the Guild’s Hall on the “Raekoja Plats”, but also the old walls defending the city centuries ago… There are plenty of sights to discover and one week might not even be enough, but we’ll try showing you as much as possible!
MUNPlanet: The year 2017 in Estonia is pretty special. For those who missed why, could you fill us in with the details?
In July 2017, Estonia will take over the rolling presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time since this country joined the EU in 2004. Meanwhile, in April 2017, the festivities celebrating the 100th birthday of the Republic of Estonia (February 24th, 2018) will start. Therefore, MEU Tallinn participants will be at the heart of Europe during one week and they will get a unique opportunity to discover Estonia during such a milestone year for this tiny but adorable country.
MUNPlanet: Eurofeast will be held at MEU Tallinn and it sounds very interesting. What exactly is Eurofeast, and what will the participants have the chance to experience?
Eurofeast is the most appreciated social event among former MEU Tallinn participants! Each participant brings specialties from their country and share it with all other participants. Of course, since many come from the same countries, they can make arrangements to cook together a national dish for this special evening, for instance. The organising team of MEU Tallinn also presents typical Estonian dishes during this evening! All in all, you get to discover around 30 countries in one evening through their national cuisine… who wouldn’t wish to be part of it?!
MUNPlanet: How can the role of technology and new communities such as MUNPlanet affect the future of student conferences?
Thanks to MUNPlanet, we are reaching out to new applicants from various countries, even outside Europe. This is absolutely great for us since we really believe in the importance of meeting international students. We are looking forward to welcoming participants from more than 35 countries!
MUNPlanet: The best marketing is done by participants after an event has finished. What is one sentence you would like your participants to describe the conference with after it ends?
Well, let’s pick a sentence that was sent to us by a former MEU Tallinn participant then: “thank you so much for this amazing experience, see you next year!”. It is truly the best compliment we could ever get to see former participants come back –as Commissioners, Chairs or even Organising Team members or participants!