The basic structure of our conferences
Each of our conferences or “EYP sessions” as we call them – both in Belgium and abroad – adhere to a certain format. It is a formula where academically tackling modern European issues and socio-cultural activities form a balanced mix. Throughout the whole programme members are expected to use English instead of their native tongue.
The first part of any EYP session. The vast majority of session participants have never met before. Bearing this in mind, it’s quite evident that a session starts off by getting acquainted with each other. Delegates are divided into several committees, in which all members are strangers to one another. Each committee goes through teambuilding with the intention to create a cohesive group out of people who were brought together by chance.
Teambuilding consists of a variety of activities, often in the form of a game – with a physical, creative and/or problem-solving nature. The committee is guided through this process by a chairperson – an experienced member of the European Youth Parliament. The goal of teambuilding is breaking the ice and learning how to work as a team in a relatively short amount of time.
The committees write a resolution about an assigned topic. It is clear that this is not an easy task for a group consisting of members with different backgrounds and opinions. Accompanied by their chairperson, they endeavour to finish this task successfully by the given deadline.
During Committee Work participants learn to express their opinions, to debate them, to negotiate and to convince others of their views on a topic and to actively listen, consider and build on the ideas of others. Moreover, participants learn a lot about the subject in question and may have developed a more nuanced view on the topic throughout the discussions, together with a clear understanding of the implications that are linked to a particular decision.
During the General Assembly, the hard work of all the different committees is presented, defended and debated. Each committee presents its resolution to the other committees. For each resolution there is a plenary debate in which the other committees express their comments and raise points of debate, whilst the submitting committee tries to clarify and defend their views. In this way, each participant should not only be aware of its own subject, but should also have done enough research on the topics of other committees and their respective resolutions, which are shared with all participants the evening before the General Assembly.
Each debate ends with a voting procedure, during which each participant individually decides whether they are in favour or against the proposing committee’s resolution. The resolutions that pass are often sent to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) or officials at other European institutions. Nevertheless we remain an organisation that focuses on the educational aspect of our conferences and are not striving for political influence.
A conference always has a busy programme and requires a lot from its participants. Therefore, it is important to have a more relaxed and informal evening programme. Aside from leisure time and breaks meant for socialising, most conferences also feature activities aimed at promoting (inter)cultural exchange.
An activity that occurs at all of our conferences is the Eurovillage. During Eurovillage, each delegation sets up a table with information and food relating to a specific European country. This way, they get to know the different European countries in a pleasant, culinary way. It is a lot of fun and often accompanied by folk music, resulting in quite the party. Another example of a common evening activity at our conferences is the Euroconcert. During the Euroconcert, participants are given an opportunity to show a particular skill they have been training for, whether it is singing, playing a musical instrument, stand-up comedy, theatre, dancing, …