An Englishman, an Italian and a German walk into a room. Sounds like the start of a bad joke; doesn’t it? Well actually this is the entire concept of the European Youth Parliament (EYP): bringing people of all different nations together within Europe to discuss European issues. Through cheap flights and the internet all the countries in Europe are closer together in distance and communication but ideologically increasingly further apart.
From 14th to the 18th February I attended the first national session of the Danish EYP in Odense, Denmark as a delegate representing the United Kingdom. In an ironic fashion even after we leave the EU the UK will continue to be part of the EYP, thus ensuring that young people can still easily meet and discuss issues that will affect them on a European level.
Before I talk about the session first I will tell you a little bit about Denmark. Denmark is known mainly for being the origin of Lego and quite expensive. Both are true. The currency in Denmark is the Danish Kroner (DKK) and at the time of writing you get around 7.75 Kroner to the pound (at least at Heathrow rip off rates) meaning that a Big Mac meal costs, and I know this exactly, 62 Kroner and therefore £8. The trains are both efficient and on time with huge roomy seats that will make you think you have accidentally strayed into first class. Denmark is accessible easily by air to either Billund or Copenhagen and both are well connected either directly via Train or Bus. The national language is Danish and it is incredibly difficult to learn or understand for newcomers as pronunciation and spelling differ majorly. Luckily most Danes speak fantastic English (in-fact their upper secondary school qualification which all students learn is better than our A-Level language qualifications). Many also speak German. Denmark is part of the EU (so for now at least) no visa is required for UK citizens. Danish food is nothing special and you will pay quite a lot for the privilege.
DSB (the Danish state railway) is both timely, comfortable, efficient and expensive
Arriving on the 14th I managed to get the bus but ended up walking to the wrong venue so immediately I was off to a great start. I ended up having to call for help from the session organiser who sent one of the organisers to pick me up, and after buying literally every camping roll in Odense I was dropped off at the main venue and spent the rest of the afternoon chilling and doing Mrs. Stone’s Stats homework. (For future reference this cannot be completed in the time of both an international flight and a train journey – pictures to illustrate).
Mrs. Stone’s Statistics Homework goes international
On the 15th we completed teambuilding activities to get to know each other on the scheme better; these activities included navigating a room with obstacles blindfolded without the use of our voices. That night each country had to bring food representative of the UK. I had forgotten so offered crisps and gum (bought in Denmark) and Adele from my phone.
Representing the United Kingdom abroad
One of the key tenets of EYP seems to be sleep exhaustion, people tend to work until very late, talk for a few hours and then wake up early. EYP is exhausting but ultimately eye-opening and fun. The 16th was the day where we completed our committee work. Working in our team we had to draft a resolution dealing with EU reform (other topics included Abortion, Mental Health and Cyberbullying) which we would then defend the next day. So, on the last actual day of the session on the 17th we took part in the general assembly. This is where the actual debating takes place, each team defends their own motion and then attacks, suggests improvements and requests clarification on other motions. There is then a vote where people decide whether to pass your resolution, although this doesn’t affect your result it is still a good feeling to pass your resolution.
Although the main point of EYP is to discuss European issues, I don’t think this is actually the most important thing it is responsible for. During the days that I spent there I have made new friends with and talked to people from all over Europe. The EYP is an amazing opportunity for young people and anyone who gets the chance to compete absolutely should. The only language of the EYP is English so there is no excuse for not taking part. Fostering understanding through international competitions like this is incredibly important in today’s divided world.
The delegates, organisers and chairpeople of the 1st ever EYP national session in Denmark
The European Youth Parliament (EYP) is an opportunity available to Year 12 students as part of the enrichment program in The Willink Sixth Form.
-Henry Wright, year 13