The European Youth Parliament organises more than 200 events every year. Though differing in duration, the number of participants and represented countries as well as thematic focus, the sessions follow a similar pattern.
The basic idea of a session is that the delegates come together in multi-national committees, each committee looking at a different topic. Having taken part in team building exercises, the delegates participate in committee work, producing a resolution on their topic which is then debated in General Assembly. This summary is, however, a great simplification and cannot begin to do justice to the experience of a session – browsing through this section of the website, you can get a greater insight into how it all works.
Each session, though with its own unique character, is largely based on some core elements, which are detailed below. In all they help with the session´s goal of giving the participants the opportunity to think about the challenges facing Europe as well as the chance to get to know each other and each other´s cultures better.
On the first weekend of an EYP session, between twelve and twenty students from all over Europe get together in a committee. These people who come from very different backgrounds and who have never met before, need by the end of the week to be functioning as a close-knit team pulling together and respecting each other.
And it is this task that is the aim of the Teambuilding. Under the direction of experienced team-builders, in conjunction with the committee Chair, the delegates in committees engage in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, some physical, others creative, yet others more problem solving, but all of them fun, and all of them designed to get this disparate group of people working as a team.
The culmination of the teambuilding is the teambuilding presentations, a sketch which every committee has to put together to show to the other delegates, so bringing everyone back together at the end of the weekend, and giving the delegates a last fun creative team exercise before the serious business of Committee Work begins.
This is perhaps the central part of any session. The delegates of the committee come together, now working well as a team after the teambuilding weekend, and they sit down to discuss their particular topic. Their goal is to write a resolution on this topic on which they can all agree. This is no easy task. They come from very different perspectives, and will almost certainly have to reach compromises if they are to find agreement within the time required.
To help them in this, each committee has an experienced Chair, an older EYP alumnus, who ensures that everybody´s ideas are heard and that the resolution reflects the ideas of the group – that every member of the committee can feel proud of it.
The discussion is always very heated, but the end result is that each of the delegates has learnt an incredible amount about the issue, and really thought about the implications, and has developed and redeveloped his or her own views, with a flexible approach paramount. The skills they learn here, in discussing, debating, persuading and negotiating, will stand them in good stead for the future.
The General Assembly reunites all the participants of the session, to consider the results of committee work. Each committee presents and defends their motion for resolution, which is then debated for approximately 40 minutes by the Assembly. Thus delegates have to be familiar not only with their own topic but also to some extent with all the resolutions.
At the end of each debate there is a vote – based solely on the personal concscience of each delegate. Those resolutions which are passed are subsequently presented to the European Parliament and National Governments, and other such bodies. While it is true that the European Parliament has gone on to discuss issues brought up by EYP resolutions, the main aim of EYP is not so much to exert political influence as to provide an educational experience for the individual participants.