At 9 o’clock this morning, the official opening of the second Western European Model European Parliament took place. The first speaker was Paul Van Turenhout, the main organizer of the whole session. In his speech he stressed the problems the EU faces today, like terrorism, the refugee crisis, unemployment, Euroscepticism and climate change. He also underlined the importance of getting to know each other and socializing with other people than your fellow delegates. Afterwards Emma Hanegraef, head of presidency, spoke to the participants. She ended her speech in spectacular fashion by declaring the 2nd WEMEP session officially opened. After Emma, Frank Boogaerts, the mayor of Lier, talked about the importance of young people in the European Union because young people can make the difference. He ended his speech with the remarkable words: ‘Keep fighting the good fight!’ Then Raphaël Lepot, EU lobbyist for the Dutch province Limburg, gave his speech. He spoke about the treaty of Maastricht, which started the European Union. From that day, every citizen of Europe was an European citizen. To maintain that feeling, we have to ask ourselves the question: What is Europe going to do for us in the future? He finished his speech with the words: ‘Discover Europe, the floor is yours!’ The last guest speaker, Peter Nauwelaerts, stressed the importance of connecting and building a network. He also spoke about MEP and later careers. When people congratulate him with starting his professional career, he would tell them that his professional career had already started 8 years ago, when he was participating in MEP. Therefore he ended his speech with the words: ‘Your professional career starts today!’
After that, it was time for the heads of the delegations to speak to the participants. Some of the most memorable quotes included:
- ‘The European Union may not collapse, because it’s a Union of peace and human rights’ – Belgium
- ‘Above all problems, Europe is a place of democracy, where people have the possibility and opportunity to dream’ – France
- ‘As Winston Churchill once said: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, but courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” ’– the United Kingdom
Between the speeches of the heads of the delegations, there was a musical intermezzo and the delegates also sung for Mr. Van Turenhout, because it’s his birthday today. When the opening ceremony ended, the delegates went with their committee presidents to the locations, where they are going to start the committee meetings.