JANUARY 5TH, 2014
The Swedish and part of the Polish delegations from Jamestown Community College were scheduled to embark on a journey that was said to be “the trip of a lifetime” (as corny as it may sound for some). However, due to extreme weather conditions, we were forced to rebook our flights. A certain airline of ill repute, whose name shall not be mentioned (*cough cough Delta cough*), did not want to cooperate with the group in any way. Thanks to the persistence of our swell and united group, after 5 hours on the phone with representative after representative and eventually a supervisor from this anonymous airline (*hack cough DELTA wheeze hack*), we were able to rebook our flight to Brussels, Belgium.
Finally, three days and some hours later, we arrived in the old and beautiful city of Brussels. Vintage would be a good word to describe it. As soon as we arrived in the Meininger Hotel we settled down, went for a walk around the block, exchanged our dollars for euros, and then got ready for the opening ceremony.
At the opening ceremony, the Jamestown delegation got a warm welcome from everyone, since nobody thought we would be able to make it due to the unpredictable and extreme weather back home. As the night progressed, there was a guest speaker who spoke a bit about the European Union as a whole, its main function, and why it is important and essential for the world today. Eventually, everything led to the presentation of the proposals that each ministry was going to discuss the following day, as well as supplemental agenda items (extra proposals in case a full proposal is passed before the simulation ends). It took everyone by surprise in the Swedish delegation, especially the prime minister (Rey Muniz III), when we heard that our proposal was included in the supplemental agenda items. Rey had to give a speech on the proposal! As shocking as it was for him, he was able to give a great impromptu speech on the corporate income tax. I know, TAXES! What a boring topic, right? WRONG. Somehow, this Swedish prime minister was able to keep the speech professional and eloquent, and yet was able to crack a few jokes.
So, I have talked about Brussels, opening ceremonies, European Union and such. But what is SUNY Model European Union (MEU)?
As stated on the SUNY New Paltz website, “SUNY Model EU is a project funded by the Institute of European Union Studies at SUNY (IEUSS), through the Office of Global Affairs, SUNY System Administration. Like many international simulations, students and universities represent country delegations preparing to attend a European Council Summit. Usually, these delegations are comprised of four person teams, with each student playing an actual political figure from that country’s government. These roles are generally the Head of Government (Prime Minister or President), the Foreign Minister, the country’s ambassador to the EU (COREPER II), and a Finance Minister. Larger teams can also bring an additional deputy minister for Europe or deputy Prime Minister…and EU Press Corps.”
The opening ceremony marked the beginning of the negotiations among member states and the ministries. These negotiations took place at Vesalius University in Brussels. Every ministry (prime ministers, foreign ministers/foreign affairs delegates, COREPERS, economics and finance ministers, and members of the press) had different agendas they had to cover and work on for the two days of the negotiations. As the Economics Minister of Sweden, my ministry was assigned a proposal that focused on improving the digital economy of the European Union (and each member-state, of course) as a solution to youth unemployment. It was a relatively broad and extensive topic. The first day, we passed only one out of eight resolutions. On our second and final day, we realized how much we still needed to get done and we began to make more progress. Within the first hour, we struck down two of the resolutions and amended one of them. However, towards the end, we had a bit of a conflict with the minister of Malta because he was using personal representation rather than representing his country, which put our progress on hold. But after all the ups and downs, we managed to create a successful proposal that was passed by the head of governments (prime ministers), which made all of our hard work worthwhile.
At the closing ceremony, we were all exhausted (as you can see in the picture of the Swedish PM lying down), and we reflected on our journey and what was yet to come. At the end, SUNY JCC and SUNY Fredonia got the most, in my opinion, hilarious and well-deserved award ever: the “Most Likely To Get Stuck In A Polar Vortex.” At that moment I realized that not even the extreme weather could have prevented us from having this amazing experience, an experience none of us will ever forget and that we forever will cherish.