Two UNYPers among European leaders

young european council

In October Brussels, the nest of many international and European communities, hosted two University of New York in Prague (UNYP) students, Jakub Malhocký and Daniel Frídel, for the 4th annual Young European Council (YEC). Both students are majoring in the International & Economic Relations program. UNYP takes pride in students’ extracurricular scholarship-related activities thus Jakub and Daniel were both provided with support and assistance from the University to make the most out of their experience. The following is their account of the event:

Organised by the student-run non-profit NGO Young European Leadership (YEL), YEC is an international conference which summons young people, students and professionals alike, who are passionate about the future of the European Union and determined to have an impact on today’s policies and decision making. Unlike regular MUN conferences, YEC is not a simulation game. Each year, approximately 100 delegates from across the EU gather in Brussels to discuss their views and propose their own ideas on a wide range of European affairs. The reform proposals which the delegates agree on during the negotiations are later presented and discussed with senior policymakers and other influential stakeholders in the EU circles. YEC 2017 was traditionally held in the premises of the European Parliament, under the Patronage of the President of the European Parliament, Mr. Antonio Tajani, as well as under the Auspices of the Estonian Presidency to the Council of the EU.

Having participated as a delegate in YEC 2016, Jakub was a member of the organizing staff this year. As Council Manager, he was in charge of the Labour Market Affairs Council; interviewing and selecting applicants, coaching delegates, and administering the Council overall. Daniel was consequently recruited by Jakub to represent Czech youth in the Home Affairs Council where he worked on migration, internal security, and European governance.

Taking part in the YEC not only brings about extensive negotiating experience, exciting social opportunities, but also inevitably bears a considerable amount of workload. For Jakub, this meant an everyday contribution to the organizational tasks, while Daniel started working on his reform proposal two months prior to arriving in Brussels. During this period, Daniel’s working group worked relentlessly on a proposal to transform the already existing European Asylum Support Office (EASO) into a fully-fledged agency. The agreed outcome of which was that the agency would assume full competency over the asylum process, harmonizing and standardizing the system of reallocation, inter alia, not contingent upon the Member States’ cooperation. Each of the proposals, deliberatively constructed with the helping hand of special advisors, experts and/or stakeholders in the given fields, were later compiled in a Final Communique. Meanwhile, Jakub’s job was to guide his Council’s delegates throughout pre-conference preparation, to organize meetings with the special advisors (e.g. with an economic advisor to two former presidents of the EU Commission, Mr. Andre Sapir), and to address any concerns, inquiries, or requests the delegates may have had.

In addition to the heated debates within the Council, enriching discussions with numerous fascinating and influential people, and work on the creation of the final proposal, Daniel, Jakub and two other members of the Czech delegation were invited for an audience with Ms. Sehnalová, a member of the European Parliament. Ms. Sehnalová and her Socialists & Democrats faction provided the Czech delegation with a generous scholarship. Moreover, all the Czechs were subsequently invited to attend a plenary session of the S&D, the largest faction in the European Parliament. In Daniel’s words, “It was a thrilling experience, observing the MEPs expressing their voices in order to defend the interest of their nation while making it compatible with the aspiration for strong European security.”

Both of our students enjoyed themselves and said that the experience was of great value for their academic and professional development. “Judging from the feedback we obtained from the delegates, I must say that the conference was a great success,” Jakub says. “We enjoyed multiple social events taking place every evening of the week during which we had the possibility to meet and interact with many people who have their say in the way EU policy is shaped.”

“We were very grateful for this opportunity. It enriched us with deeper knowledge about specific EU policies and how the Union operates, as well as with many new contacts being established. We would like to thank UNYP for making this experience possible for us!” Daniel and Jakub conclude with one voice.

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