Honorable members of the Model European Parliament,
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to welcome you to the 57th international session of the Model European Parliament.
Welcome to my home country Belgium, welcome to our capital Brussels but also to yours, as the home to almost all the EU institutions, European schools and EU organisations it is also the European capital. Believe me, there is no other place where this can be felt and experienced every day all year round.
At the same time, Belgium and Brussels are challenged more than ever trying to show to the world that it is true what is said about Europe being united in diversity. It is what makes political life, the participation in democracy and parliamentarism a life occupation for young or old in this country, covering all the tiers from local to European. Equally, understanding the European Union too is a long path of exploration and discovery one cannot start early enough. Whereas in decades the international sessions of the MEP were hosted by national parliaments and institutions, this time you are going to experience the European Parliament and its EU parliamentarians as the hosts and partners for this conference. This is what we are trying to achieve with the MEP meets MEP programme, the MEP delegates meeting the Members of the European Parliament and exchanging views on the most burning issues facing Europe and the world. Also, for the first time we are giving you the opportunity to see and learn how the three major EU bodies, the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament collaborate in the interest of all EU citizens and shape Europe’s role as a global player tackling world problems and conflicts.
Despite our differences, we will be working together as one, consensually trying to solve the problems outlined in the committee issues and making plans for the future. But believe me, that is not the only thing you will be doing this week. You will be meeting lots of new people from all over Europe, hearing stories about other countries and getting to know Belgium’s beautiful capital, Brussels, the home of chocolate, beer, waffles, the Red Devils, comics, the Smurfs, Asterix, Tin Tin, the famous cyclist Eddy Merckx, artists like Stromae and Angèle, and world-known sights like the Atomium.
Let this be the start of a new adventure, new friendships, new interests. After all, we are the next generation of future leaders.
Together with my fine team of experienced vice-presidents from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia we look forward to working with you.
Welcome all to Brussels, the heart of Europe