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Honorable members of the Model European Parliament,

The presidency of the 53rd international Model European Parliament session welcomes everybody warmly to Austria, in the heart of Europe. As this session will take place online, the whole country will be hosting this event rather than Vienna on its own. Considering this, the country of culture and tradition, alpine landscapes and skiing invites you to this digital iMEP event!

Austria has always been a perfect place for discourse and negotiations putting herself in the service of all European countries, as it did not only with the Congress of Vienna but also during the Cold War as a neutral state between eastern and western Europe. Nowadays, it is a proud member of the European Union and the only EU member state also to host OPEC, the OSCE and one of the four UN headquarters in the world. Nuclear arms control and monitoring as performed by the IAEA is a daily challenge met here in Vienna. Thus, Austria has evolved as a natural bridge of diplomacy between Europe and all other parts of the world in tackling global crises.

Last year, MEP-Austria took the lead in digitizing our international MEP session as we couldn’t travel due to the Covid-19 imposed lock-down restrictions. Our concept of combining several teleconferencing software solutions and adapting our formal MEP procedures to this new reality helped us to take the next step and become independent from physical meetings and their limitations. In the same way, as the European Parliament adapted to this new situation, we, the Model European Parliament, managed to adapt as well. In the meantime, several national MEP sessions have been done purely digitally and now we are already holding our second international digital iMEP.

Despite this session being online, the fundamental MEP purpose remains: it is a unique opportunity for all participants to discuss EU key topics. Today’s youth form the governments and countries of tomorrow. Therefore, it is crucial to deal with the top political issues we face today and develop the mastery of a fair compromise through negotiation to ensure cooperative yet fruitful discussions. Hence, MEP enables the experience of what free speech combined with multiculturalism can look like, both aspects that are not self-evident in politics today.

Some of the difficulties the European Union faces today put the purpose of it to the test: delegates will put forward resolutions on subjects such as the industrial revolution 4.0, TTIP negotiations with the USA, the European enlargement policy for the Western Balkans and a strategic partnership with Africa. Keeping in mind that the EU does not only solve existing problems but also takes measure in order to prevent them, some committees concern long-term objectives as well.

History has taught us that new innovative political, economic and social ideas have always emerged during a crisis. We are now living through such a crisis and it is our generation that is strongly affected by it. Europe must again reinvent itself to emerge from this pandemic stronger than it has before. The Model European Parliament, the platform where young Europeans can live the values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights, is the perfect medium to lead the European spirit of innovation. Keeping in mind our European roots and humanist values, our generation now has the chance to plan and shape the future of a new Europe.

We look forward to welcoming you to Austria, in person as of 2022. Do make use of the VisitAustriaVoucher, be our guest and feel free to explore our beautiful country and what Austria has to offer. For now, it will be upon us to best represent and present Austria, making this MEP as enriching and thrilling as possible!

On behalf of the presidency,

Philipp Markopulos, Alexander Unger, Fiona Schindl, Lucas Wernig and Clara Gessler

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        with kind support of IV Vienna

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