Resolutions Zeist 2021


An expensive shade of green: The key aim of the EU Green Deal is becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Bearing in mind the recent surge in energy prices, how can the EU assure that this rapid shift towards renewable energy does not come at the detriment of consumers and companies who might face higher energy bills as a result?

Submitted by: Anna Jansen op de Haar, Imme Bosman, Jackie Wiederspahn, Marieke de Weerd, Daniélla Izabell,  Aysha Koçtürk (Chairperson, TR)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Appreciating the goals of the European Green Deal such as:
    1. reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55%,
    2. achieving a 40% share of renewable energy in the EU’s energy mix by 2030,
  2. Deeply concerned by the sharp rise in natural gas prices of more than 450% since the beginning of the year, resulting in an increase in electricity prices by over 230%,
  3. Aware that natural gas and coal still make up 35% of the EU’s total energy production in 2019,
  4. Observing the great differences in the share of non-renewable energy sources between Member States’ energy mixes,
  5. Alarmed by the financial burden which mounting electricity prices might inflict on financially weak households, in particular on those 8% of EU citizens that already live in energy poverty,
  6. Pointing out the EU’s unpreparedness for the planned energy transition, as:
    1. 75% of EU citizens still heavily depend on heating systems fuelled by fossil fuels,
    2. many building infrastructures are unfit for a switch to renewable energy sources;

  1. Calls upon the Directorate General for Budget (DG BUDG) to provide Member States with further funding dedicated to the pursuit of the goals of the Green Deal;
  2. Encourages national primary energy producers to initiate a switch to renewable energy production while still producing non-renewables, similar to the approach of Royal Dutch Shell, with the help from the European Innovation Fund;
  3. Requests the European Commission to financially support companies producing and providing renewable energy, for instance hydroelectric energy;
  4. Encourages Member States to invest specifically in those renewable energy sources that are most suitable for the respective country’s environmental and social conditions;
  5. Calls upon Member States to:
    1. financially support low-income households’ struggling to meet electricity bills,
    2. subsidise said households when acquiring their own renewable energy source;
  6. Invites municipalities to renovate public buildings, thereby improving their energy efficiency, with the financial assistance of the European Structural and Investment Funds;
  7. Calls upon the European Commission to draft environmental requirements for newly constructed buildings;
  8. Calls upon the European Commission to subsidise the switch from heating systems powered by fossil fuels to ones based on renewable energy sources through the LIFE Programme.


Resolutions Zeist 2021


The age of cancer: February 2021 saw the release of the ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan’ by the European Commission. With cancer poised to become the EU’s leading cause of death by 2035 and with treatment and survival rates varying dramatically between Member States and societal groups, how should the EU ensure equal access to cancer treatment?

Submitted by: Mees Dijkman, Minna El-Shaikh, Floor Faber, Ciana Kokos, Willem Kribbe, Melody Rampersad, Emilia Vocke, Steven Voerknecht, Nina Tsoutsanis (Chairperson, NL)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Alarmed by reports predicting a rise of cancer incidence by over 24% by 2035,
  2. Concerned by the discrepancies regarding cancer diagnosis and survival rates that exist between:
    1. Member States,
    2. socioeconomic groups,
    3. racial groups, 
  3. Deeply concerned by the inacessibility of certain cancer treatments in some Member States due to:
    1. delays in national approvals of said treatments despite approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA),
    2. the lack of insurance coverage of said treatments,
  4. Pointing out the different levels of governmental investment in healthcare within the EU,
  5. Recognising that occupational exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens, for example in the agricultural sector, is a key driver of cancer incidences,
  6. Noting with regret the prevalence of discrimination against cancer patients by employers,
  7. Conscious of the potential threat to patient privacy posed by large data-gathering operations, such as the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Cancer;

  1. Asks Member States to implement more efficient cancer testing by regularly inviting high-risk groups, such as women with increased risk for breast cancer, to check-ups;
  2. Requests research institutes and pharmaceutical developers through the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) to have more balanced research samples, particularly regarding marginalised communities; 
  3. Calls upon the European Commission to further implement the new Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe, by implementing the EU regulation1This regulation on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) helps governments determine the value and fair market price of a medication. on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) to reduce discrepancies in pricing between Member States;
  4. Seeks the European Commission to reallocate funds from EU4Health towards improving Member States’ health systems of lower quality in regard to cancer treatment;
  5. Recommends Member States facilitate cross-border cancer treatment;
  6. Encourages all Member States to fully cover cancer treatment for its inhabitants;
  7. Suggests the Knowledge Centre on Cancer cooperate with Member States and other research facilities to centralise cancer research and information within the EU;
  8. Invites the European Commission to:
    1. allocate funds towards European research institutes,
    2. facilitate research towards the impacts of occupational exposure on cancer incidences;
  9. Requests the Knowledge Centre on Cancer create occupational exposure guidelines based on the previous research, focusing on guidelines surrounding materials and safe working conditions, like sufficient ventilation;
  10. Reminds the Member States to ensure cancer patients’ full protection against workplace discrimination;
  11. Urges the Knowledge Centre on Cancer to, together with the European Commission, strictly implement the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in their databases and the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.


Resolutions Zeist 2021


Pacta sunt servanda: According to Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, aimed at ensuring compliance with basic European values in all Member States, a breach of European law can only be determined by a unanimous vote of the EU’s heads of state and government. Given the lengthiness of the Article 7 procedure and the possibility of alliances among Member States, how can the EU enforce its basic values?

Submitted by: Yonis Ahmedali, Catalina Anneese, Bobby Blaauw, Anne Groenewegen, Yasumi Meijer, Sophie Roelfsema, Laurence Verbree, Laura van Zonneveld, Sebastian Ohlig (Chairperson, DE)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Bearing in mind that the rule of law, as laid out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), is a fundamental EU value,
  2. Concerned by the lack of a shared legal framework on defining ‘rule of law’ in the European Union,
  3. Reiterating Member States’ right to adopt national legislation and the conflicts arising out of the subsidiarity principle,1The subsidiarity principle, as laid out in Article 5 TEU, states that legislation adopted at the lowest-possible level.
  4. Alarmed by developments in Member States such as Poland, where, in a ruling, the Constitutional Tribunal recently questioned the very legal foundations of the EU,
  5. Acknowledging that the EU’s mechanism for defending its fundamental values, as it is laid out in Article 7 TEU, has proven inadequate,
  6. Conscious that, in the past, alliances between Member States have blocked EU attempts in line with Article 7 TEU to hold said Member States accountable for violations of EU fundamental values,
  7. Observing the rejection of the idea of withholding EU funds in response to breaches of EU fundamental values by several EU Member States,
  8. Noting the ongoing debate on introducing a ‘Copenhagen Mechanism’;2The concept of a Copenhagen Mechanism refers to the possibility of an EU-wide supervisory and monetary mechanism, tracking the rule of law in Member States and with the power to freeze national practices.

  1. Calls upon the European Commission to establish a multi-stakeholder working group tasked with developing an EU-wide consensual definition of the term ‘rule of law’;
  2. Reminds Member States of the legal precedents establishing the primacy of European over national law;
  3. Urges the European Council to increase the public perception of the transparency of the Article 7 process;
  4. Requests the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) to:
    1. conduct a study examining the advantages of a reform of the Rule of Law Mechanism in the TEU,
    2. devise possible areas of reform in the TEU;
  5. Further request the European Council to, dependent on the results of the aforementioned study, amend Article 7 TEU following the legal guidelines set forth in Article 48 TEU for such processes;
  6. Encourages the European Commission to partially restrict the dispensation of EU funding in response to Member States’ violations of European values, in particular the rule of law, whilst:
    1. targeting the respective Member States’ governments, not populations,
    2. setting the scale of the sanction according to the severity of the breach;
  7. Calls upon the European Commission to guarantee accountability and transparency in supplying funding;
  8. Calls upon Directorate General for Budget (DG BUDG) to ensure no EU funds are being utilised to finance operations in conflict with European values;
  9. Calls upon the Directorate General for Justice and Consumer (DG JUST) to further expand its existing mechanisms for a review of the state of Rule of Law in Member States;
  10. Calls upon the European Commission to create an independent expert group tasked with:
    1. looking into the feasibility of implementing a neutral intra-EU evaluation of the status of European values in Member States,
    2. investigating the advantages of and steps required for a ‘Copenhagen Mechanism’ system.


Resolutions Zeist 2021


Women in STEM: While some economic sectors are almost gender-equal, there is a large gender gap among scientists and engineers. This disparity manifests itself in some Member States and regions more than in others, for example, in Luxembourg women make up only 28% of all scientists and engineers. How can the EU tackle this inequality?

Submitted by:  Irem Afacan, Felix Crawford, Rebecca Reuvekamp, Tommie Steenwinkel, Órla Stockmann, Liv Straat, Wouter Verheijen, (Ruben Rosaria, Chair NL)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Noting with deep regret that women make up only 30% of the information and communications technology (ICT) workforce and occupy less than 7% of tech positions in Europe,
  2. Contemplating the discrimination of women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sector with regard to:
    1. salary,
    2. opportunities,
    3. access to research funding, 
  3. Bearing in mind that closing the STEM gap would lead to a EUR 610-820 billion boost of the EU’s total GDP by 2050, 1STEM gap refers to the discrepancy between males and females working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 
  4. Aware of the prevalence of gender biases and stereotypes in the STEM sector, which discourages women from pursuing a career in these fields,
  5. Concerned by the lack of encouragement, support, and practical experiences for girls in STEM subjects over the course of their education,
  6. Realising the lack of female role models in the STEM sector who might be able to encourage girls to pursue a career in this field,
  7. Observing the differences in STEM gender ratios across Member States;

  1. Asks UN Women to evaluate companies within the EU regarding their gender dynamics yearly;
  2. Calls upon the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) to create a certificate for companies that have at least 45% female employees;
  3. Encourages Member States to financially support companies with more than 45% female employees; 
  4. Asks the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) to expand their services by:
    1. including an academic scholarship fund for women,
    2. expanding the accessibility of mentors for women in STEM;
  5. Seeks Member States to set minimum wages for employment;
  6. Calls upon Member States to mandate equal amounts of parental leave for men and women;
  7. Calls upon the EIGE to organise various informational campaigns, such as:
    1. seminars,
    2. videos,
    3. sending representatives to organisations and schools;
  8. Encourages media corporations to address the STEM gap by:
    1. devoting equal screen time to male and women,
    2. combating stereotypes in media;
  9. Calls upon the European Commission to create an annual conference for gender equality and women’s rights.


Resolutions Zeist 2021


West Balkan woes: Though the EU has committed to starting accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania last year, it remains unrealistic that any Western Balkan country will join the EU within the next years. Taking this into account, how can the EU still facilitate regional economic growth and revive the European perspective for these countries?

Submitted by: Chiury de Nijs, Elena Stunda, Eline Dijkman, Róisín Clancy, Storm Visser, Jędrzej Cader (Chairperson, PL)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Appreciating the need for a country-specific approach to the Western Balkan region,
  2. Aware of the sluggish economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in the Western Balkan region,
  3. Paying tribute to the right of Member States to voice their concerns regarding the EU accession of Western Balkan nations such as North Macedonia and Albania, as it is laid out in Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),
  4. Concerned by the high unemployment in the Western Balkan regions, especially among younger generations,
  5. Gravely concerned by the prevalence of criminal organisations in the region, engaging in crimes such as:
    1. drug trafficking,
    2. trafficking in human beings,
  6. Noting with regret the lack of media freedom in many Western Balkan countries,
  7. Regretting the high levels of corruption in the Western Balkan region, slowing down economic growth,
  8. Alarmed by the lack of progress in the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue regarding Serbia not recognising Kosovo as a nation;

  1. Invites Member States to promote and organise regular summits together with Western Balkan countries following the example of the Brno Summit of 2021, specifically focusing on:
    1. improving bilateral relations between individual Western Balkan states, with their neighbours, and with the EU,
    2. addressing particular topics hindering the accession progress, such as corruption or limited media freedom;
  2. Urges the European Commission to focus current as well as future investment plans, such as its European Investment Plan (EIP), on the improvement and expansion of general infrastructure in Western Balkan countries;
  3. Seeks for the European Council to express regret concerning citizens’ general distrust in their local governments, for example towards the Albanian government regarding the COVID-19 pandemic;
  4. Calls upon the European Commission to extend its pro-vaccination campaigns to the Western Balkans;
  5. Encourages the Western Balkan countries to introduce monetary incentives for multinational corporations (MNCs) to move to the Western Balkans, for instance by lowering the corporate tax rate;
  6. Urges the Western Balkan states to promote tourism in the area by:
    1. collaborating with European TV broadcasting companies as well as streaming services to create promotional videos portraying various tourist attractions in the Western Balkan region,
    2. encouraging local governments to allocate funds from grants and investment plans to the tourist industry;
  7. Calls upon the European Commission to amend Article 49 TEU to also require countries wishing to accede to the EU to uphold and commit to EU values;
  8. Calls upon Europol and Frontex to collaborate on a project that is aimed at combatting drug and human trafficking in Member States and border regions, which would:
    1. support Europol in its existing efforts to battle drug trafficking within Member States in accordance with EU drug policy,
    2. help to enforce the EU Anti Trafficking Directive of 2011,
    3. collaborate with Western Balkan countries and existing non-governmental organisations that are addressing this issue;
  9. Strongly urges Western Balkan countries to revise, expand, and enforce their media and press freedom laws with the aim of meeting the Copenhagen Accession Criteria;
  10. Encourage Western Balkan countries to combat corruption by:
    1. extending the political and economic education in the region’s educational systems,
    2. further facilitating the collaboration of EU and Western Balkan higher education institutions, for instance, with regards to student exchanges;
  11. Urges the European Council to proclaim that Serbia will not be able to advance in any accession negotiations until it recognises Kosovo as a completely sovereign and independent state.


Resolutions Zeist 2021


No more time to lose: Despite strict nature protection laws, the EU is struggling to maintain its biodiversity, with unsustainable farming, fragmentation, habitat loss, and climate change being the biggest threats to biodiversity. What can the EU do in order to protect all species and habitats in Europe?

Submitted by: Doris de Wit, Evelien Korving, Gabrielle Groeneveld, Jade Geurts, Julie Terng, Meilan Luijendijk, PSubmitted by: Doris de Wit, Evelien Korving, Gabrielle Groeneveld, Jade Geurts, Julie Terng, Meilan Luijendijk, Parmis Mohajeri, Sarah Overweg, Aiden Blokzijl, Klára Vísnerová (Chairperson, CZ)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Recognising the  need for a coordinated approach to protecting biodiversity, as expressed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),
  2. Aware of:
    1. the correlation between declining biodiversity and climate change,
    2. the need for a joint approach,
  3. Noting with regret how rising consumption demand leads to overexploitation of global natural resources,
  4. Deeply alarmed that up to 25% of European animal species are now in danger of extinction,
  5. Observing that terrestrial and marine ecosystems are currently absorbing roughly 50% of manmade carbon emissions,
  6. Deeply concerned by the danger posed by invasive alien species to biodiversity;

  1. Suggests Member States to connect natural ecosystems with urban areas by implementing initiatives like ‘green roofs’ or ‘The Bees in the City’, following the model established by the University of Westminster 2019; 1A green roof is a roof that is partially or fully covered with vegetation.
  2. Calls upon Member States to update their agri-food chain legislation to include taxes on meat products;
  3. Calls upon Member States to:
    1. encourage research into their local natural habitats and their preservation,
    2. allocate more funding to natural preservation;
  4. Encourages Member States to direct their agricultural sectors to respect the time required for the recovery of overexploited land areas in accordance with the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030;
  5. Suggest Member States establish a fee on food overproduction following the Korean model;
  6. Asks Member States to financially support and expand endangered species’ breeding and relocation initiatives;
  7. Calls upon Member States to improve tracking of and adopt measures against the spread of alien invasive species in their ecosystems;
  8. Urges Member States to implement stricter regulations against illegal wildlife hunting and trafficking, as well as improve enforcement of pre-existing laws.


Resolutions Zeist 2021


No one left behind: The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately hit research and development in some Member States. Students and early-career scientists are leaving their regions in order to obtain better funding in others, resulting in a vicious cycle of brain drain. How can the EU stop this trend whilst treating all regions fairly?

Submitted by: Anouk Oldenhuis Arwert, Grace Mbonu, Nienke Hut, Petter Hartman, Sofia Dobrovitskaya, Wies Blaauw, Joran Meijerink, Nikoleta Chapanova (Chairperson, BG)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Appreciating the Horizon Europe programme that will invest up to EUR 95,5 billion in supporting researchers and entrepreneurs by 2027,
  2. Noting that the programme’s predecessor, Horizon 2020, failed to equally distribute funding among the EU’s regions,
  3. Regretting the lack of a united approach to combat youth unemployment in the EU,
  4. Stressing the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic pandemic has worsened the disparities between the EU’s regions,
  5. Keeping in mind that the freedom of movement, as laid out in Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), should not be restricted,
  6. Appreciating the expanding possibility of remote working in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,
  7. Concerned by existing disparities between different regions of the EU with regard to:
    1. investment in innovation,
    2. employment rates and average salary,
    3. economic performance;

  1. Congratulates the Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) on implementing investment programmes in research and innovation such as Horizon Europe;
  2. Requests that DG RTD takes into account The European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) when distributing the aforementioned funds among Member States;
  3. Invites the European Commission to support the European youth in navigating the job market by:
    1. providing consultations for young job-seekers,
    2. creating a network of country-specific employment initiatives targeted at first-time employees; 
  4. Calls on the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) to: 
    1. identify systematic problems in the infrastructure of Member States,
    2. propose solutions to these problems,
    3. communicate its findings with DG RTD;
  5. Suggests Member States invest in information and communications technology (ICT) while ensuring equal distribution among schools and businesses;
  6. Request the European Commission create an EU-wide informational programme on online work and school.

Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI)

Topic Overview Zeist 2021

Out of the shadows: In 2018, human trafficking affected over 14,000 people in the EU, over 70% of which were female. Building on existing legislation, what steps can the EU take to eradicate this form of organised crime once and for all?

Chaired by Amy Brook (UK)

A traffic that outrages every suggestion of reason and religion…[an] inhuman custom.’

– Mary Wollstonecraft, philosopher and author of ‘A Vindication on the Rights of Woman’

The Topic at a Glance

Looking at what we might consider ‘activism’ throughout history, from Mary Wollstonecroft’s advocacy for womens’ rights to post-colonial movements of independence and abolition, the impulse to exploit specific social groups is a common theme. Challenging these systems of oppression could be said to have repeatedly defined the modern history of humanity, up until the present day. As such, the current fight against human trafficking carries a certain historical resonance. Categorised by the United Nations as the second largest source of illegal income globally, beaten only by international drug trade, human trafficking still provides a lucrative business for those involved in organised crime. It constitutes an affront to the emotional and physical dignity of its victims, of which the majority are women and children. This ‘gross violation of human rights’ can involve forced organ donation, forced begging, sham marriages, or even illegal adoptions. Yet, the vast majority of victims worldwide are either subject to sexual exploitation (79%) or forced labour (18%), according to statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

Moving to look more specifically at the issue on the EU level, European countries are generally considered to be the ‘destination stage’ – the final place where those trafficked are brought to generate income for their captors. The process by which someone can become a victim of human trafficking can be split into three stages: recruitment, transportation, and then being forced into exploitative situations. Data on traffickers across Europe show that some level of connection with their victim helps with their recruitment: This could mean speaking the same language as their victim, or criminal gangs sometimes using women to build trust with female targets.


  • Human trafficking refers to the forced movement of people, either between different countries or internally within one state, in order to exploit them for financial gain. A distinction can be made here from ‘migrant smuggling’, where a person chooses to cross an international border rather than being forced to do so.
  • Modern slavery or forced labour, one form of human trafficking, involves ‘severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain’.
  • The so-called Nordic model’ was originally introduced into Swedish law before being adopted by other countries. The aim of this approach is to criminalise the sale of sex and place any potential risk of prosecution on those who pay for it, as opposed to sex workers. 
  • Organ trading involves forcing victims to have their organs sold on an illicit ‘red market’. This can constitute a form of human trafficking when the victims are moved or captured to remove their organs. The trade can involve organs from deceased individuals, but the popularity of kidney trade can clearly also be seen to implicate living victims. 
  • Some factors that cause vulnerability to trafficking are the need to seek asylum or a history of migration, economic precarity, low levels of education, or experience of conflict. Children should be considered particularly vulnerable people according to EU law.
  • In an EU context, third countries are defined as states that are not members of the European Union or that do not have access to the EU’s freedom of movement. Some key third countries for our topic are Albania, Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia.

Key Stakeholders

Starting from those most directly impacted by human trafficking, the majority of victims are female or minors, often with uncertain residency status in the country where they are working. Victims can often be recruited into a trafficking situation by someone they trust (such as a relative or partner) or criminal gangs, offering an apparently lucrative job to someone in poverty. Once in these situations, victims of trafficking often receive little of what they earn from clients or companies using their labour, with the majority of profit bypassing them to benefit the gangs or other people abusing them. 

On a grassroots level, non-governmental organisations and charities (such as ‘Amalie’ in Germany) often have first contact with those in trafficking situations, as victims with an irregular immigration status may be unwilling to contact national police or law enforcement for help. To fund their activities, non-governmental organisations in EU Member States can access financial support through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. This fund is in turn run by the European Commission, specifically under the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME), which is the department that is responsible for immigration and domestic policy within the EU. 

Another Commission body relevant to the topic of human rights and anti-trafficking is the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST). The EU agencies Frontex and Europol can also assist with anti-trafficking actions, with Frontex perhaps encountering victims of trafficking as they cross national borders. If victims are seeking legal redress, and are not successful within their national judicial system, they can then take their case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if they are in a Member State, or otherwise, if the country is a member of the Council of Europe (CoE), they can attempt to bring their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Finally, with the Council of Europe being completely separate from the European Union, it can also carry out its own level of oversight, with the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) inspecting Member States for signs of trafficking and offering ways to improve in evaluative reports. 

Figure 1: The Key Stakeholders of the Topic.

Key Conflicts

The ‘Nordic model’ – progressive approach or paternalism?

As discussed in our key terms, the ‘Nordic’ or ‘Swedish’ model aims to criminalise the sale of sex to therefore drive down demand for prostitution across the board, therefore impacting both the victims of human trafficking who have been forced into the sex trade, and those who enter the industry voluntarily. Although this approach has been adopted by multiple governments both in Europe and beyond, and has been generally considered a progressive policy, there has been notable pushback from some groups. Representatives from sex worker-led organisations have noted that the paternalistic ‘modern crusade’ of the policy seems to ‘ignore women who choose to sell sex’, while some legal scholars have commented on the policy being implemented in rather different ways across different jurisdictions to varying success. However, in the case of Germany, it has been suggested that the majority (90%) of those working in brothels are forced to do so, which therefore perhaps supports the case for criminalizing all sales of sex.

Figure 2: The extent of human trafficking in the EU and beyond.

The intersection of migration policy and human trafficking

Returning to the example of Germany, described by some as the ‘brothel of Europe’, the majority of women working in the sex industry are migrants. For some of the women interviewed in a recent German documentary, most of whom originally come from Romania or Bulgaria, it is clear that they are particularly vulnerable (lacking health insurance, for example). Some Member States in Western Europe have also expressed discontent towards some Eastern states, believing that their nationals have been ‘abusing visa free travel’ pathways to move west with ‘unlawful residency and unfounded asylum claims’. Invoking the EU’s Visa Suspension Mechanism has been discussed with reference to this issue, and, in 2019, the Netherlands went as far as to formally ask the European Commission to suspend visa-free travel for Albania (to no avail). Given that the majority share of women forced into sexual exploitation would be more likely to have an irregular immigration history, one could argue that any action to eliminate visa free travel could have a detrimental effect on these women, as a form of double oppression. Conversely, increased border control between these countries could block flows of forced movement from generally poorer Eastern states to more wealthy nations in Western Europe. 

Human trafficking in the digital age

In the last two years, the impact of COVID-19, causing a massive swing towards online interaction, has arguably exposed vulnerabilities in many parts of modern society. This transformational change also has had an impact on human trafficking. Helga Gayer, head of GRETA, notes that criminals capitalised on the increased economic precarity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recruitment methods of traffickers also shifted online in 2020, to become even more clandestine, according to the UN. With social media, gaming, and even short term rental websites being identified as the source of trafficking recruitment attempts, any action to combat human trafficking must therefore try to close these online loopholes. Any action in this space, especially investigative powers by law enforcement authorities, must however be balanced with any concerns for the privacy of internet users.

Measures in Place

On the tenth anniversary of the landmark 2011 Directive ‘on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims’, which constituted a landmark European action in the area of anti-trafficking, the upcoming Strategy on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (2021-2025) will seek to implement the aims of this directive. Again recognising the added cost of the pandemic to survivors of trafficking across the continent, Margaret Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission for Promoting our European Way of Life, describes the new strategy as taking a ‘three pronged approach’ through legislation, policy, and funding. Measures will include criminalising the use of services from trafficked persons, especially by businesses and corporates through strengthening the existing Employers Sanctions Directive. In ‘breaking the business model’ where trafficking can succeed, the new strategy will also liaise with big technology platforms to reduce online recruitment by traffickers (Facebook and Whatsapp have previously been used to target young women in Germany). Moving from preventative measures to actions that support those trafficked, the Strategy continues to highlight the need for training of key workers (such as law enforcement, judiciary, and immigration officials), previously mentioned in the 2011 Directive. Training should therefore allow for the early identification of victims, aid with their ‘empowerment’ and reintegration into the wider community, and being sensitive to the perspectives of women and children

Another key piece of strategy for the European institutions exists in the Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling for the period between 2021 and 2025, building on the previous plan from 2015 to 2020. Looking specifically at its provisions for human trafficking in particular, they include the fair implementation of both the Victims Rights Directive to all victims regardless of their residence status, and the Residence Permit Directive, which aims to provide permits to victims of human trafficking within the EU bloc who are originally from third countries.

Finally, both international and European awareness campaigns complement calls for increased training.

Key Questions

  • The ‘Nordic approach’ has been highly debated on both an EU and an international level. What should be the EU’s position on this approach?
  • How should the EU address events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit that have increased instances of human trafficking?
  • Some matters related to human trafficking, such as the legal status of prostitution and investigation of alleged organ trades for instance, fall out of the European Union’s areas of ‘exclusive competence’. How will this impact your approach when drafting resolutions? In areas where decision-making must be shared by the EU with Member States, such as the legal status of prostitution, how can the EU take action whilst avoiding conflict? 
  •  How can the European Union liaise with third countries to end human trafficking, and what issues might impede any foreign policy action in this area?

Further Reading

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)

Topic Overview Zeist 2021

An expensive shade of green: The key aim of the EU Green Deal is becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Bearing in mind the recent surge in energy prices, how can the EU assure that this rapid shift towards renewable energy does not come at the detriment of consumers and companies who might face higher energy bills as a result?

Chaired by Aysha Koçtürk (TR)

The future is green energy, sustainability, renewable energy.’

– Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian-US-American actor and politician

The Topic at a Glance

The European Union’s Green Deal, which was presented in December 2019, is a project that aims to support the transition to a more sustainable European economy. The Green Deal aims to reduce energy prices and ensure a cleaner overall environment, thereby improving quality of life in Europe. In order to reach the ambitious goal of carbon-neutrality by 2050, the intermediate target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Furthermore, the European Commission proposed the new binding target of a 40% share of renewable energy in the EU’s energy mix by 2030. An increased use of renewable energy plays an all-important role as it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the dependency on non-renewable fossil fuels. Although the European Union has been able to move further away from its dependency on fossil fuels, there is still progress to be made.

Figure 1: Energy mix in the EU Member States as of 2020.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, energy prices soared due to an increased demand after quarantine restrictions were lifted. At the same time, the general supply of fossil fuels (mainly gas) was low, yet Russia, who is the EU’s main gas supplier, was reluctant to stock up its usual gas supplies to the EU, leading to tensions between the two parties. Gas supplies are currently more exhausted than usual at the start of the heating season.

As a consequence of the increase in gas prices, the average electricity price for households have also increased by 230%. This price increase is especially detrimental for financially weak households, on which the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll. Furthermore, some renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, can only generate electricity under specific weather conditions, unlike fossil fuels.

Currently, countries continuously use fossil fuels, even though the generation of energy is ultimately pricier than with renewable energy sources. While natural gas and coal make up 35% of the EU’s total energy production, the share of fossil fuels amounts to more than 60% in the Netherlands, Malta, Poland, and Cyprus. These energy sources have a greater energy density (i.e. they require less surface area to generate the same amount of energy) in addition to historically fossil-fuel-intense energy mixes. As the use of coal is decreasing, Member States use natural gas as a pathway to reach renewable energy to achieve their goals of a green sustainable future, therefore further pushing price increases for natural gas. 

Figure 2: Increase in Electricity, Gas and CO2 between 2018-2021.


  • Renewable energy, which can also be referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources that can replenish themselves such as wind power, hydroelectric power, solar energy, and biomass.
  • Fossil fuels (e.g. coal, oil, and natural gas) consist of decomposed plants and animals and are found in the earth’s crust. Their exploitation as energy sources works via burning and therefore produces high amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
  • Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb and partly emit radiation back towards the Earth, leading to a warming of the atmosphere. The most important greenhouse gases are methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapour.
  • Carbon neutrality describes a neutral state of carbon in the atmosphere, i.e. the state when there is a balance between the CO2 emitted and CO2 removed from the atmosphere. Therefore the impact on the atmosphere is neither positive nor negative.
  • Energy poverty refers to the lack of access and inability to afford adequate energy or fuel that is necessary for the life of individuals or communities.

Key Stakeholders

As part of the Green Deal, all 27 Member States have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. To achieve the set goals defined by the Green Deal, the European Commission has promised to, over the next decade, allocate at least EUR 1 Trillion to sustainable investments to consumers in aid of measures such as renovating building infrastructures to make them suitable for renewable energy production and supporting households and companies affected by the pandemic.

Around half of the funding will be provided directly from the EU Multiannual Budget (MFF) and the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The other half of the funding will be distributed through private sectors which correspond to the EU values such as InvestEU.

Even though some of Europe’s oil and gas companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell and TotalEnergies, have started to enter the renewable industry, their firm’s success is still highly dependent on oil and gas. A strategic repositioning of their business models can thus only happen slowly if they do not want to increase the risk of bankruptcy.

Energy suppliers are the bridge between consumers and energy-producers. They buy energy from the producer and distribute it to the consumer. Whether the energy distributed to the consumer is renewable or non-renewable depends on the energy mix of the country and on the market. If energy prices increase, energy suppliers most often will directly translate this price increase to the price they charge consumers for providing them with the energy.

Figure 3: The Key Stakeholders of the Topic.

Key Conflicts

The unfortunate result of economic unsustainability 

Long before the Green Deal was established, countries were already looking for ways to switch to a more sustainable energy system. The high cost of fully implementing renewable energy sources is one of the key challenges to its expansion. As renewable energies typically are expensive to develop, many countries could not continue on with their sustainability projects. While the stronger economies of Western European Countries could increase the affordability and thereby facilitate the switch to renewable energies, Eastern Europe is also the home of big coal mines as these countries have had strong mining industries for decades. If there was a switch in energy sources many coal miners, which form an important role in the working population, would be left unemployed. How can the EU enable the switch to renewables without adversely affecting citizens and the economy of certain countries?

Gone with the Wind

After the COVID-19 pandemic, energy prices increased to reach a record-breaking high of EUR 100 per megawatt-hour on 1 October 2021 – the start of the official heating season in Europe. This marked an increase in the energy prices of as high as 400% when compared to the beginning of the year. As Europe had a natural gas shortage during the pandemic, an increased demand for fuel led to the increase of the gas prices. As a consequence of poor wind production this year in countries like Germany, coal consumption increased again to avoid energy deficits in the country. As of 2021, wind and solar power are the most used and accessible renewable energy sources in the EU. How can the EU make renewable energy more accessible to all, to avoid similar problems going forward?

They cannot afford…

In 2020, around 8% of EU citizens stated they were struggling to adequately heat their homes, in other words, were suffering from energy poverty. Simultaneously, around 75% of EU citizens still heavily depend on heating systems fuelled by fossil fuels, which further impedes the energy transition. The fact is that not everyone can afford the switch from their coal or gas heating system to one that can be fueled with renewable energy. 

Many buildings are not suitable for renewable energy production as they have not been constructed to fit the requirements of such technologies. Due to the main energy source at time of construction being fossil fuels, many buildings’ foundations are mainly geared to them. How should the EU overcome the conflict of improper infrastructure in buildings to be able to speed up the process of shifting towards renewable energy? More globally, how can the EU ensure all its citizens can partake in the transition to renewable energy sources?

Measures in Place

The European Commission has stipulated the set of goals of the Green Deal in the European Climate Law, which was adopted on 30 June 2021. This European Climate law is the binding legislative form of the Green Deal. The Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) is a policy framework which is a part of the EU’s climate goals and is aimed at ensuring that all Member States are contributing fairly to reducing carbon emission. The regulation, which covers 60% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, establishes mandatory national emission reduction goals for sectors such as transportation, housing, agriculture, and waste management for the period of 2021 to 2030.

Additionally, there have been many EU-funded projects whose aim is to eliminate factors challenging the shift to a sustainable green future. For example, the Commission is funding action in Lithuania helping citizens and businesses cut CO2 emissions and lower energy bills. Furthermore the EU’s LIFE Program is funding projects in Poland and Italy of which the purpose is to lower car emissions. Moreover, with the Social Climate Fund, the Commission aims to help citizens suffering from energy poverty with their expenses in their transition to renewable energy products. It will provide the Member States approximately EUR 72.2 billion over seven years in funding to help those in need during the time period of 2025 to 2032.

Key Questions

  • What could the EU do to make the process of shifting to renewables more accessible to those who were affected economically during the pandemic?
  • How could the EU incentivise Member States to reduce the share of fossil fuels in their energy mixes?
  • Keeping in mind the importance of oil and gas companies for the EU’s economy, what should the EU do to sustain their businesses while at the same time shifting to a more sustainable energy sector?
  • How could the EU prevent any more energy price surges from happening?

Further Reading

Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)

Topic Overview Zeist 2021

Women in STEM: While some economic sectors are almost gender-equal, there is a large gender gap among scientists and engineers. This disparity manifests itself in some Member States and regions more than in others, for example, in Luxembourg women make up only 28% of all scientists and engineers. How can the EU tackle this inequality?

Chaired by Lillie Reynolds (IE)

The most damaging phrase in the English language is: It’s always been done that way.’

– Grace Hopper, US-American computer scientist

The Topic at a Glance

Over the last decades, women have made significant advancements in education and the workplace, however, in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sectors their advancements have been less striking. Despite the fact that women constitute almost 50% of the labour market, they make up just 30% of the ICT (information and communications technology) workforce and occupy less than 7% of tech positions in Europe. Why is this? Factors such as a shortage of female role models, persisting stereotypes, the gender pay gap, a lack of encouragement from teachers, a lack of practical experience, and sexism in the workplace perpetuate the gender gap among scientists and engineers. A survey of United Kingdom-based tech workplaces revealed that three in five women suffer discrimination based on their gender in the workplace. This happens in the form of receiving smaller salaries compared to their male colleagues, encountering bias during the interview process, and experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Combined, these factors prevent women from prospering in STEM fields and discourage them from entering this field in the first place. 

But what is the problem with this gender gap? First of all, the fact that the people involved in the actual development of technology are predominantly male means that most technology is designed for men, instead of for the full range of its users. This not only takes out the diversity in the production process, but also leads to the product or services offered not being perfectly fitted for all genders. For example, artificial organs have typically been designed to primarily suit men. Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that an increase in gender diversity increases profit and creates better team dynamics. In terms of the economy, closing the STEM gap would lead to a EUR 610 billion to EUR 820 billion boost of the EU’s gross domestic product in 2050. Reducing the STEM gender gap is vital for the EU, as it could help decrease the gender skills gap, increase employment, close the gender wage gap, increase productivity, and reduce occupational segregation. 


  • A gender gap is the disparity between people of different genders in any area, including social, political, cultural, and economic attainments or attitudes.
  • Gender stereotypes are preconceived ideas that arbitrarily assign women and men

characteristics and roles based on and limited by their sex.

  • Bias is prejudice in favour of or against an idea, thing, or person, and it is generally considered to be unfair. Bias can be implicit (unconscious) or explicit (conscious).
  • A skills gap refers to the difference between an employee’s skill set and the skills they require to carry out their job. It disproportionately affects women in STEM due to lack of access to and training in STEM skills.
  • Occupational segregation is the division of workers on the basis of demographic characteristics, most commonly gender.

Key Stakeholders

Member States are crucial actors when it comes to closing the gender gap among scientists and engineers. They are the ones responsible for creating relevant legislation to combat this problem, for example, in their education curricula and employment. They are also in charge of integrating into such legislation the resources and analytics provided by the European Commission. Since employment and social affairs is a shared competence between the EU and the Member States, the EU creates the necessary frameworks to safeguard workers’ rights, guaranteeing them protection from gender discrimination and equal employment opportunities. Member States’ national laws must reflect these frameworks. Some Member States have a more prominent gender gap in STEM fields than others. For example, in Lithuania, 57% of scientists and engineers are women compared to 25% in Hungary.

The Council of Europe (CoE) promotes women’s rights and gender equality and works on combating harmful stereotypes. For instance, its Gender Equality Commission provides advice and support to institutions and EU Member States. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) is an EU agency working to raise the issue of gender inequality. It provides research, data, and best practices by producing studies and collecting statistics about gender equality in the EU. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) helps to ensure that the fundamental rights of people living in the EU are protected and provides independent, evidence-based assistance and expertise on many issues including gender equality to the Member States.

UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with Member States to design the laws, policies, programmes, and services needed to ensure that these standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. 

STEM corporations are responsible for promoting and employing a gender balanced workforce. While some companies run internal programs to support gender balance, like Amazon, these are still a minority. Other corporates, like Google and Facebook, informally support such efforts via sponsorships of other initiatives aiming to encourage women to enter STEM fields.

Figure 1: The Key Stakeholders of the Topic.

Key Conflicts

Let’s not have a double standard. One standard will do just fine.

Gender biases and stereotypes are prevalent in STEM fields, which can create obstacles for the progression of women in STEM careers and studies as well as impact their appeal to women and girls. These stereotypes include the belief that men perform better in STEM subjects such as maths and science. Women are also frequently seen as less likely to have the qualities needed to be successful in STEM. Companies therefore, may discriminate against women in the hiring or recruitment process. The large implications of stereotypes stem from girls fearing they might not be treated equally and have to work harder to convince their peers as well as employers to achieve the same career steps as their male counterparts. In particular, information technology experts are normally pictured as men in the media, causing some to believe that women are not suitable for the field due to biological or cognitive differences, despite there being no proof for this claim.

Education, education, education.

Considering that many of the factors that act as a barrier for women in STEM are directly linked to education, it seems intuitive for the EU to direct their focus to this sector. School environments, meaning both students and teachers, still often hold an unconscious belief that girls have less talent for STEM compared to boys. This, combined with the belief that STEM needs innate talent allegedly not possessed by girls, may lead to the lack of encouragement and support for girls in STEM subjects. The stereotyping in education has vast implications and contributes to the low percentage of women graduating in STEM. Keeping in mind that girls lose interest and confidence in STEM the older they get, the emphasis of countermeasures should be put on all levels of education. There is a direct correlation between practical experiences a girl receives during her education and her interest in STEM. Yet, 39% say they do not get enough hands-on experience. How can an inclusive STEM education be achieved to help young women build their skills and confidence in this sector? 

In a rich man’s world…

Additionally, women tend to be offered lower salaries and fewer opportunities for promotion and have lower access to research funding. Employers are often concerned that women will start a family and take parental leave, and therefore be less available to work on long-term projects or extraordinary hours. They therefore discriminate against women already in the hiring or recruitment process. Research has shown that encouragement is important for the career progress of women. Access to mentoring from senior figures is an important factor for women in tech to gain more confidence and experience. However, in tech, there are very few female figures in high-level jobs to make this change happen in a significant way. This reflects gender discrimination and does not encourage women to stay in the tech industry or enter it in the first place.

Figure 2: Some Key Conflicts Summarised on an Infographic.

Measures in Place

In 2020, the European Commission adopted the European Skills Agenda/New Skills Agenda for Europe which builds upon the Commission’s 2016 skills agenda. This agenda is a five year- plan to up- and reskill Europeans citizens according to recent economic changes. It recognises the current mismatch of skills the labour field is seeking and those job-seekers have, and therefore aims to obtain a minimum level of digital skills for all jobseekers. Yet, it is focused on the general workforce and, thus, lacks an emphasis on STEM education.

Acquiring these skills could be an important step towards reaching gender equality in the STEM field. Digital opportunity traineeships, an initiative set up by the European Commission, offered traineeships at different companies to students and recent graduates in the digital field between 2018 and 2020. Even though it was not directly focused on women it still provided them with practical experience and with the opportunity to gain more confidence in the field. 

All Member States have signed the Women in Digital Declaration, encouraging women to play an active role in the digital and technology sectors. They have therein committed themselves to work closely with the public and private sectors to achieve equality in tech on a national level. Gender equality (Article 23) and non-discrimination (Article 21) are fundamental principles of the EU, protected in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). National education curriculas vary greatly between Member States. Some countries, like Finland, already have integrated coding and computer science as a bigger part of their national curricula to further practical experience and equal opportunities in STEM. Furthermore, more than half of the European education systems have introduced digital competence in primary education, either integrated into or as a compulsory separate subject.

Outside of legislation and frameworks, various campaigns are furthering the representation of role models for women and girls to inspire them to pursue their interest in STEM. Codeweek, an annual event supported by the European Commission, trains thousands of girls to code and sparks their interest in the digital field. The European Commission also established #EUwomen4future campaign, which features women in STEM. 

Key Questions

  • Considering the existing stereotypes and bias women face in STEM sectors, how can the EU and its Member States provide adequate support to its female citizens?
  • In light of the vast need for gender equality in STEM, should Member States continue operating independently or consider enforcing a more coordinated approach tackling inequality in the workplace as well as in education?
  • How can the Member States promote female STEM professionals as role models?
  • What steps should STEM companies take in order to eliminate gender bias in the hiring process and ensure a safe and gender-friendly workspace?

Further Reading