Dear Delegates of Zeist 2021,
As the President of the Session, it is my job to implement our theme: ‘Shifting lenses: Creating a mosaic of ideas’ into the Session’s academic output. For me, this theme is calling on all of us to not let ourselves be inhibited by notions of ‘this has always been done this way’ or ‘this is just how our society works’. In my opinion, only very few concepts in the world are of such fundamental nature that they do not deserve to be challenged and potentially changed. With the world rapidly evolving around us, constantly and carefully rethinking how we as the European Union organise life and do society is not a choice, but a necessity.
The Vice-Presidents and I tried to keep this in mind while developing the topics you will be discussing in Zeist. All of the topics are – explicitly or implicitly – asking you to reevaluate whether existing legislation is still aligned with our values as a European society, and, if not, how said legislation should be brought up to speed.
However, I urge you all: Do not just challenge yourselves in terms of academics, but also as people. Communication always works in both ways. Therefore, make an effort to not only express your own opinions to your fellow Delegates, but to truly engage with and appreciate their ideas and opinions as well. Understanding which experiences others are basing their arguments on is often much harder than making your own voice heard, but is all the more crucial for creating innovation. Among other things, Zeist 2021 will be about achieving a rich diversity of ideas, all of which will receive their rightful place in the mosaic the Session’s theme is asking us to create.
Four years of participating in the European Youth Parliament have taught me that there are a lot more things we all have in common than things that divide us, and that seemingly irreconcilable differences in opinions are more often than not based on a lack of clear communication, as opposed to actual disagreements. Your Chairpersons, all of them truly amazing individuals in their own right, will be there to support you on this journey, but they rely on your willingness to engage, to communicate, and to compromise.
As of 2021, the European Union and the world are facing unprecedented challenges, ranging from a global resurgence of populist and authoritarian regimes, the abuse of human beings as pawns in political chessgames and for financial gain, to man-made climate change. Solving these issues will undoubtedly rely on international cooperation. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that politics can do only so much without the support and, if required, pressure from civil society. That is where I see the European Youth Parliament and, more specifically, Zeist 2021. By participating in the Session, learning about the EU, and discussing political questions in English, you, dear Delegates, are actively preparing to become the future leaders that Europe relies upon.
With that all said, it is my greatest pleasure to welcome you all to the Regional Selection Conference of EYP The Netherlands, Zeist 2021. I cannot wait to hear your opinions!
See you soon!
President of Zeist 2021