Due to the Brussels trip organized by the HAMK University of Applied Sciences on the 6th November 2019 we got the chance to visit the European Parliament besides numerous other important organizations. To get you attuned in our visit, here are some facts about the institution:
The European Parliament, which represents 500 million citizens, was founded in 1952. The Parliament is located in three different cities – in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. Its most important functions are adopting the EU legislation, coordinating the annual budget, controlling the executive and in general having a supervisory power. During the elections of the European Parliament which take place every 5 years the EU citizens vote for deputies who are representing the voice of their voters. These deputies are responsible for electing the president of the Parliament every 2,5 years – the current president who was elected this year is David Sassoli from Italy.
The European Parliament is an impressive building. The most important place is the hemicycle. When we entered it we feel very small. It is an awesome place where the deputies and the president conduct important debates, decisions and votings for the European Union. The deputies are sitting in the hemicycle according to their political group and not to their countries. Each political group is represented by its own president sitting in the first row. The president of the European Parliament is sitting in the centre as he is in charge of the debates’ organization. When observing the picture you can see little windows around the hemicycle. Behind them you can find little offices for the translation of the discussions. During the debates there are deputies from each European country which means that the translation process involves more than 20 different languages. The interpreters translate simultaneously all the discussion during the debates. Therefore, all the deputies can understand the debate disregarding the language which one is spoken.
Before entering the plenary, the sculpture at the plenary’s entrance was showed to us. It stands in the stairwell of the European Parliament, reaching 36 meters in total and consisting of a lot of small pieces that are interconnected with each other. When having a first glance on the construction we were impressed and amazed by its presence, as it is stands in the middle of the room with spiral stairs all around it. Our guide also helped us to understand the meaning of the sculpture as the building also represents a metaphor. If you would move or pull out one part of the sculpture, it effects the other parts of the building as well and the whole construction would then fall apart. This construction refers to all the 28 member states of the European Union (before BREXIT), that are supposed to form one big unit together. As every member state is unique and differs in culture and size, the parts of the building also differ in their shape and size. Explaining the metaphor, it can be concluded, that it takes only one member state to not cooperate with the other member states or even exiting the European Union to weaken the construction of the EU and to make it start cracking in the end.
We were glad to have the chance visiting the European Parliament and get a very informative and interesting insight to the facilities and processes of this institution. It was a great feeling to enter the building where decisions are made which affect the future of all of us. We visited the Parliament during the committee meetings which means that MEPs from different political groups from different countries are coming together to discuss on current topics. The atmosphere in the halls of the European Parliament let us feel that here significant debates are taking place. Furthermore, realizing that we are the ones who are affected by the consequences of their decisions was stunning but at the same time intimidating.
If you are interested in keeping yourself up to date about all the current political topics, not only about the EU but all over the world, you are welcome to use this website https://www.politico.com/ which was recommended by our guide to stay in the know!