Last Tuesday, AEGEE-Mannheim took a trip to the heart of the European Union – the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Six AEGEE members participated in the day trip. After lunch in Strasbourg and airport-like security check to get into the Parliament building we finally made it.
Our tour guide was a Belgium woman who spoke six different languages! She led us through the complex to an hour-long information session before entering the Parliament chamber.
Our session was led by a Slovenian woman and was very informative. She gave us an overview of the European Parliament and current issues. We learned that there are 751 seats and they are assigned proportionally based on the population of the countries. Germany has the most seats. An especially interesting point was that the members of Parliament sit on the left or right side of the chamber in function of their political leaning. She also discussed the various European parties and the President of the Parliament.
Afterwards, we headed to the chamber where there were about 30 members present. They were speaking in several different languages and everyone had headphones with live translation to allow them to follow along. The Parliament was discussing the ongoing crisis in Syria.
In summary, it was a very interesting and “European” experience. Seeing the workings of the European Parliament for yourself helps you to appreciate all the coordination and impressiveness of the European Union itself. And with all the languages and nationalities present in the Parliament you truly do feel “united in diversity”.
Text: Kathleen Foley