Author: Eva Wildöer

  • FEMM


    Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

    Chaired by Sveva Austoni (IT)

    About the Chairperson

    Hello besties! I’m Sveva, an 18-year-old from Italy, and I’ll be your chairperson for your first session, how exciting is that? I am a coffee addict and I love baking, that’s about everything you need to know about me. Kidding (maybe). I also love music, so much that I actually take my guitar and convince myself I can play!! In case you haven’t noticed yet, I enjoy being an active part of EYP, I know, shocker. I can’t wait to meet you all and discuss this extremely interesting and pressing topic. See you soon!! <3 

    The Topic at a Glance

    The Polish reform on abortion at the beginning of 2021 revoked the right to get an abortion when the fetus presents life-threatening diseases or defects. In addition, more recently  it was followed by the law requiring doctors to register all new pregnancies. This near-total ban on abortion has been recognised as violating pregnant people’s privacy by identifying those who get abortions, or even have miscarriages, and by investigating the medical professionals who perform the procedure. This has raised concerns from activists and human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The ban is actively endangering Polish pregnant people who will be prevented from seeking medical care, prenatal or otherwise, potentially causing an unprecedented amount of unsafe abortions and health issues, considering that a vast majority of abortions in Poland were based on the fetus having congenital problems. 

    Another alarming stepback in Europe is Hungary’s case: the Hungarian government agreed on an amendment of the current legislation pronouncing it mandatory for pregnant people to listen to the fetal heartbeat before going through with the abortion. 

    Unfortunately, these are not the only cases where abortion is being progressively limited. Although all Member States, except Malta, have legalized abortion on request and broad social grounds,  there are still numerous barriers to it, such as mandatory waiting periods, strict time limits and mandatory counselling that gives biased opinions and medically inaccurate information.

    Such restraints are to be considered alongside the lack of access to birth control, which constitute not only a violation of reproductive’s rights but also a setback in the emancipation of women. Since people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds do not have the economic means to obtain contraceptives or abortion services,  they are forced  to give up on education and fulfilling careers, and that negatively affects the society as a whole


    • Abortion on request means that the decision of terminating the pregnancy is up to the pregnant person alone, without having to justify it to medical professionals, who carry out the procedure according to the law of the country.
    • Abortion on broad social grounds is an exception when the simple request of the pregnant person does not meet the limits of the national policies. Depending on the state’s policies, such grounds are typically of socio-economic nature, and they often apply when the fetus was the result of sexual assault.
    • Comprehensive Sexuality Education aims at raising awareness about birth control methods by spreading medically accurate information and tackling stigmas around the topic of sexuality. 

    Birth control or contraceptive is any method, medicine or device, including, but not limited to, condoms, various contraceptive pills, hormonal implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), tubal ligation for females1 and vasectomy2 for males, used to prevent pregnancies, and only some of them also the transmission of  sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Abortion is not included in the category of birth control methods. 

    1Also known as female sterilisation, it is a surgical procedure that removes, closes or clots the fallopian tubes, which is the way sperm uses to reach the eggs.

     2Also known as male sterilisation, it is a procedure that cuts or blocks the tubes carrying sperm.

    Key Stakeholders

    The European Union holds shared competence with Member States on matters concerning public health and human rights, meaning it can co-create common rules protecting and ensuring the respect of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). 

    The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) is a crucial stakeholder that can set SRHR as priorities, collecting data on the use of contraceptives across the EU to better establish what measures to implement.  

    With the help of its Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe supports human rights defenders and can prioritise aiding organisations and governments to implement policies promoting information on birth control and allow access to it. The Council could also include abortion rights in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as recently proposed by MEPs.

    The Centre of Reproductive Rights is the main non-governmental organisation (NGO) advocating for SRHR and works alongside the Council of Europe to establish obligations and oversee the application of aforementioned rights within the EU. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the UN’s SRHR agency that helps fund governments and organisations supplying access to reproductive healthcare, in line with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals which include the right to health and gender equality.

    Key Conflicts

    1. Developing a new conscience 

    Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) has shown to decrease risky sexual activities, especially in younger people who have been taught abstinence-only programs in schools, and to teach the comprehensive approach to sexuality, consequently leading to a decrease in teen pregnancies. The idea that abortion is a different type of healthcare service, and therefore should be treated as such, is supported by the rise of barriers and the criminal prosecutions against medical professionals practising unregistered abortions. Therefore CSE is set to eradicate this misconception in future generations by pursuing the teaching of unbiased and medically correct information. 

    Although UNESCO issued the International Technical Guidance on sexuality education, most Member States have yet to follow the guidelines and implement policies to guarantee the right to thorough sexuality education. 

    Figure 1: Who receives sexuality education and at what age in the EU

    2. Accessibility to modern contraceptives

    There is a correlation between the socioeconomic status of an individual and their access to contraception. People from disadvantaged social backgrounds, such as those living in poverty or with little to no education, more frequently get pregnant unintentionally. The issue concerns governments as they do not cover the costs of contraception by including it under national health insurance and fail to sufficiently inform the general public about it. Member States significantly differ in their reproductive care system policies, as certain countries such as Poland require prescriptions even in cases of emergency contraception. 

    Figure 2: Contraception access across Europe 

    Figure 3: Key to read Figure 2

    3. Conscientious objection 

    Conscientious objection is a refusal to render abortion services on the grounds of personal beliefs. In many conservative countries, such as Italy, the majority of healthcare professionals are objectors, thus leaving women no choice but to travel abroad or to turn to private clinics. This disproportionally affects pregnant people of lower socioeconomic status, by leading them to choose medically unsupervised therefore unsafe abortions. 

    Measures in Place

    All Member States have ratified the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) aimed at achieving gender equality in all fields. Article 12 directly addresses reproductive rights, highlighting the necessity to grant accessibility to family planning care. 

    Furthermore, in 2017, UNFPA approved the Strategic Plan 2018-2021, in accordance with the 2030 Sustainable Agenda, urging governments to take action in support of the development of SRHR. 

    In 2021, the European Parliament approved a resolution recognizing sexual and reproductive as fundamental human rights, calling on Member States to remove all legal and practical barriers – that prevent access to abortions. . It sets a turning point addressing Member States’ regression in the battle for reproductive rights. 

    In September 2022, the UNFPA Supplies Partnership received EUR 45 million  from the European Commission, to be distributed over six years. The aim of this funding is to improve the delivery of contraceptives to people from every socioeconomic background in every country. 

    There are concerning disparities between Member States on the topic of SRHR policies, but some countries have adopted reforms that can be considered a huge step in the right direction. For example, Belgium has developed strategies aiming at removing all barriers in terms of reproductive health, including reimbursement for the costs of contraception and counselling.  

    The World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s agency that promotes universal health access, issued a comprehensive abortion care guideline, aiming enable evidence-based decision-making with respect to quality abortion care, which can serve as the basis for national governments to elaborate their policies, recognising women’s fundamental rights. 

    Food for thought

    • What should the EU do to restrain conservative measures adopted in Member States, such as Poland and Hungary?
    • How can the EU ensure the dissemination of unbiased and medically accurate information and encourage the teaching of Comprehensive Sexuality Education within the EU?
    • How should the EU allocate funding directed to the development of healthcare systems and application of SHRH?
    • How could the EU and the Member States ensure access to quality contraception and safe abortions to everyone in need regardless of their socioeconomic situation?
  • LIBE


    Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs

    Chaired by Alice Maffoni (IT)

    About the Chairperson 

    Hi everyone! I’m Alice and I’ll be your chair for this session :)! I’m eighteen and I was born and raised in Milan, Italy. Something you should know about me is that I absolutely love the Dutch caramel waffles (stroopwafels I think – the Dutch language and I don’t get along very well), but other than that, I also love live music of every genre and having a good chat with my friends in front of a cup of coffee. However, what I love the most is definitely EYPsessions!! I hope you’ll enjoy EYP as much as I do and that you’ll leave this session with new amazing friends and memories. 

    Can’t wait to meet y’all, 

    Alice xx

    The Topic at a Glance

    48% of Europeans consider discrimination towards transgender people to be widespread in their country. Consequently, most people that identify as transgender, meaning that the gender they attribute to themselves doesn’t coincide with their birth sex, have been targets of harassment and hate crimes. Despite the growing awareness, gender identity or sex characteristics aren’t officially protected in numerous EU Member States. On the contrary, they’re often the object of discrimination, such as the ban on legal recognition for transgender people by the Hungarian Parliament

    Not only it is uncertain in some Member States whether individuals can claim protection from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, but there are significant regional differences in transgender healthcare infrastructures and legal requirements. Due to limited funding, transgender health facilities have closed and diagnostic procedures, that have taken years to secure, have been suspended.  In several countries, such as Belgium, only some specialised gender clinics are qualified to handle gender confirmation treatments such as hormone therapy, surgeries and so on. Most of the time, the requested medical procedures are not even covered by the national health insurance, for instance in Hungary only 10% of the treatment is reimbursed. One of the inevitable consequences of this lack of financial support is the restriction on the right to health, one of the basic human rights. Furthermore, the requirement of surgery, sterilisation1, hormone therapy, and diagnoses of mental disorders as prerequisites for legal gender recognition raises questions about the right of self-determination and well-being of individuals. Not only does this have a severe impact on mental health, but for transgender people, the issue endangers their lives, health, and safety, facing discrimination and rejection from society and feeling obliged to follow treatments established by the law even if self-gender determination is a very personal matter. 

    Trans rights and social justice cannot wait anymore. 

    Figure 1: LGBT rights in the European Union 

    1Sterilisation is a practice that persists in Europe even while being condemned by the UN.


    • Transgenderism encompasses all the people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. While people that identify their gender outside the constructs of ‘male’ and ‘female’ genders are called genderqueer, which is used as an umbrella term that includes all identities that aren’t cisgender2.
    • Transitioning is the time period in which a person begins to live according to their gender identity, and there are no specific steps for it. It’s a very personal matter and it’s not mandatory to be able to identify as transgender. Transitioning may include changing your name, appearance, and pronouns, as well as changing documents and, for some, requesting medical procedures and hormone therapy to make their body reflect their gender identity
    • Sex refers to the various biological and physiological differences between sexes, including reproductive organs, hormonal profiles, and chromosomes. The three main sexes are men, women, and intersex people. 
    • Gender connotes socially constructed gendered features, such as conventions and gender roles. Gender differs from one society to the next and is modifiable.
    • Gender affirmation surgeries are procedures that assist patients in converting to the gender they think themselves to be.

    The European Commission has the power, if necessary, to take legal action against an EU Member State that is not abiding by EU law, by bringing the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.Public health insurance is typically a component of national healthcare systems complemented by private health insurance. The minimal level of care provided frequently varies as a result of ongoing negotiations between the government, therefore, access to the numerous procedures that collectively make up gender confirmation treatment may differ significantly.

    Key Stakeholders

    The European Commission financially supports civil society organisations promoting LGBTIQ rights. Organisations benefitting from direct financial support include the International LGBTQ Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO), the European Region of the International LGBTI Association (ILGA) and Transgender Europe (TGEU). ILGA and TGEU regularly monitor the situation of LGBTQI+, especially trans people in and outside of Europe, collecting publish valuable data on the situation of the queer community. 

    Trans United is a European activist organisation advocating for trans people. Since 2013 Trans United works through media content and social work to improve trans issues awareness and inclusion, such as gender-specific healthcare and HIV prevention for transmen, in the European legislation. 

    An important role in advancing LGBTQI+ rights has also been played by The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) with the 2017 resolution

    The European Commission has the power, if necessary, to take legal action against an EU Member State that is not abiding by EU law, by bringing the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

    Public health insurance is typically a component of national healthcare systems complemented by private health insurance. The minimal level of care provided frequently varies as a result of ongoing negotiations between the government, therefore, access to the numerous procedures that collectively make up gender confirmation treatment may differ significantly.

    2Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity corresponds to the sex assigned at birth.

    Key Conflicts

    1. Mandatory mental health diagnosis as a human right violation 

    In countries such as Italy, Germany, and Spain, insurance companies require trans people to obtain a mental health diagnosis3 to gain coverage for the healthcare services they demand. The TGEU and other human rights organisations have consistently criticised pathologising4 transgender identities as a violation of the human rights and dignity of trans people. Because of the need for a mental diagnosis for insurance coverage, insurance providers and physicians hold the deciding power over whether a trans person will have access to quality care. 

    Figure 2: Trans Rights Europe & Central Asia Map & Index 2019 – TGEU

    2. Healthcare Funding 

    While the majority of nations provide a complete range of therapies, some, like Latvia and Bulgaria, have almost none. In addition, the shortage of funding for public healthcare frequently makes the access to healthcare difficult, even if should be universally guaranteed5. Furthermore, financing, when it is provided, is typically limited to what are referred to as ‘essential treatments’, which could be objects of subjectiveness, considering the personal value they hold for everyone. For instance, sex reassignment surgery in Croatia is classified as an ‘aesthetic’ treatment and is not eligible for funding. 

    3. Conscientious Objection

    The right to conscious objection, derived from the right of freedom of conscience,  states that healthcare professionals, as individuals, can refuse to provide certain services, such as hormone therapy, if they are against their personal beliefs. However, the right to consciously object may limit another person’s freedom, right to health, and autonomy. The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) stated that every healthcare provider has the professional duty to not discriminate against people’s requested surgeries on the basis of personal beliefs. However, professionals have pointed out how even their personal convictions should not be limited by the law creating an issue of competency that still has to be resolved.

    3Mental health diagnosis is done to analyse a mental disorder which is a clinically diagnosed disturbance in someone’s behaviour, mental awareness, and management.

    4 In many countries, transsexualism and transgenderism are considered mental illnesses under the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, the feeling of uneasiness that someone could experience as a result of their biological sex and gender identity not matching.

    5The right to health is a fundamental human right that does not allow any discrimination of ethnicity, religion, political belief and economic or social conditions

    Measures in Place

    The European Commission’s priority is ensuring legal protection and monitoring the existing rights of the LGBTI community. The prohibition of sexual orientation discrimination and the principle of ensuring equality for everyone has an extensive legal basis in the EU Treaties such as the tenth article of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and the second and third articles of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Furthermore, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU was the first international human rights charter to recognise and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

    However, the EU legislation does not explicitly forbid discrimination based on transgenderism. The vast case law of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), which developed a concept of sex discrimination covering those who have undergone sex reassignment, supports such an approach. Despite the fact that this form of prejudice is seen as a discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in some Member States, in many other countries transgender people are limited to relying on the general principle of equality and are not eligible for the more comprehensive protection provided by anti-discrimination directives.

    In addition, the European Parliament called upon the Member States to defend transgender people’s right to self-determination and to abolish the sterilisation requirement in legal gender recognition procedures. 

    The European Court of Human Rights determined that the sterilisation requirement in legal gender recognition, such as the one required by France, violates human rights. Nonetheless, trans people remain subject to mandatory mental health diagnoses which, according to TGEU’s Executive Director,  represents a violation of human rights because of the subtle implication that trans people are mentally ill, promoting social exclusion and discrimination. 

    Figure 3: Trans rights in Europe and Central Asia 2017 

    Food for thought

    • How can the EU guarantee free access to gender affirmation surgeries in all Member States?
    • How can the EU guarantee safety and recognition to the ones that identify as transgender even without medical surgeries?
    • In which way can the EU make its Member States more inclusive and cohesive towards transgender people?
    • What limits should the law hold against the right of conscious objection?
  • JURI


    Committee on Legal Affairs

    Chaired by Izzy van Bemmel (NL)

    About the Chairperson

    Hello, my name is Izzy, I am from Amsterdam, Netherlands and I love EYP. I have recently finished  my last session as a delegate, and will now continue my journey within EYP as (hopefully your) chair at Haarlem. As I love international politics and diplomacy, I look forward to learning more about our topic together and am confident we will find a solution. But most of all I am excited to meet you all and introduce you to the wonderful organisation of EYP, as this will be the first session for most of you. Until then!

    The Topic at a Glance

    In order for the European Union (EU) to function properly, it is required that all member states operate under the same, or at least similar set of values. Only if these values are respected in all member states can the EU undertake unilateral action and achieve other goals, while respecting democracy and rights of EU citizens.

    The values of the EU are agreed upon under Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union: ‘The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.’

    However, the values stated above are, while agreed upon by all, not always respected by every member state. With the rising cost of living and the current energy crisis, many of the citizens across the EU are growing dissatisfied with the, in their eyes failing, liberal EU. Due to this, far-right leaders like Meloni are on the rise as they are seen as the answer in their opposition to the governments of the last decade.

    Questions were already arising around this issue with the more and more open criticism of the EU by countries such as Hungary and Poland. However, with similar leaders in countries such as Italy, Sweden and France gaining popularity, this issue is becoming more and more pressing. The leaders of these movements are taking firm stands against the current EU measures surrounding the war in Ukraine and the economic crisis. Criticism which may prove harmful to these vital measures, since they require unilateral action to be most effective. It is therefore most urgent that these incursions upon the EU values are dealt with swiftly, to protect democracy and the European Union.

    Key terms

    • Rule of Law is one of the values stated in Art. 2.  The European Commission defines it as follows; ‘Rule of law guarantees fundamental rights and values, allows the application of EU law, and supports an investment-friendly business environment. It is one of the fundamental values upon which the EU is based on.’ In practice, this means that all laws should apply to all individuals and organisations. Every year a report on the quality of rule of law in every member state is released, according to four pillars; the justice system, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism, and other institutional issues related to checks and balances.
    • The rule of law mechanism refers to the entire process of checking and reinforcing the rule of law in all EU member states.
    • Populism is the appeal to the common people. With the recent crises in and around the EU, many feel their voices fall on deaf ears. Populist leaders grow in popularity in the face of this dissatisfaction as they, sometimes falsely, point out the EU as the cause of all these problems and pose themselves as the solution.
    • Misinformation is often a key-factor in the rise of far-right movements. Conspiracy theories for example, often promote the far-right as the answer to the often already debunked problem they deal with.
    • Article 7 dictates the course of action to be followed in the case of large breaks in the rule of law in any member state. Art. 7 can be invoked by both the European Parliament and the European Commission, and is carried out by the European Council. The European Council will hold a vote on any measure, which may include, but is not limited to, the suspension of the voting rights of a member state, if the vote is unanimously agreed upon, it is carried out.
      This poses a problem, since multiple member states are in a position where art. 7 can be invoked, causing them to block the vote for art. 7 for each other.
    • The cohesion fund is a fund to encourage economic infrastructure and growth in the lesser developed countries of the EU. It was already ruled that Poland and Hungary would be excluded from them, which has crippled their economies. Other countries with nativist movements on the rise however, like Italy and Sweden, are not included in the cohesion fund and therefore are not as dependent on the EU for their economy, making drastic anti-EU action more accessible to them.

    Key Stakeholders

    Far-right movements advocate politics further to the right than typical movements and parties on the right. These movements typically place high value on nativism and ultra-nationalism, which interferes with the unilateral, international objectives of the EU. Most of these stakeholders are also typically uninclusive to LGBTQIA+ people and religious and ethnical diversity, which is contradictory to the values of the EU as stated in Art. 2. Far-right leaders often make use of populist strategies to promote their aims. We see these parties already ruling in Poland, Hungary and now Italy, while gaining power in countries like Sweden and France.

    It is the task of the European Commission to review the current state of rule of law and produce the annual rule of law report. They then, following the procedure of the rule of law mechanism, discuss this report with the European Council and the European Parliament. If the European Commission finds an emerging threat to the rule of law, they can invoke the rule of law framework.

    The European Court of Justice is tasked with the moderation of EU member states, and can impose restrictions when these member states act in a way that does not align with European law.

    Key Conflicts

    EU unity VS Sovereignty of individual states

    The leaders of the movements which oppose the EU often call upon their sovereignty, and that they should operate for the citizens of their countries. This nativist view often gains most popularity during times of economic crisis. However, all member states have agreed on the binding treaty of european unity, these treaties bind member states to a commitment towards all EU citizens, and therefore opposition of these nativists often argue it is not a choice to cooperate with the EU. 

    Freedom of expression VS Protection against misinformation

    Often nativist movements ground their anti-EU views in misconceptions and misinformation about the EU. For example, during the Brexit referendum it was argued that the EU was harming British trade, while studies from both before and after Brexit showed the opposite. These misconceptions and -informations are seen by many as an obstacle to rule of law and democracy. But at the same time, according to art. 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights every EU citizen has the right to freedom of expression. The writing even includes the following statement: ‘This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.’ It is often argued therefore the EU has no right to interfere with the flow of information in the political process.

    Punishment of wrongdoing governments VS Protection of all citizens

    Since member states are breaking the European laws, it is seen as logical to punish these nations for it. This is currently being done by the withholding of funding to Poland and Hungary during this time of crisis. However, this is causing crisis and a decline in economic wellbeing for a lot of citizens which do not support these governments. Others therefor argue a different route should be taken to fight these governments. 

    Current measures

    The rule of law framework is a framework of experts assembled by order of the European Commission with the task of protecting rule of law in member states. They do this according to three phases. The framework will first assess the current state of rule of law and inform the European Commission, then they will make recommendations to both the commission and the member states in question to restore the rule of law, once these recommendations are made they will monitor their implementation and report to the European Commission. The goal of the framework is to prevent threats from growing to a level where Art. 7 has to be invoked.

    Countries with prevalent anti-EU movements are, as mentioned before, often most affected by economic downfall. These countries are therefore also the countries most dependent on EU financial aid. It was already ruled in February 2022 that Poland and Hungary would loose access to over €36 billion of funding, and be possibly left out of further recovery aid. This has however only been used by the leaders of these countries to instigate further mistrust and hate towards the EU, which according to them is suppressing the political discourse of Poland and Hungary. Critics also argue that since Poland and Hungary are still receiving other EU funding, this will not sway them off-course and more economic action needs to be taken.

    The European Commission has already undertaken a media campaign during the COVID crisis to avoid misinformation, but has not yet tried to tackle any other big initiatives.

    Food for thought

    • How can the EU find a way to tackle these problems without enacting article 7?
    • Should the EU condemn populist and nativist leaders for their counter-productive rhetoric, or is this not the place of the EU?
    • How can the EU combat misinformation as a non-state actor without any direct control over the platforms on which this misinformation is spread?
    • How can the EU promote EU values to citizens in a state which suppresses them?
    • How can the EU reinforce EU values to newly nativist countries like Italy?
  • ENVI


    Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

    Chaired by Zia Glasenhart (AT)

    About the Chairperson 

    Hi, my name is Zia and I’ll be your chair for this amazing session! I’m currently in my last year of a higher technical college with a focus on Cyber Security. I love cryptography, photography, reading and volleyball – also do you wanna know a little fun fact about me? I absolutely adore coffee and probably by now have more coffee in my body than blood (which is why my best friend refuses to give me some when I’m staying at her place xd) 

    I joined EYP around two years ago and absolutely love it, which is why  I hope that you’ll love it just as much and leave the session with a smile on your face, many new friends and amazing memories <3 

    The Topic at a Glance

    Figure 1: Sources of microplastics, release routes and sinks

    Over the last century 14 million tonnes of microplastics have accumulated on the world’s ocean floor as large pieces of dumped plastic began to slowly decompose due to sunlight or oxidation, creating small pieces of microplastic that are less than 5 mm in diameter. Additionally,  1.5 million tonnes of microplastics enter the ocean every year. This led to almost every body of water nowadays containing microplastics. However, there is not only evidence for microplastics found in the environment, but they have also been found in human bodies, including in human placentas

    Microplastics can enter our body when inhaled, absorbed through the skin and of course ingested with water and food. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have both stated that there is clear evidence of health risks. Microplastics can lead to serious health hazards as they contain  harmful additives, some of which are associated with cancer or endocrine disruption1. Furthermore, they can pose a serious threat to animals’ health due to the microplastics entering their digestive systems and respiratory tracts leading to consequences ranging from impaired reproduction to death. However, both organisations agree that the long-term effects are not fully understood yet. 

    Some of these microplastics are even manufactured on purpose because they are used in household products, such as cleaners, polishes, cosmetics and paints. According to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), each year around 145 000 tonnes of these so-called primary microplastics are deliberately produced in Europe alone. In total, there are approximately three million tonnes of primary microplastics released into the environment each year. 

    Next to the primary microplastics are the secondary microplastics, of which between 200 000 and 500 000 tonnes are produced every year. Secondary microplastics emerge either from products through daily use or the breakdown of larger plastic items in the environment. Examples of how they are formed would be by abrasion of tires or washing synthetic textiles. Around 8% of European microplastics come from synthetic textiles. 

    Figure 2: Release and fates of microplastic fibres from textiles

    1 Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances that interfere with the normal function of your body’s endocrine system leading to endocrine disruption


    • Microplastics are plastic debris that is less than 5 mm and at least 1 micrometre in length. 
    • Primary microplastics are microplastics that are produced on purpose and end up released into the environment. 
    • Secondary microplastics are microplastics that are formed from the breakdown of larger plastic items in the environment.

    Key Stakeholders

    EU citizens, while being exposed to the health hazards of microplastics, are also partially contributing to the problem by choosing not to recycle and purchasing products containing microplastics, such as cosmetics, paint, and clothes made from synthetic textiles. Some of their choices seem to stem from carelessness and negligence, meanwhile others from the lack of awareness of the problem. However, it is not solely their fault, since over the years a system has been established in which everyday products are manufactured in industries that release and produce a lot of microplastics.  

    Most of the Member States have so far failed to put in place the laws and regulations concerning microplastics, let alone act upon them. Thus, governments fail to address the issue of microplastic pollution at its core, exposing citizens to health hazards and endangering industries that rely on clean bodies of water such as the fishing industry. Considering that the sewage systems are usually state-owned or subsidised by the governments, they have the legal competence to take action in these sectors. 

    Various companies and manufacturers are also perpetuating the problem. From fast fashion clothing brands that produce low-quality synthetic items that are quickly disposed of to cosmetics brands that use microplastics in their products, they all contribute to the microplastic burden on the waterways.

    The European Environmental Agency (EEA), an agency of the European Union that is responsible for providing independent scientific information on the environment, published a report earlier this year outlining the dangers of microplastics.

    The European Recycling Industries Confederation (EuRIC) represents the interests of the European recycling industries at the EU level. It ensures competitive European recycling by incentivising recycling, minimising regulatory burdens and guaranteeing open and fair competition.  
    Since the European Commission is the executive part of the European Union, it can propose  legislation concerning the use of microplastics. It announced a new initiative which aims to capture the capture of microplastics, measuring the unintentional release of microplastic and further research on the topic. In addition, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment (DG ENV) has announced that it intends to address microplastics globally and not only those affected by the deliberate addition restriction. Also it commissioned a study to identify policy options which could reduce unintentional releases of microplastics.

    Key conflicts

    Harm to human beings

    Some microplastics can be harmful due to the toxic nature of the contaminants that accumulate on plastic particles2. A recent study has found that an average person ingests around 5 grams of microplastics per week, which is equivalent to one credit card by weight. Some of the earlier-mentioned chemicals are not only associated with cancer, but also with mutations to DNA or endocrine disruption. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals interfere with the endocrine system and therefore affect the functioning of organs. However, up to today there have been very little studies made on the hazardous effects microplastics have on the human body. This has led to various institutions having different views on the topic, but agreeing that more research needs to be done. 

    2  For example, these contaminants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), organochlorine pesticides, trace metals or pathogens at high concentrations that leak from plastic particles as they decompose.

    Figure 3: Estimated microplastics ingested through consumption of common foods and beverages

    Harm to animals

    Animals that have ingested microplastics and the  toxins that go with them have been shown to have damaged reproduction and compromised immune systems. It has also been observed that animals become entangled in plastic that is dumped into the sea, which can lead to serious injury or even death, before they later erode to microplastics. If for example a microplastic is ingested, it can block the gastrointestinal tracts, which leads to the animal losing their sense of hunger. Research, in which 50 different kinds of marine animals were examined, pointed out that every single one contained microplastic. However, researchers also agree that the impact of microplastics on animals’ health has not been fully researched and too little is known. Furthermore, researchers have stated that plastic is not the root of the problem, but that we got used to the single-use lifestyle that has been formed over the last decades. 

    Environmental hazards

    Moreover, when farmers use sewage sludge to fertilise crops, microplastics are released into the environment and the microplastics can therefore end up in the food chain. Furthermore, it has been shown that wastewater-treatment plants are unable to remove microplastics completely, which leads to them polluting rivers, lakes, and the ocean. However, some papers indicated that the true effects of microplastics in our environment have not been proven yet. While there are clear indicators that some contain toxins, they also state that some are ‘mismatched’ in the sense of microplastics measured in the environment to those tested for effects in the laboratory. 

    Lack of incentives in the industry

    Fast fashion, due to its low quality,  wears off quickly, which leads to it being thrown away and over time turning into secondary microplastics. Furthermore, fast fashion is comparatively cheap, since its production often includes exploitation and mistreatment of the workers, which leads to more people buying at its cheap price.

    Measures in Place

    In 2018, the European Commission adopted the Plastics Strategy, which aims to make recycling profitable for businesses by taking further measures on single-use plastics products and the release of microplastics into the environment and spurring innovation and investment in plastic recycling.

    Furthermore, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) proposed in 2019 to restrict intentionally added microplastics in products, like cosmetics or fertilisers, which are subsequently released into the environment. However, the proposal has not yet been passed. 

    In 2020, the Circular Economy Action Plan, which is a vital part of the European Green Deal, was adopted by the European Commission. It produced economic incentives to produce more reparable, recyclable and biodegradable product designs. Doing so creates guidance on better plastic waste management and intensified monitoring of each country’s progress. Furthermore, it allocated funds for more research on the harm of microplastic pollution. 

    Furthermore, the Chemicals strategy was adopted by the European Commission in 2020, which enforces the phase-out of harmful substances such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)3 being added into cosmetics and plastic food packaging and boosted the innovative capacity for safer and more sustainable materials. 

    In 2021, the Directive on Single-Use Plastics came into effect. It states that if sustainable and affordable plastics are available, single-use plastics cannot be sold. Examples include cotton bud sticks, food containers, plastic bags, and cutlery. Furthermore, it applies to all products that are made out of oxo-degradable plastic4

    Also in 2021, the Zero Pollution Action Plan was introduced, which promises to reduce plastic litter at sea by 50% and microplastics that are released into the environment by 30% by 2050. It is aimed to be achieved by strengthening economic leadership and monitoring the microplastic waste situation.  

    3Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals, currently including 4700 substances, that are  widely used in industry and consumer products and remain in the environment for a long time

    4 Oxo-degradable plastics are made from plastics plus certain additives, to mimic biodegradation. However, they are just facilitating fragmentation of the materials, leading to not completely degrading but breaking down into small fragments instead

    Food for thought

    • How can the EU deploy its political or economic leverage to encourage the reduction in the usage of plastic across the world? ? 
    • What is the most effective way to educate the EU citizens about the dangers of microplastic pollution and the most effective ways to act on the individual level in order to mitigate this problem?
    • Considering a lot of secondary microplastic is produced in fast fashion, what should the EU do to tackle this issue?

    Microplastics All Around Us, TED talk about the dangers of microplastics, 2022, by Dr. Jesse Meiler

  • DROI


    Committee on Human Rights

    Chaired by Nadia Schnider (CH)

    The Topic at a Glance

    Since the 19th century, institutions and asylums have been the primary model of care for people with mental disabilities. For a long time, institutionalisation was deemed the best way to care for people with disabilities and it remains a heavily relied upon tool to this day. Over a million people with mental disabilities were living in institutions in the EU as of 2007. However, research has shown that institutionalised care often leads to worsened conditions of patients due to the less personalised style of the care, social isolation as well as possible abuse and neglect. Especially compared to community-based care models, the adverse effect of institutions on inhabitants is blatant. Moreover,  it is noteworthy that across Europe people with mental disabilities are virtually excluded from political participation, meaning that their perspectives are seldom incorporated into the design of new legislature. This is due to the fact that the majority of Member States set being in full possession of legal capacity1 as a deciding criterion for the participation in political processes. For this reason, the voices of people with mental disabilities have not been reflected in laws on institutionalised care in the past, despite being the most strongly affected addressees. Similarly, the loss of legal capacity means that the right to self-determination of people with mental disabilities is restricted when they are placed under guardianship2. As a result, decisions regarding care but also other areas of life such as the pursuit of a job, free movement, economic participation and romantic relationships are decided by the guardian in place of their ward3. Considering the adverse effects of institutionalised care and the political exclusion of people with mental disabilities, what can the EU do to guarantee that all models of care respect human rights? 

    Legal capacity is defined as the ability of a person to be the bearer of rights, such as political rights or the right to self-determination, and obligations. This is commonly based on having reached adulthood and being competent to judge matters of everyday life.

    2 Guardianship is the practice of transferring the agency of people with mental disabilities who don’t possess legal capacity onto another person, oftentimes being a relative or spouse.

    3 People under guardianship are referred to as wards.


    • Invalidity is defined as an incapacity to work because of prolonged illness or disability. In order to offset the loss of income due to invalidity, affected persons receive invalidity and disability benefits. Among Member States there is no unified approach but two calculation methods  for invalidity relief are currently in use, commonly referred to as type A and type B legislation.
    • Discrimination is the unjustified unequal and disadvantageous treatment of groups or individuals on the basis of a sensitive criterium4 such as disability, and it is prohibited by Article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
    • Institutionalisation refers to the practice of placing mental illness patients and persons with mental disabilities in asylums and similar closed institutions, where they are subjected to around-the-clock surveillance and care, and live separated from the rest of society.
    • Community-based care represents the opposite of institutionalisation, wherein patients and persons with disabilities remain located and receive care within their communities and families.

    4 Sensitive criteria are characteristics of humans that have been consistently linked to victims of discriminatory treatment. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights lists sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political opinion, national minority, property, birth, disability, age and sexual orientation as relevant sensitive criteria.

    Key Stakeholders

    The European Commission is the executive body of the EU responsible for developing and implementing policy based on the decisions of the European Parliament. The Commission is organised in departments for different policy areas, the Directorates-General. For instance, the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) has the leading competence on creating policy concerning the social and economic integration of people with disabilities.

    The Council of Europe (CoE) is a human rights group which states can join by signing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Council counts 46 members, including all 27 EU Member States. In case of violations of the Convention, the European Court of Human Rights may be called upon by citizens in order to condemn the injustices. However, it is important to note that the CoE and European Court of Human Rights are independent from EU institutions while Member States are obligated to abide by the contents of the ECHR as signatories.
    The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is a politically independent centre of reference, working to promote and uphold high standards of human rights in the EU with special attention to discrimination on the basis of age, disability and ethnic background,

    and access to the judicial system. The FRA works by compiling relevant information into comprehensive databases and by advising stakeholders including EU institutions, Member States and the Council of Europe.

    The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) is a coalition of stakeholders in the field of mental disabilities ranging from people with disabilities and their families to service providers, advocating for a shift from institutionalisation to community-based care models. The EEG is relied upon by the Member States for sharing expertise, advising on new policies and offering training seminars.

    Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are non-profit organisations that operate independently from governments and are typically dedicated to furthering a certain cause. Noteworthy NGOs in the field of mental disability are the European Disability Forum, Mental Health EuropeInclusion Europe and the Validity Foundation.

    Key Conflicts

    A New Model of Care

    In the 19th century, residential institutions were established with the aim of providing people with mental disabilities with food, shelter and professional care. However, evidence has shown that long term institutionalisation has an adverse effect on residents’ well-being. Social isolation from communities and families has especially been linked to negative effects on patients’ development and happiness, which was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to this, the European Commission has identified Deinstitutionalisation as an aim in its inclusion policy. However, the transition to community-based care is not an easy one. Family and community members of people with mental disabilities do oftentimes not possess the knowledge a caretaker in an institution has. Furthermore, the full time care of family members can cause considerable amounts of distress. Not to be forgotten, full time care of a disabled family member has been linked to a shift towards “traditional” gender roles, with the majority of community care work being done by women, and often unpaid.

    Equal rights

    As stated by Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Article  14 of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, people with disabilities have equal rights as the rest of the population and are protected from discrimination. These guarantees of non-discrimination are binding to all EU Member States. However, this protection from discrimination is only theoretical at times, seeing as people with mental disabilities do not possess the legal capacity necessary to assert their rights before a court of justice, while the pursuit of legal action against discrimination mostly lies with the guardian. Furthermore, the enactment of other rights and freedom are also tied to the possession of legal capacity, such as political participation and the right of self-determination in matters such as place of residence or the pursuit of romantic relationships and family. Moreover it is noteworthy that wards who do not possess legal capacity have little to no legal instrument to appeal against a decision of their guardian.

    Social and Economic Exclusion

    The institutionalisation of people with mental disabilities causes a social exclusion of this group through their physical separation from society. While the EU has been taking strides towards deinstitutionalising care for people with mental disabilities, thus takingly the physical exclusion, other barriers to inclusion still prevail. Stigma and prejudice against mental illnesses and disabilities shape aspects of everyday life from the negative attitude of the general public to the maltreatment and discrimination of people with mental disabilities. Furthermore, people with disabilities are among the least integrated groups when it comes to employment. This is largely due to fewer opportunities to attain academic qualifications and vocational training, prejudice and barriers in the employment structure such as inflexible working hours.

    Measures in Place

    The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  (UNCRPD) is an international treaty signed by all EU Member States, aiming to promote, protect and ensure the rights of people with disabilities. However, the Convention is not directly applicable in most signatory states until it is ratified by national parliaments and integrated into Member States’ respective legislatures.Similarly, the European Convention on Human Rights is a human rights treaty signed by all EU Member States. Most fundamentally, the Convention aims to protect people with mental disabilities as Article 14 prohibits the governments from  discriminating against humans on the basis of disability. 

    The European Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 is the strategy with which the EU aims to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy their human rights and receive equal opportunities for social and economic participation. The strategy focuses on fighting discrimination, de-institutionalisation and increasing the accessability of justice, education, culture, tourism and sport. 

    In the EU Funds Checklist issued in 2021, the EU identifies the promotion of community-based care as a main objective. Through this, programmes aimed at de-institutionalisation and improving community based care can apply for financial assistance from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+).

    The European Commission launched a pilot programme for the introduction of a universally recognised EU Disability Card with eight Member States in 2016. Following the immense success of the pilot programme, the Commission intends to introduce the widespread use of the disability card for use in the areas of culture, leisure, sport and transport by the end of 2023.

    Figure 1: An infographic by the FRA summarising the EU’s strategy for the enactment of the UN’s Disability Convention.

    Food for thought

    • Considering the European Commission’s aim of largely deinstitutionalising care for people with mental disabilities, what can the EU do to ensure appropriate standards of care are met?
    • Keeping in mind the loss of legal capacity many people with mental disabilities face, how can the EU ensure their rights are being respected and protected?
  • DEVE


    Committee on Development

    Chaired by Simon Hoch (DE)

    About the Chairperson

    Hi everyone! I am Simon from the beautiful city of Hamburg in Germany and am super excited to be your chair for this amazing session! I have recently started dual studies in business engineering in Hamburg and have many other interests, including my love for music. I want to make this session an amazing event for every single one of you and I hope you will be able to feel the magic of EYP after this session. See you soon!

    The Topic at a Glance

    According to the United Nations, Europe’s level of urbanisation is expected to rise from the current 75% to over 83% by 2050. With cities accounting for more than 70% of global emissions and welfare and citizens’ quality of life becoming more of a topic of concern, the way cities are developed in the future is critical. The European Union aims to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 and become carbon-neutral by 2050. Cities will be at the centre of that transformation. 

    Cities have traditionally been built to accommodate cars and other personal transport, but as we enter a new day and age, those paradigms are shifting. Ideas like the 15-Minute-City have gained traction, which is designed to enable citizens to reach all their necessities within 15 minutes of their place of residence, either by walking or cycling. Designing a citizen-centred city is a crucial new approach which comes with many challenges, as the environmental, economic, social, and cultural situation needs to be taken into consideration. 

    Yet, there are many burdens, as current urban planning policy fails to meet the urgent need for change and lacks the necessary instruments. Funds are available for integrated sustainable urban development, but they are insufficient for the change needed in today’s time. As Europe’s historic cities all have different needs, individual solutions for each city need to be developed, which is possible through empowering local authorities and citizens. 

    The way urban areas are designed going into the future defines how the world will develop in terms of managing climate change by reducing emissions and by improving the quality of life of European citizens. 


    • The 15-Minute-City is a concept popularized by the mayor of Paris, Anna Hidalgo, which imagines a city where all necessities can be reached within 15 minutes of people’s homes. There are different variations to the concept, with the most extreme imagining availability within 15 minutes of walking or cycling, while other concepts include the use of cars or public transport.
    • Carbon offsetting describes the process of ‘neutralising’ carbon emissions by investing in projects that reduce or store carbon, for example by planting trees. Carbon offsets have grown over the years and are becoming a big market. 
    • Carbon neutrality is a state of net-zero CO2 emissions. This can be achieved by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal (often through carbon offsetting) or by eliminating emissions from processes associated with transportation, energy production, agriculture, and industry.
    • Sustainable (urban) development refers to balanced development in the way urban areas carry out their activities, such as resource use and the movement of people and goods. It is a co-evolution of cities’ social and economic dimensions in a way that compromises neither the present nor future well-being of residents.

    Key Stakeholders

    The European Commission is at the heart of deciding the direction sustainable development will take in the coming years, by creating funds and other projects. The Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy lies at the core of these decisions. 
    The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is a fund by the European Union focused on developing economic, social, and territorial cohesion and reducing inequality between

    regions. For the period from 2021-2017, roughly EUR 200 billion have been allocated to this fund, with the majority of it being used for urban development. 

    The European Environmental Agency (EEA) is a European institution tasked with providing the public and Member States with independent information on the environment. It regularly assesses the urban environment in Europe and holds Europe-wide urban data sets, like the Urban Atlas. Additionally, it aims to place the urban environment in the bigger context of citizens’ quality of life. 

    Member States are responsible for providing the local authorities and businesses with enough funding and investment  and making it a focus of their policies in order to make sustainable urban development a possibility. 

    Local authorities, like city governments and municipalities,  have the responsibility to use the funds allocated to them in a useful manner and collect additional funds from the government or other entities to increase available resources. At the same time, keeping the interest of the citizens in mind and creating an urban environment fit for the future is at the heart of their responsibilities. 

    Local businesses are at the heart of the transformation, as they are able to lead the change and design with their resources and investments. 

    City residents are tasked with getting involved in the process of change and making their wishes known and participating in making them a reality. 

    Figure 1: City emissions

    Key Conflicts

    1. Environmental and economical dimension

    A basic principle of a free market economy has always been growth and innovation. This has led to an increased use of resources over time. In the quest of reducing emissions and making the world more eco-friendly, these concepts cannot remain unchanged.  Cities have also been designed to accommodate cars and to make the city’s economy  thrive. In the 21st century, this vision has been heavily challenged by a more environmentally-friendly and citizen-centred approach. Managing the balance between those dimensions is one of the big challenges when considering sustainable urban design. 

    2. Historical city structures and modern concepts

    Creating concepts for a sustainable urban life can often lead to idealistic designs, which do not meet the reality of the situation. European cities are very unique due to their rich history and don’t usually have any systematic design. This makes creating a general scheme or concept for sustainable urban design difficult. Creating a framework for how a modern city should look like while keeping in mind the individual aspects of each European city is a huge challenge.

    3. Urban development in rural areas

    When considering how the places we live should develop in the future, current urban areas are not the only point of consideration. Even with 75% of citizens living in urban areas, 25% still do not, and they do not want to get left behind, as is already often the case. The future lies in cities and urban areas, as the increased rate of urbanisation and the benefits of living in cities show. Hence, rural areas must be developed with the same tools as urban environments, as that will ensure their survival and an improved quality of life. 

    Measures in Place 

    In the period of 2014-2020, more than EUR 115 billion of EDRF resources have been invested in urban areas, with Member States obliged to use at least 5% of their EDRF allocation on integrated sustainable urban development.  This money is used to stimulate investment in research and development, and to support start-ups working in the field of urban development and cutting carbon emissions.
    Additionally, many governments have started giving the citizens and local authorities more power in deciding how they want their city to develop, with the European Union leading the use of such schemes. 

    The European Union’s Cohesion Policy aims to increase unity between countries and regions based on five policy objectives, namely a more competitive, smarter, greener, more connected and more social Europe, which is closer to its citizens. It has been in place for eight years now and has recently been strengthened in order to improve urban development and include weighted climate and environmental contribution of investment, minimum targets for funds and climate adjustment mechanisms.  Still, it is not focused on urban development, but a general development fund. Poland, for example, recently had the largest Cohesion Policy programme ever approved. The country will receive EUR 24 billion, of which around half will be from the EDRF, and the rest will be for free use. 

    Other measures already in place include a new European Urban Initiative that will finance innovative actions to experiment and develop transferable and scalable innovative solutions to urban challenges, as well as an Urban Agenda for the EU that is being developed as an integrated and coordinated approach to urban development and legislation. It focuses on concrete priority themes, in order to ensure effective partnerships and urban development around Europe. Within those partnerships, urban problems are discovered and solutions developed. 

    A further measure is the International Urban and Regional Cooperation (IURC) programme which was launched in 2016, aimed at promoting international urban cooperation. A second phase launched in 2021 extends the programme to additional countries and local authorities. URBACT, a European exchange and learning programme, enables cities to work together to develop new pragmatic, innovative and sustainable solutions through transnational networks and knowledge-sharing activities.

    Figure 2: Sources of European CO2 emissions

    Food for thought

    • How can the general public be involved in creating an urban environment that suits their needs?
    • How can funding be directed more effectively to the places it is actually needed?
    • Should there be a more central approach to urban development in the European Union or should most power in decision-making lie with the local authorities?