The European Union has 28, soon to be 27, Member States. It is a supranational organisation with the ability to create legislation which all members must obey. It is the primary platform for European cooperation. Knowledge of the specific details of how the EU functions is not directly relevant for most of our topics. Instead, this section will cover the actions the main EU institutions can take.
European Council – Setting the strategy Role: Defines the EU’s general political direction and priorities; Members: Heads of state or government from each member state, the president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission; Actions you can ask the European Council to take:
Decide on the direction for the EU and EU foreign policy;
Ask the European Commission to initiate proposals for legislation.
European Parliament – The voice of the people Role: Directly elected legislative arm of the EU; Members: 751 directly elected members; Actions you can ask the European Parliament to take:
Amend and adopts the proposed legislative acts;
Supervise other institutions;
Ask the European Commission to propose legislation;
Debate on international agreements.
European Commission – Promoting the common interest Role: Executive arm of the EU that proposes laws, policies agreements and promotes the Union’s general interests; it is the political leadership of the Union; Members: College of Commissioners, one from each member state – each commissioner is assigned a specific policy area; Actions you can ask the European Commission to take:
Propose legislation to Parliament and the Council;
Represent the EU internationally;
Negotiate international agreements;
Implement EU policies.
Council of the European Union – The voice of the member states Role: Deciding on policies and adopting legislation, coordinating actions among the member states; Members: Government representatives on a ministerial level from each member state;
Actions you can ask the Council of the European Union to take:
Pass legislation together with the Parliament;
Coordinate actions among the member states;
Conclude international agreements.
Competences of the European Union In some policy areas, the EU has exclusive competence, which means that decisions are taken at EU level. In other policy areas, there is shared competence between the Union and the member states. This means that if legislation is passed at EU level, then these laws have priority. If no legislation is adopted at EU level, then the individual member states may legislate at national level. Note that there is often a nuance in the overlap between these. For example, although fisheries is a shared competence, the conservation of fisheries is an exclusive competence. In all other policy areas, the decisions remain with the member states.
You can talk with your committee in the discord voice call while you’re in the zoom call.
If you want to make a point, tell your chair. They will “raise their hand” on zoom. Once the (vice)president tells your committee to speak, unmute yourself. You may then speak.
If you want to use a direct response to a point made, tell your chair (via the voice channel on discord). He will inform the (vice)president. A Direct Response should refer to the core of the last point made and not just be on the same topic. The Direct Response can only be raised two times per round of debate. If a Direct Response is misused, it still counts as used.
There is no dress code for the event, we encourage everyone to wear whatever makes them feel comfortable and confident!
The Chair of the General Assembly reads out the topic
A representative of the proposing Committee delivers a defence speech from the “podium” for a maximum of three minutes
Two delegates from other Committees deliver position speeches from the “podium” for a maximum of 1.5 minutes each
A representative of the proposing Committee responds to the position speeches from the “floor” for a maximum of two minutes
The open debate begins
The first round begins with up to six points from other Committees from the “floor” for a maximum of forty-five seconds per point
A representative of the proposing Committee responds to the first round from the “floor” for a maximum of two minutes
The second round begins with up to six points from other Committees from the floor for a maximum of forty-five seconds per point
A representative of the proposing Committee responds to the second round from the “floor” for a maximum of two minutes
The third round begins with up to six points from other Committees from the floor for a maximum of forty-five seconds per point
A representative of the proposing Committee responds to the third round from the floor for a maximum of two minutes
The fourth round begins with up to six points from other Committees from the floor for a maximum of forty-five seconds per point
A representative of the proposing Committee responds to the fourth round from the floor for a maximum of two minutes
One or two representatives of the proposing Committee delivers the summation speechfrom the podium for a maximum of three minutes
There is a one minute break to confer for voting purposes
All delegates submit their vote for the resolution
The Chair of the General Assembly announces the results of the vote
Open answers on the procedure:
GA will primarily be held on zoom. Everyone will join the zoom call
Chairs and delegates can communicate on discord voice or written channels, while being muted on the zoom call
Getting point during open debate etc, is done by the chair raising their hand on zoom on behalf of the committee
Everyone is able to unmute themselves to speak
It’s encouraged to have your camera on, especially when delivering speeches and points
Direct responses will be done via chat directly to the board member in charge of logistics
Votes are counted by chairs speaking up and the total is announced by the board
This speech is used by the proposing committee to explain the proposed resolution. It is used to explain the underlying goals and motives of the committee and to show how the current resolution is an efficient way to reach those goals. It is more factual and logical than emotional.
After the defence speech, two committees will be recognised to deliver one position speech each. One of these will be in favour, and one against the proposed resolution. The speeches should support/disagree with the goals of the committee and/or the general direction of the resolution. They should not consist of a list of points.
The summation speech will consist of two main parts delivered by a member of the proposing committee. The first speaker will summarise the debate, while the rest of the time will be used to convince the Assembly to vote in favour of the proposed resolution.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON INDUSTRY, RESEARCH AND ENERGY
A fashion forward approach: With the EU’s 2019-adopted Circular Economy Package in mind, how can the EU ensure a competitive yet resource-efficient development of the fashion industry in Europe, working towards sustainable consumption patterns?
Asks the European Commission to propose higher environmental standards for the production of garments sold in the EU;
Further asks the European Commission to oversee that these standards are followed in the countries where the clothes are manufactured;
Suggests the European Commission to subsidise companies who wish to switch to a production model that uses environment-friendly fibres, such as bio cotton or manmade cellulosics;
Invites Member States to create Special Economic Zones (SEZ)[efn_note]A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a geographical area in which economic regulations differ from the rest of the country. They are usually used to attract foreign investment and/or foster production.[/efn_note] in their national territories in order to shorten companies’ supply chain and decrease CO2 emissions;
Further suggests the European Commission to subsidise fashion companies’ transition to more sustainable business models;
Urges fashion companies to be more transparent regarding their supply chain;
Strongly recommends the European Commission to establish an eco-labelling system detailing the garments’ environmental footprint;
Endorses the European Commission to financially support more environmental-friendly clothing products and companies;
Recommends the European Commission to set higher standards for the quality of garments;
Reusing and Recycling
Further invites the European Commission to support the implementation of the Just-in-Time principle[efn_note]The Just-in-Time principle is an inventory system that aligns raw material orders with production schedules, ensuring that companies only receive the goods as they need them for production. This management strategy increases efficiency and reduces waste.[/efn_note] to reduce overproduction;
Calls upon the European Commission to propose legislation on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)[efn_note]Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach in which producers and importers are made responsible for recollecting and reusing garments.[/efn_note];
Encourages Member States to inform the public through a social media campaign about the perks of recycling and reusing, incentivising it to donate or re-sell their garments;
Requests the European Commission to invest in research and development of upcycling methods.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS AND HOME AFFAIRS 1
A free space for all: With social media platforms becoming a breeding ground for the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories online, influencing the offline, is there a new need for censorship? Should digital discourse remain a place of complete freedom of speech or is there a responsibility to be taken up by tech companies themselves or the EU?
Submitted by: Costanza Emanuele (IT), Eylül Eren (TR), Benthe Hauzendorfer (NL), Storm Kamerbeek (NL), Annahita Koot (NL), Piet Pankratz (NL), Charlotte Rutte (NL), Tiemen Tolsma (NL), Tatum van Dijk (NL), Paula Vermaas (NL), Maud Wood (NL), Jochem Zandbergen (NL), Gabriele Rimkute (Chairperson IE)
The European Youth Parliament,
Concerned by misinformation[efn_note]Misinformation is false information that is released regardless of the intent to mislead.[/efn_note] and disinformation[efn_note]Disinformation is misleading information that is spread for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public and may cause public harm.[/efn_note] in media,
Further concerned by the problems arising from the ambiguous difference between the terms misinformation and disinformation,
Further noting with regret the lack of awareness amongst governmental experts regarding the difference between misinformation and disinformation,
Deeply concerned by the influence fake news has on citizens’ decision-making process, especially in times of crisis, such as during the Covid-19 pandemic,
Acknowledging the delicate balance between eliminating fake news and infringing citizens’ right to freedom of expression,
Realising that social media censorship can become unreliable and biased when unregulated,
Taking into account the influence of filter bubbles[efn_note]Filter bubbles refer to a state of intellectual isolation that can result from personalized searches when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user.[/efn_note] on social media users,
Requests Member States to introduce age-appropriate social media education[efn_note]An age appropriate social media education would be proposed in a format similar to the ‘Sexuality Education in Europe’ in order to provide comprehensive and centralised resources.[/efn_note] by:
building upon or creating curricula for primary schools,
incorporating such curricula within existing lessons in secondary schools such as computer studies, civic studies and career guidance courses;
Encourages the European Commission to continue funding initiatives such as the European Media Literacy Week[efn_note]The European Media Literacy Week is a new initiative by the European Commission to underline the societal importance of media literacy and promote media literacy initiatives and projects across the EU.[/efn_note];
Further encourages the European Commission to promote educational events, such as the European Media Literacy Week, aimed at educating senior citizens on media literacy;
Suggests Member States improve social media literacy by:
hiring government staff with adequate knowledge,
providing further schooling to existing government staff;
Regulation of Information in Social Media Platforms
Supports the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (AIPCE)[efn_note]The Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe is a network of independent content regulators for both press and broadcast media.[/efn_note] to further regulate the factuality of news posted on social media;
Call upon the European Commission to further build upon the Digital Service Act to create a more unbiased algorithm focusing on regulated information;
Congratulates social media platforms for providing factual sources alongside posts picked up by the algorithm;
Availability of Information
Invites Member States to ensure the accessibility of traditional media[efn_note]Traditional Media is any form of mass communication prior to the Information Age; particularly print media with the opposite being new media.[/efn_note] as a primary source of information;
Calls the European Commission to further expand on data protection regulations[efn_note]The General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the EU and the European Economic Area.[/efn_note] by:
providing opportunities for users to limit the tracking of their online activity,
making information available on the workings of algorithms and active censorship;
Requests Member States to fund non-profit organisations such as Disinfolab to limit the spread of disinformation campaigns.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON SECURITY AND DEFENCE
As warfare moves online, cybersecurity becomes relevant to our defense and security as a continent. With the reliability of cryptography being challenged by the potential invention of the quantum computer, coupled with the increasing threat of hackers, how should the EU proceed to ensure its cyber security?
Submitted by: Quinten Baan (NL), Giada Chessa (IT), Goos Kuijper (NL), Harsh Mishra (NL), Jurgen Pels (NL), Victor Peutz (NL), Ruben Rosaria (NL), Jennah Said (NL), Stella Naudts (Chairperson NL)
The European Youth Parliament,
Alarmed by potential data leaks due to quantum cyberattacks in combination with the lack of potential defense mechanisms,
Noting with deep concern the ever growing risk of the EU being sidelined in the race for quantum supremacy[efn_note]Quantum Supremacy describes a point when the quantum computer has abilities superior to classic computers, it has a clear advantage over the classic computer.[/efn_note],
Concerned that the invention of quantum computers in the future may cause unfair competition between companies,
Deeply disturbed by signs of computer illiteracy amongst legislators and politicians in Member States,
Emphasising the need to ensure and stimulate further cooperation between Member States with regards to:
laying down a Quantum Communication Infrastructure[efn_note]Quantum Communication Infrastructure (QCI) is an infrastructure which protects information and data, by employing the Quantum Key Distribution. The EU is currently investing heavily in the development of a QCI.[/efn_note] in order to stimulate a fully capable Quantum Key Distribution[efn_note]Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a form of encryption which cannot be broken by quantum computers. Furthermore, when the QKD is under attack, a defense mechanism kicks in and the recipient will be alerted immediately to this attempt.[/efn_note] to protect EU citizens,
ways to protect EU citizen data from hackers and other foreign entities,
Aware of the fact that the accelerating progress of the invention of the quantum computer does not currently play a comparative role in legislative decision-making;
Hopes that the European Commissionwill provide ENISA[efn_note]ENISA is the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, which works on EU cybersecurity policies, the trustworthiness of ICT and cooperates with Member States and EU bodies.[/efn_note] and EuroQCI with a more prominent advisory role in decision-making on cybersecurity and quantum cryptography;
Strongly encourages Member States to cooperate with ENISA and EuroQCI on matters such as education of government officials on quantum technology and cybersecurity;
Asks the Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology[efn_note]The Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) is a part of the European Commission which works with the aim of making Europe a global leader in data economy and cybersecurity.[/efn_note] (DG CONNECT) to assess the risks and opportunities of quantum technology in the EU in cooperation with the Council of Europe and relevant non-governmental organisations;
Requests the European Commission to impose financial sanctions on Member States in the case of power abuse regarding unauthorized surveillance of citizens;
Calls upon the European Commision to establish an accord with the USA for exchanging knowledge on quantum computers and the QCI system;
Urges the European Commission to increase funding into the Quantum Technologies Flagship project for development pivotal to quantum infrastructure and communication;
Implores the European Commission to strengthen the ties between Member States’ cybercrime agencies by expanding ENISA;
Strongly urges all Member States to critically evaluate existing cyber security of government appointed organisations holding citizens’ vulnerable data;
Requests Member States to facilitate easy and transparent access to information between European academic institutions regarding quantum technology.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
The Great Hack: In recent years the potential for social media to be used as an instrument for influencing the manipulation of consequential elections has become abundantly clear. How can the EU ensure the integrity of its own and its Member States’ elections whilst keeping in mind the freedom of political parties to advertise and promote themselves?
Submitted by: Matthieu Chiagano (IT), Roya Compier (NL), Yusuf Khalid (NL), Lesley Kwa (NL), Zara Nijzink-Laurie (NL), Christina Sandved (NL), Nynke van der Veer (NL), Hidde van Vloten (NL), FinnVries (NL), Joshua Kramer (Chairperson NL)
The European Youth Parliament,
Noting with regret that political micro-targeting[efn_note]Political micro-targeting is a form of advertising by political parties that involves analyzing individuals’ personal data, and weaponizing that data to tailor advertisements to their individual susceptibilities, effectively manipulating voting behavior.[/efn_note] manipulates voters and creates unfair competition during elections,
Considering that the option to opt-out of data collection becomes unavailable when data is collected anonymously,
Observing the lack of digital awareness due to unclear cookie policies on social media,
Seriously concerned by the lack of transparency on data usage by data analytics and social media companies,
Acknowledging the lack of enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)[efn_note]The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the protection of personal data and enhances digital privacy for people located in the EU.[/efn_note] such as the lack of application and jurisprudence,
Alarmed by the number of political parties that apply micro-targeting in their campaigns,
Recognising that the fast development of methods for data collection used by data analytics corporation results in legislation lagging behind,
Aware of the abuse of the core principle of data mobility by data analytics companies;
Urges the European Commission to ensure that data collecting companies grant users control over their data when it is collected anonymously;
Advises the European Commission to amend the GDPR to differentiate between the necessary and unnecessary types of data;
Proposes the European Commission to initiate legislation that:
allows users to clearly understand that a political advertisement is micro-targeted,
gives users the option to view other advertisements that were posted by the profile that posted the advertisement;
Requests Member States to create legislation allowing users of social media platforms to see who paid for political advertisements, similar to the Dutch Social Media Advertising Code;
Suggests the European Commission creates legislation to hold social media platforms accountable for irresponsible political micro-targeting, punishable by fines;
Calls upon the European Commission to create legislation obliging social media platforms to openly disclose information regarding micro-targeting of political parties on specific user groups;
Calls upon the European Commission to increase financial support to the National Data Protection Authorities [efn_note]National Data Protection Authorities are independent public authorities that supervise the application of data protection law, with investigative and corrective power.National Data Protection Authorities are independent public authorities that supervise the application of data protection law, with investigative and corrective power.[/efn_note] of Member States with major European social media headquarters;
Invites Member States to institute a common education program on digital awareness in regards to micro-targeting;
Encourages the European Cooperation Network on elections[efn_note]The European Cooperation network on elections brings together representatives of Member States’ authorities with competences in electoral matters, and facilitates exchange of knowledge on ensuring free and fair elections in several fields including data protection.[/efn_note] to monitor the budget political parties can spend on micro-targeted advertisements for their campaigns;
European Data Protection Board (EDPB)[efn_note]The European Data Protection Board is an independent European body that contributes to consistent application of data protection rules throughout the EU. The board consists of representatives of National Data Protection Authorities and the European Data Protection Supervisor.[/efn_note]
Urges the EDPB to create a policy that obliges social media platforms to summarize and simplify the terms and conditions regarding the treatment of users’ data;
Calls upon the EDPB to create a committee of experts in charge of revising legislation to advise Member States and companies on compliance with data protection rules.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Bearing in mind that an unhealthy diet while young can have long lasting consequences throughout people’s lives, various Member States have introduced measures to address this such as regulations on products as well as education and awareness raising campaigns. With recent talks of increasing the EU’s competences in the field of health, what should be done, to further ensure children’s right to a healthy life?
Submitted by: Alex Bos (NL), Nele Brom (NL), Marjolein Groot (NL), Timin Mahajan (NL), Bart Nio (NL), Yağmur Şahin (TR), Max Valkenburcht (NL), Jente Vredenbregt (NL), Maximo van Dijk (NL), Ali-Maeve FitzGerald (Chairperson IE)
The European Youth Parliament,
Noting that childhood obesity can have long term effects on physical health with obesity resulting in 8% of premature deaths worldwide annually,
the closure of schools and educational facilities and in turn educational health programmes;
Changing School Environments
Invites Member States to promote physical activity across all educational institutions by:
incorporating a greater variety in the physical education curricula in primary and secondary schools,
encouraging participation in schools’ sports clubs funded by the Erasmus+ Sports Programme;
Calls upon the European Commission to subsidies healthy school meals by increasing funding to the European Healthy School Lunches Initiative;
Urges Member States to promote a positive relationship with children and healthy eating in schools by:
organising gardening and agricultural awareness classes and excursions,
teaching healthy cooking classes to students from the age of eight,
providing counselling services to children suffering from bullying and mental health issues caused by obesity,
educating parents on the benefits of healthy eating through educational evenings;
Recommends the European Institute for Innovation and Technology in Health to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices in tackling childhood obesity between Member States;
Directs the European Commission to propose an improved Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2021-2026 incorporating the most successful elements of its predecessor;
Supporting Families to Adopt Healthier Habits
Encourages Member States to implement a ‘sugar tax’[efn_note]Sugar Tax : a tax imposed upon foods and beverages containing added sugars to increase their retail price.[/efn_note] on foods containing added sugar;
Requests the European Commission to increase funding to the European Food Banks Association to provide healthy and fresh foods to families with a lower socioeconomic status;
Urges the European Commission to propose legislation to restrict the targeted advertising of unhealthy foods to children between the hours of 6AM and 11PM through television and social media advertisements;
Requests Member States include mandatory nutritional information such as calorie counts on all fast food menus;
Supports Member States in the promotion of healthy eating in supermarkets by:
including healthy and affordable recipes in supermarket flyers and magazines,
reducing food waste by selling food discarded for not reaching suppliers’ appearance standards at a lower cost;
Authorises the European Commission to fund innovative technological projects aiming to promote physical activity through the Horizon Europe Fund and mobile apps or other streaming services.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON CULTURE AND EDUCATION
Kids of the future: Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unconventional ideas. In a generation where innovation and entrepreneurship are the keys to future development, how should the EU foster innovation in the workforce, while also promoting creativity inside its educational systems?
Submitted by: Imme Bosman (NL), Dunya Bouzerda (NL), Isabel Denkers (NL), Esin Esendemir (TR), Ellena Geurts (NL), Wiske Grünwald (NL), Femke Kappe (NL), Key Lagerweij (NL), Alex Nowak (NL), Lucia Scotto Di Apollonia (NL), Henning Undheim (Chairperson NO)
The European Youth Parliament,
Realising that creativity[efn_note]Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.[/efn_note] as a skill is essential and can be improved,
Deeply alarmed that the current education system fails to stimulate creativity and curiosity in their students,
Keeping in mind the importance of creativity in solving the future problems of an ever-changing world in an innovative way,
Deeply troubled by the uniform expectations towards students set within the educational system,
Deeply concerned by the limited flexibility for individual students to progress through the educational system according to their personal interests and passions,
Acknowledging that lack of space for individuality or creativity can lead to mental health issues,
Noting with concern that educational testing systems focus more on a student’s ability to reproduce information than on practical skills and creative thinking;
Education and curriculum
Encourages the Ministries of Education in Member States to broaden the use of educational methods with:
Hopes Member States stimulate creative thinking at a young age by:
introducing a wide range of creative activities in kindergartens and pre-schools,
providing equal funding for schools,
supporting voluntary community trips for young children;
Congratulates the Member States for supporting extracurricular activities and exchange programs like Erasmus +[efn_note]Erasmus+ started out in 1987 as one of the first European education initiatives. The Programme reaches over 9 million youth across Europe, and aims at providing alternative educational experiences in a variety of areas, such as vocational education, adult education and educational exchanges.[/efn_note];
Invites Ministries of Education to support schools in making extra-curricular activities not contingent on students’ grades;
Suggests the Education and Training 2020 Working Groups[efn_note]ET Working Groups are designed to help Member States address the key challenges facing their education and training systems, as well as common priorities agreed at the European level.[/efn_note] invite workers to participate in creative thinking and problem solving trainings by:
increasing the number of seminars and trainings available at the workplace,
providing funding for such programmes;
Standardisation and individuality
Further invites Member States to accommodate for schools to provide students with the opportunity to follow courses at their own pace;
Advises the Member States to have the option of multi-format testing[efn_note]Multi-format testing refers to different ways of organising tests in school, such as projects, film- and audio assignments.[/efn_note] available for students beside obligatory tests;
Welcomes the Ministries of Education to create more space for individuality and creativity in the educational system;
Further encourages Member States to shape their education systems to allow students to fully express their passions and talents.
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS 2
A major concern of machine learning algorithms, is that they might perpetuate bias that was already in the data used to set up the algorithm. As such, to what extent should the EU intervene to ensure the fair and equal treatment of all its citizens, whilst considering the complex nature and ambiguity of many of these algorithms?
Submitted by: Dure Afroz (NL), Amélie Beenhakkers (NL), Laura Dominicy (LU), Danielle Kok (NL), Juliëtte Kok (NL), Áron van der Meer (NL), Finn Russell (NL), Hayat Solmaz (TR), Raphael Tsiamis (Chairperson, GR)
The European Youth Parliament,
Convinced of the connection between AI bias[efn_note]AI bias or algorithm bias is a phenomenon that occurs when an algorithm produces systemically prejudiced results due to erroneous assumptions or data biases in the machine learning process.[/efn_note] and existing social prejudices due to the skewed representation of socio-economic groups in AI training data,
Noting the direct correlation between the limited representation of minorities in AI training data and the lack of diversity in the field of AI development and applications,
Emphasising the significant social repercussions of biased AI systems on the inclusivity and the proper functioning of governmental duties such as healthcare systems and public administration,
Alarmed by the limited human oversight of the output of automated decision-making by actors developing and implementing AI,
Recognising the lack of transparency in the output of automated decision-making as a result of the complexity of AI algorithms,
Aware of the policy challenge of regulating AI technologies due to the rapid development and intricacy of machine-learning processes,
Taking into account Member States’ desire to facilitate AI innovation through a preference for soft law[efn_note]The term ‘soft law’ refers to non-binding legal instruments, such as subsidies, which aim to incentivise stakeholders towards a set goal instead of regulating their actions through specific measures.[/efn_note] measures on ethical AI over direct regulation,
Noting with concern that the trade secrecy policies among AI companies regarding their algorithms result in:
lack of transparency,
unwillingness for cooperation,
Concerned by the limited action of companies developing and applying AI regarding its ethical implementation and potential discrimination,
Disappointed by the limited investment in ethical AI systems due to the perception of socially responsible practices as not profitable;
Bias in AI Development
Encourages companies developing AI technologies to actively combat bias in algorithms by:
working towards a more equal representation of socio-economic groups in data sets used in the development of AI algorithms,
testing the implementation of AI products on a more diverse range of training groups before releasing them in the market,
setting up departments specifically tasked with monitoring the ethical implementation of their AI algorithms and researching potential misrepresentation of minorities,
providing data to surveys on AI bias by international organisations researching ethical AI;
Suggests that Member States promote the engagement of minority students in the development and implementation of AI through:
scholarships funded by Erasmus+[efn_note]Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme for supporting growth, employment, and social inclusion in Europe through a focus on education and training for the youth.[/efn_note],
public awareness campaigns about the need for diversity in AI,
educational programmes in schools developed by National Ministries;
Designates the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT[efn_note]The Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) is the department of the Commission responsible for developing and implements policies to make Europe fit for the digital age.[/efn_note]) to expand the responsibilities of the High-Level Expert Group on AI (AI HLEG[efn_note]The High-Level Expert Group on AI (AI HLEG) is a group of 52 AI experts working under DG CONNECT to advise the implementation of the European AI Strategy.[/efn_note]) to include:
auditing and approving datasets used in artificial intelligence projects under a non-disclosure agreement[efn_note]A non-disclosure agreement is a legal contract that renders confidential the dissemination of specified information shared between two or more parties.[/efn_note],
supporting European AI companies in creating more diverse and representative datasets for AI projects,
supplementing European AI companies in the detection of vulnerabilities and bias in their AI systems;
Supervision of AI
Instructs Member States to reduce their AI dependence in areas identified as ‘high-risk’[efn_note]The ‘high-risk’ areas in AI are healthcare, transport, police, recruitment, and the legal system, as considered in the position paper submitted in 2020 by 14 Member States as a response to legislative initiatives on AI by the European Commission.[/efn_note] by requiring human supervision of any automated decision-making;
Endorses Member States to continue supporting AI innovation in areas not covered by the shared EU competences through the national promotion of the Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI;
Ethical responsibility of companies
Recommends that the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers[efn_note]The Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers is the department of the European Commission responsible for European policy on justice, consumer rights.[/efn_note] promote socially responsible company policies for ethical AI by:
subsidising European companies developing AI in accordance with the Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI,
funding workplace training on ethical AI,
issuing a European certification label for companies adhering to principles of ethical AI;
Asks the DG CONNECT to increase the transparency and reduce the vulnerabilities of AI systems by funding research in explainable artificial intelligence[efn_note]Explainable AI refers to methods and techniques in the application of AI that enable human experts to understand the output of automated decision-making.[/efn_note].
Come to my window: “Across Europe’s school systems, education about gender identities is not yet commonplace, leading to members of the LGBTQ+ community being marginalised and invisible. How can the EU support and promote adequate education about LGBTQ+ identities in education?“
By Leonoor Wijdeveld (NL)
1. Relevance of the Topic
Currently, many schools and other educational institutions actively advocate against the LGBTQ+ population or ignore the needs and issues of this community. Although there have been some efforts towards bigger acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, 80% (pg. 15) of students witnessed negative attitudes towards someone perceived as LGBTQ+, 68% (pg. 57) of students experienced homophobic and transphobic violence and 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ students (pg. 35) felt discriminated against by school or university personel in the last 12 months. As the lack of acceptance, knowledge and support for the LGBTQ+ community, especially in adolescence, is harming the health, safety and societal participation pf LGBTQ+ youth (pg. 24-31), the urgency to tackle this problem is clear. The challenge to solve this matter lies in the limited competence of the European institutions, heterogeneous framework by Member States and major differences in perception of the LGBTQ+ community. The question remains how can the European Union (EU) weigh in on the variance in conservative or religious beliefs opposed to the LGBTQ+ community to support teaching vital information and supporting equality?
Recent articles on the attempted erasure of the LGBTQ+ community at reformed schools raised the question of what should be the role of LGBTQ+ information in education and how does this shape us? Organisation 113 Suicide prevention, together with the University of Groningen, published a factsheet in 2017 stating that 50% of Dutch LGB individuals and up to 70% of transexuals have had suicidal thoughts. Suicide attempts are 4 times as likely in LGB community and 5-10 times more likely in transgender individuals. In this fact sheet, 82% of LGBT individuals indicate school/work environment as important to them feeling comfortable and confident in their daily lives.
Due to the lack of LGBTQ+ inclusion, LGBTQ+ youth experience exclusion through perpetuation of heteronormative views (pg. vii) within textbooks and materials and division by binary school uniforms (pg. 2-3), to name a few institutional biases. Consequently, LGBTQ+ youth often experiences a similar rejection by peers facing more bullying and harassment at school which is detrimental to their physical and mental health as well as their school performance. Finding creative solutions to support and stimulate LGBTQ+ education in Europe and its school systems, might aid lack of LGBTQ+ representation and integration, create more understanding among cisgender straight peers reducing bullying and bring more acceptance.
2. Key Terms
LGBTQ+ community: LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, +. The + stands for other orientations or identities not defined by the previous 5 words.
Gender: The WHO would define this as “Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other.”
Sub-definitions of gender include Cisgender (Identifying with the sex you were born with), Transgender (identifying with a different sex than you were born with), Gender Fluid (identifying with different genders at different moments in time. Some days you might identify more feminine or masculine) and Non-binary/Agender (not identifying with any gender).
Sexual orientation: The group of people a person is (romantically and) sexually attracted to.
Sub-definitions of sexual orientation include Heterosexual (female-identifying individuals attracted to male-identifying individuals and vice versa), Homosexual (male-identifying individuals attracted to other male-identifying individuals), Lesbian (female-identifying individuals attracted to other female-identifying individuals), Bisexual (being attracted to both genders), Pansexual (being attracted to a person regardless of any gender characteristics).
Sex (noun): biological determination if you have female, male or intersex anatomy. Sub-definitions of sex are Male, Female and Intersex (individuals born with a variation in sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals).
Heteronormative is an adjective to describe anything that presents being heterosexual and cisgender as the default. Heteronormativity classifies alternative gender identities and non-hetero sexualities as abnormal and unnatural.
Visibility describes the presence of a community in the larger scheme of things. This entails representation of open LGBTQ+ people in corporations and politics, the possibility and presence of open conversation about the LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ issues as well as general attention for the LGBTQ+ community.
European Commission promotes the general interest of the EU by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by implementing policies and the EU budget. The European Commission aims to promote equality, safety and active participation of the LGBTQ+ community in accordance with EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (article 19 and 21). Currently it is mainly supporting Member States and NGOs with funding, information and training programmes.
Member states governments since the EU has only the competence to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States in this area (supporting competences), each State is responsible for its own legislation regarding LGBTQ+ regulations.
There are varying degrees of LGBTQ+ inclusion into national policies and variant levels of acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in each member state. Different proportions of religious groups and beliefs within a member state might influence the stance of the government and what the government could do whilst also representing the people that put them in office.
Educators teach and influence students daily and in this case, they would be the implementing party of LGBTQ+ education. Even though some could be very willing to implement LGBTQ+ education. Widespread education programmes might conflict with some educators’ own conservative or religious values against the LGBTQ+ community or the values of the community they are serving. They have to deal with parents and children from different backgrounds that could possibly be against these education programmes.
LGBTQ+ people and communities might feel unsafe to express their identity at school and might be bullied or excluded. Neglect or disregard of LGBTQ+ people within education, such as heteronormative study materials, absence of LGBTQ+ communities in (sex) education and unawareness of LGBTQ+ needs, may lead to being misunderstood by peers and educators with subsequent bullying. This alone has a severe effect on their mental health and ability to develop to their full potential in their school career. In their adult lives, they are likely to experience disparities and inequality due to stigma, misconception and lack of understanding among the population.
LGBTQ+ activists, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Networks and Movements aim to provide information regardless of school systems. They publicly support and fight for LGBTQ+ rights and bring their issues and needs to the attention of the public.
There is still a portion of society that is not supportive of LGBTQ+ relationships and identities. Non-heteronormative relationships and identities may clash with their own moral values or the perceived values of their specific (religious) community. When it comes to supporting LGBTQ+ education, this might bring conflict between schools and parents or the community and the larger school system enforcing LGBTQ+ programmes.
The different levels of recognition for LGBTQ+ people might also come into play. Only 16 Member States legalized same-sex marriage, whilst other member states merely have registered partnership. Unfortunately, inequality doesn’t stop at institutions like marriage or partnership, as some EU member states, like Poland or Hungary.
As the European Commission has the supportive competence and only a very limited legislative competence regarding LGBTQ+ emancipation (mostly pertaining to recognition and family rights and not education), it will be more difficult to find some form of consensus among Member States that will bring about more widespread change. The European Commission can not actively enforce any programmes on member states nor schools.
5. Measures in place & status quo
In alignment with the European Commissions “action list” for 2015-2019, the European Commission followed the 2018 recommendation of the council of the European union on inclusive teaching and currently supports various inclusive education projects financially through Erasmus+. This year, the European Commission presented a5-year strategy (2020-2025) on LGBTIQ+ equality aiming to fight discrimination through legislation, making LGBTQ+ hate crimes punishable and funding anti-hate speech initiatives but the possibilities for education in this strategy are limited. Regarding education, the European Commission only has a supportive competence entailing funding NGOs and other organisations, providing information and research findings or trainings.
The European Commission also directly supports the organisations the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) and Transgender Europe (TGEU).
ILGA (Europe) is an NGO that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights through widespread communication, strategic litigation and training of member organisations and LGBTQ+ groups. ILGA works on education by supporting projects by member organisations or related NGOs through knowledge sharing and offering trainings. They also advocate for inclusive education with different stakeholders, internationally, nationally and to schools directly. An example of such a project is RAINBOW (Rights Against INtolerance: Building an Open-minded World), a project to connect LGBTQ+ associations and educators to built an educational toolkit for inclusive safe education.
IGLYOis a larger students organisation supporting 95 local member organisations with trainings, international events, information and resources. Inclusive education is one of the pillars of IGLYO and they promote this topic through raising awareness and gathering information on the current status of LGBTQ+ education. IGLYO publishes the LGBTQI Inclusive Education Index, which is a rainbow map showing how inclusive education is in every Member state, every 2-3 years. From further data collection, IGLYO published the Inclusive Education report which gives a quick overview on the status of inclusive education in Europe.
TGEU specifically advocates for transgender rights and needs throughout Europe and Central Asia by organising events and trainings, raising awareness and advocating for trans rights.
6. Food for Thought & Brain Munchies
What aspects of your academic life do you take for granted that could be very different for LGBTQ+ students?
What parts of the school environment are set into the educational system and what parts are formed by the teachers, students and programmes? How do these factors impact LGBTQ+ youth?
How can the EU support LGBTQ+ education when member states possess such diversity regarding both beliefs and legislation?
In what ways could the EU make Europe a more safe environment for LGBTQ+ individuals whilst respecting or at least taking into account religious groups and traditional values of the member state?
7. Links for Research
Hear some experiences and information on LGBTQ+ inclusive education made by IGLYO