I was in Scotland last week, which is never a chore. I had been invited to chair the Annual Schools Debate hosted by the Europe Direct in Aberdeen. 8 teams of 13 and 14-year-olds debated whether the EU should make more use of social media to engage with young people and then the final was whether school mobility programmes should be compulsory. Congratulations to the team from Robert Gordon School who won, with a very impassioned performance. It was a competition, so someone won, but really it was about so much more. All the students displayed such poise and confidence in their debating, attributes I’m certain I didn’t possess in that quantity at their age. It was a real pleasure to be part of it. They were so polite, too: at least two teams came up afterwards to thank us for the event. So when people start going on about the youth of today, I have some really good examples to give.
After Aberdeen I went to Edinburgh, where I took part in a working group meeting of the Scottish European Resources Network. I was interested in what they do as I’m trying to think about how/whether to do something for the whole UK EU information scene. To please fill out/pass on the survey on this, if you haven’t already.
Nominations are open for the UACES – Thomson Reuters Reporting Europe Prize 2012. There have been some interesting winners in the few years I’ve been going along. It’s very far from a hagiographic prize, as a brief glimpse at some of the former winners will show. I’m very honoured to have been invited to sit on the jury this year, so I won’t be doing any nominating this time. But in a year when we’ve seen European Union issues covered to an unprecedented extent, I’m sure there will be lots for the jury to get their teeth into.
Filed under EC in UK, Media
I was quite busy on Friday and didn’t get the chance to blog about the Thursday event we organised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Council. 58 (well 57 because 1 went astray) sixth formers came to Lancaster House to take part in a role-playing exercise based on the EU’s decision-making body the Council of Ministers. The schools all played a particular EU Member State, or the Commission or the Secretariat-General of the Council. They were sent briefing papers a few weeks before the event and came to Lancaster House on Thursday ready to debate the issues from the point of view of the country they were assigned. This time, for the first year, we had interpretation as well, giving a real sense of the multilingualism of the real Council. Not only did some of the speakers from the organisers speak in French and German, but quite a few of the students did too: the “French” representative in one of the working groups even taking verisimilitude so far she spoke French every time she took the floor!
There’s a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/EUMockCouncil and some videos on YouTube as well, with students and teachers talking about their experience.
Teachers talk about the day
The Netherlands talks about her day
It was a fabulous day. There was an incredible buzz from the beginning, and the students really got into their roles. I was following the working group on the Arab Spring and it got very passionate! There’s lots of talk about young people being disengaged from the Political process, but on the evidence of Thursday, that isn’t the case. Maybe it’s about them feeling involved. Quite apart from what they learn in terms of the EU decision-making process, several of the teachers mentioned how important it was for developing students’ confidence. Maybe none of them are looking for careers in politics or administration, but learning about engaging with people, defending a point of view and talking in front of people are all valuable skills for life.
Came across an interesting article in today’s NY Times on whether product regulation is a cost to business. Some choice excerpts:
Unfortunately, they ignore a vital point: health and safety agencies rarely impose new costs on society when we issue safety regulations. We simply re-allocate who pays the costs.
Anyone who insists that regulations necessarily impose new costs on society shouldn’t be taken seriously. The costs are already there, in the form of deaths and injuries — and are often as much of a drag on our economy as any safety rule. So the real issue is who should bear the costs.
Not all regulation is bad, nor is it always more costly. And one of the ways to ensure that our safety rules are cost-effective is to use thoughtful cost-benefit analysis.
HT to Stefano Soro for finding the article.
Our official office Twitter account has attracted some attention from people who don’t like the EU. Fair enough. However, I’m not going to engage with this level of debate:
@EUlondonrep I hate Barrosso! Who voted for the cunt? Answer:No one! How can we vote the cunt out? Answer: We can’t! EU = fascist state
@EUlondonrep = voice of the occupier. We will never surrender, never forgive and we will never forget. Fuck off, you’re not welcome here.
@EUlondonrep @derekvaughan we will never accept the occupation of Britain by EU SCUM.We will NEVER forgive, NEVER forget and NEVER surrender
@EUlondonrep we will never accept the occupation of Britain by EU SCUM. We will NEVER forgive, NEVER forget and we will NEVER surrender
Can’t help thinking someone needs a holiday…
Can I point out a few things?
1) The EU rules can regulate how things are put on the market, but not how they are used in the home. So they recommend supervision for use of balloons etc that children could choke on, but don’t ban children from using them.
2) 25000 British kids are taken to A&E every year after choking on something. I think doing something to try to reduce those numbers is to be commended.
3) The US has similar rules on toys that constitute a choking hazard.
4) There is no change in the rules – this requirement has existed since 1988.