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Why should young scientists visit the European Parliament?

The European Parliament is based in Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Brussels. Most of the plenary sessions are held in Strasbourg, although the Members of the European Parliament have their main offices in Brussels, while Luxembourg hosts parts of the administration.

Visiting the European Parliament is a great way to find out about its work as the voice of European Union citizens, and about the impact it makes across both Europe and the world.

On July 3rd we visited with young scientist the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Our kind host was Peter Simon, MEP. In a vivid discussion several aspects on European politics in respect to questions by the early-stage researchers were debated. After Brexit - under what conditions will EU-citizens live in the UK in the next years? What are the implications if Catalonia will become independent from Spain?

© European Union 2017 - Source : EP, Marc DOSSMANN

Highlight of our visit was the visit of the the hemicycle in Strasbourg, which is where most of the plenary sessions are held and we were lucky to hear the statement on the EU defence plan and the future of Europe by Federica Mogherini , the current High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.

There are any number of issues - climate change, resource usage, conservation, species loss, energy policy, global epidemics and pandemics, and that's just the tip of the iceberg - where we, the scientific community, have said we see real threats. In some cases, the threat is distant and preventable; in others, it's a clear and present danger. In all of them, real people are really at risk. Why on earth would I agree that my goal should simply be to educate and inform others about the threats?

The scientific community is not some real grouping of beings that sits off somewhere isolated from the real world. As hard as this might be to believe sometimes, we don't live in a bubble. We don't live in some ivory tower, protected by moats and walls and gates. We really do live in the real world. When we're talking about threats, we're talking about things that will affect our world. They will affect our country. They will affect our neighbors, our friends, our families, and ourselves.

Our understanding of science makes it easier for us to see the threats, and it makes it easier for us to figure out what can be done to minimize the risks. We should not simply tell people what the threats are, and what can be done about them. We need to do everything in our power to make sure that the right steps are taken.

For this it is important that young scientistic are interested in politics and visit the respective institutions.