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The SPECQUE (acronym for Simulation du Parlement Européen Canada-Quebec-Europe) is an international French-speaking model of the European Parliament, now the largest. Founded in 1998 by students of Laval University (Quebec, Canada), it has become a reference for models on both sides of the Atlantic. Since its first edition, the SPECQUE has developed the double ambition of promoting the major issues of European current affairs and of giving its participants an inside look into the functioning of the European Parliament. Beyond these academic goals, the SPECQUE allows students from all over Europe and Canada to broaden their horizons by exchanging ideas and opinions.
In its 15 year history, the SPECQUE has established itself as a reference model for both Canadian and European institutions. In 2011, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Quebec’s Ministry of International Relations endorsed the initiative. On top of this, support was gathered amongst many politicians, such as Jean-Claude JUNCKER, Luxembourg Prime Minister and President of the Eurogroup, Marc JAEGER, President of the General Court of the ECJ, His Excellency Matthias BRINKMANN, Ambassador, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Canada. With its particular atmosphere, bringing together work and pleasure, the SPECQUE allows the emergence of an international, dynamic, enthusiastic and motivated student network, intending to play a major role in society. As a model parliament, the SPECQUE also helps its participants to develop their public speaking skills, cultivate a sense of initiative and learn the art of persuasion. They also gain the ability to thoroughly analyze sensitive issues and approach them under a legislative angle. The model also allows participants to meet young people from different environments and cultures, thus acquiring an open-mindedness that is invaluable in a context of globalization.
The simulation is organized by the Association SPECQUE, a non-profit organization based in Quebec, but also represented in Europe. This association is governed by a Board of thirteen members, all of whom have participated at least once in the model. The Board consists of executive members who take charge of the organization of the event, and of non-executive members who handle the broad guidelines of the association, while ensuring its financial health and sustainability.
During the week of the model, participants wear the shoes of those involved in European political life. While most are Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), some will be European Commissioners or members of the Council of the EU, President or Secretary-General of Parliament, Rapporteurs, heads of a political group, chairman or secretary of commission... But the model would not be the same without its journalists (newspaper, TV news, blog) and its lobbyists.
All are brought to take part in discussions on four topics relating to the current affairs of Europe. Some of the recurring areas of interest include safety, economy, foreign trade, company law, social affairs, health or European defense. The discussion of the four topics is submitted to a legislative process, divided up between, plenary sessions and in-depth committee work. After much political plotting, on the last day, participants finally vote on the four texts and their amendments. It is also when that the motions presented by the MEPs are put to a vote.
As this model stays true to the actual European Parliament procedure, the participants are able to assimilate the decision-making processes of European democracy. Also, the model’s rules are based on the real Rules of order of the European Parliament. Such a parallelism allows an even stronger immersion in the authentic parliamentary customs and habits.
Impact of the Model
The SPECQUE contributes to the promotion of the European Union and its institutions to a targeted audience: students in colleges and universities, as well as the academic community and other institutional or private partners. In this way, the SPECQUE strengthens the interest for European institutions. The debates allow a direct exchange of knowledge, which reinforces the understanding of the political system of each of the participants’ respective country. This ultimately brings each to see their own system with a more critical outlook.
Partaking in the SPECQUE represents a long term engagement and requires particular knowledge of EU institutions and legislative processes. Preparation is necessary in order to actively participate in the model.
The impact of the participants’ work and its sustainability are particularly consolidated by the transmission of all of the MEPs’ amended reports to the SPECQUE’s private and institutional partners.
- 1998: Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- 1999: Strasbourg, France, Europe
- 2000: Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- 2001: Barcelone, Spain, Europe
- 2002: Ottawa-Gatineau, Ontario-Quebec, Canada
- 2003: Cracow, Poland, Europe
- 2004: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- 2005: Brussels, Belgium, Europe
- 2006: Montreal, Québec, Canada
- 2007: Paris, France, Europe
- 2008: Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- 2009: Berlin-Dresde, Germany, Europe
- 2010: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
- 2011: Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Europe
- 2012: Montreal, Québec, Canada
- 2013: Rome, Italy, Europe