The participants of EU Mock Council take their role of representing EU countries seriously. The students representing Finland were impressed with what they found out about the country.
A few weeks back in November, the 2016 Mock Council of the European Union was held in Westminster, London. 30 schools participated in a simulation of a meeting of the EU's Council of Ministers on two topical EU policy proposals. Each school was assigned the role of an EU member state or an EU institution, the media also represented by one school.
Representing Finland were Joshua Sutton, 16, and Eleanor Hawes, 16, from Reepham High School and College in Norfolk.
The students had been preparing to the event weeks in advance. Sutton acquainted himself with the European Arrest Warrant, while Hawes researched the Erasmus-programme. Talking to them at lunchtime on the day, Sutton and Hawes were quite happy with the negotiations so far.
"I got to present Finland's views quite early on, so the ideas I put forward were discussed quite thoroughly. I think Finland got more of a say than many of the bigger countries you usually expect to have a bigger say", Sutton says, contented.
Sutton and Hawes admit that they didn't have much knowledge about Finland beforehand – and that they were impressed by what they found out.
"I was surprised how Finland lead the world on so many things – equal rights, education and that they're one of the happiest countries in the world", Sutton lists.
"I'm really glad we got a country like Finland, because it lets you appreciate how influential and actually politically sound the smaller European countries are. I think Finland is a great representation of maybe not a massive country, but still having a big impact."
"Small but mighty!", adds Hawes.
Hawes and Sutton see the Mock Council as a great opportunity to familiarise themselves with international issues.
"People really get involved in the country that they're representing. It's quite a weird thing, because obviously we want the best for the UK, but at the moment I want the best for Finland", Sutton reflects.
Regarding further negotiations, Sutton and Hawes were cautiously optimistic.
"It will require a lot of compromise. A major part of negotiations will be about the free movement", Hawes predicted.
The participants' faith was eventually rewarded, as an agreement was reached on both topics in the afternoon negotiations.
Text and photo: Maiju Ylipiessa, Intern at the Embassy Press Office