EU ZMK's Diary

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” ~Karen Lamb

The European Bloggers were provided before the usual Summer holiday with an opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the Cyprus presidency on 26 July 2012 (Thursday). This event took place in the JUSTUS-LIPSIUS Council building’s press room and in the famous café Autriche (to be pronounced: OUTREACH). The list of the subscribed bloggers clearly demonstrates that the variety of participants was impressive. Further details are available here.


(On the photo: Cyprus Presidency decoration at the main hall of the Council Justus Lipsius building. Each Presidency brings its own style of decoration © seikinsou)

Being a European blogger and one of the lucky participants, I present the 10 key messages I identified which can help to keep the dialogue between the EU presidencies and the EU bloggers active.

1.) “I appreciate your presence to help establish the public opinion and to better understand the people’s voice. Let’s bring closer Brussels to Nicosia.”

What is the Cyprus EU Presidency of the Council all about? The CY PRES did its best to show openness to the civil society and this kick off meeting was a good way to present the Cyprus presidency’s 4 priorities. The Presence of the Cyprus COREPER II Ambassador (Permanent Representative, Mr. Kornelios KORNELIOU) and of the Cyprus COREPER I Ambassador (Deputy Permanent Representative, Mr. George ZODIATES) marked the political importance of that meeting. They did not contributed only to the plenary meeting through speeches but also to the in-depth panel discussions.

2.) “European Bloggers are closer to the civil society than regular journalists do.”

As I stressed during the panel discussion 1, the voice of usual bloggers reflects more the real opinion of ordinary people.

Because journalists work for newspapers/websites/newsletters therefore they concentrate on issues having general interests and follow strict professional rules in order to meet expectations, high quality standards and strict deadlines.

On the one hand, all these efforts may result high quality and interesting articles about general European issues. On the other hand, there is a danger that at the end of that process, the professional article will not really mirror the real opinion of an ordinary woman/man (in other words, the sincere opinion of the author) in spite of her/his best wishes.

And here can European Bloggers come in. Internet and blogs are democratic and for free. What is the weight of a woman/man if she/he is only a European Blogger?

– We have no financial interests at all.
– We write blog entries if we wish to do so.
– We have no deadlines (I am writing these lines several days after the event).
– We have the necessary freedom to be creative.
– There are no limits to the length of our entries.

Therefore, it is worth to listen to what regular and not professional bloggers want to say. Between our lines, you can find the often missing voice of the civil society.

3. “Only writing a blog isn’t enough. There is more to be done”

The Blog is only one of several ways to express our opinions using social media: twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, personal websites, etc. Blogs are important but bloggers have to find a proper way to deliver their blogs’ messages to the potential readers. That’s why I regard a blog as only one single building block in a complex on-line media structure. Other building blocks are regular and relevant tweets on twitter, a strong and professional media presence on LinkedIn, including active participation in networking group debates and a professional facebook site.

(Comment: since the separation of the professional life from the private one is important, I created a separated facebook page dedicated only to my own blog.)

Last, but not least, a personal website can facilitate this process and can bring together to one platform all links pointing at relevant sites.

See my example:
e-mail.me ► zoltanmassaykosubek@yahoo.com

about.me

My LinkedIn profile

My Facebook profile

EU Hemicycle: updates on EU affairs

EU Hemicycle: facebook updates on EU affairs

@EU_hemicycle

EU Hemicycle discussions on LinkedIn

Pro Patria et libertate: magyar közéleti blog

► Pro Patria et libertate: magyar közéleti blog a facebook-on

@Propatriablog

Pro Patria et Libertate LinkedIn csoportban

4. “You are certainly ready to express your opinion. But what about listening to the views of others?”

There is a real danger that bloggers become selfish. They are probably very keen on expressing their own opinion but in the meantime, they might miss the point: to listen to the views of others. It is crucial to have real on-line discussions by confronting divergent views. Therefore, it is not the right way to

– blog out our opinions without reading other’s blogs;
– give tweets and expecting followers without following others;
– launch LinkedIn discussions without participating therein etc.

Therefore, bloggers have to be not only active on their own blog, but in the same time, be ready to give comments elsewhere. What do you think: could any kind of European Initiative reach the European people without having a real discussion?

I would appreciate if you had firm opinions on different subjects (so many people don’t) but you should always bear in mind before expressing yourself that perhaps you might be wrong!

5. “Is there any difference between an official press release and your blog/tweet?”

Blogs (and mini-blogs like tweets) have to be personal. We are fed of reading hundred times the same official blabla. Yes, fact and figures are crucial but be sure that people will find easily the basic information on websites/traditional media in no time. They read your blog/follow you on Twitter/focus on your updates on LinkedIn because they are interested in your personal views. Let’s bring a bit more personality into social media! Let’s show the human face of people/institutions!

People are more and more likely to use social media to have real/more information/opinions about affairs they are interested in. And rapidly growing social media news can have real effect on policies as the fall of ACTA is the real evidence for that.

However the citizens were those who made the first step: the citizens decided to bring closer the politicians to them through social media and not the politicians. Social media patterns are real opportunities to give a face to the faceless policy intentions. Social media can change the relation between governments and journalists. In other words, the EU cannot survive this crisis in the XXIst century with the old habits and methods of the XXth century.

6. “You are equivalent to as many persons as many languages you speak.”

Luxemburgish people are famous about the variety of languages they speak. The devise I choose reflects the true European message: United in Diversity. One reason of why is the EU so far from its people is the linguistic barrier. Different languages are bridges to bring European people closer to each other. The role of the English as a quasi common language is important but not enough. We must rely on the other important working languages (French and German) and at the same time to take on board as many rare and specific languages as possible. That’s why I try to use as many languages as I can to reach out to readers, including my native Hungarian. Only a Europe which speaks the languages of its citizens has a real chance to be successfull.

7. “The civil society is completely underdeveloped (but not only in Cyprus).”

What is the message of the Cypriot Bloggers? Unfortunately, the people are not as active as they could be in many European countries. That is why ordinary people can only be reached through ordinary media (television, newspapers, radio) and the possibilities of social media are limited. Influencing the society through a blog is not very easy. Moreover, bloggers usually have a regular job therefore their time to be spent on blogging is limited. However, bloggers can change the dominance of traditional media: ex. by being present in ordinary media and blogging not only about the big European affairs (Macro-Europe) but also about everyday situations where Europe has an impact on the usual life of its citizens. In that way they/we can make a difference (Micro-Europe).

Let’s bring new ideas on the table! Let’s bring fresh air into the room.

“8. Take us seriously!”

This is the real message of the blogosphere to the national governments through the Cyprus Presidency. Although this meeting was an impressive step forward, a unique occasion won’t fill the gap between the glorious intention of the presidency and the real needs of the European society: much more is to be done. What is the positive message and wish of the EU bloggers to the current (and upcoming) presidency(ies)? There is a need for more continuity between bloggers and the rotating EU presidency. One possible way may be maintaining a common EU PRES twitter account.

As a former Hungarian presidency veteran, I am aware that presidencies are busy and have enough official duties to be fulfilled. But European bloggers have also a regular workplace, and at the same time, they have firm opinion on EU affairs, which may reflect the views of ordinary people. And we spend our time writing blogs in order to reach people. Read us! Take us seriously! Be even more transparent and more open to criticism than you were in the past.

If not, the result will be the same: people and national governments and parliaments will always blame Brussels for their own incapacity. Let’s stop that the centre be blamed! We are also part of the centre.

9. Where to find us?

Blogs are everywhere: you may easily find European blogs surfing on the internet by using regular searching engines. However, there is an alternative way to read interesting and relevant blog entries. Portals (like BlogActiv) usually publish regular selection of blogs where you will find an impressive variety of different opinions. The project called Bloginportal.eu is about gathering all the European blogs together (cca. 8-900 blogs) to make easier to follow the most relevant blogs.

10. LIST OF THE SUBSCRIBED BLOGGERS – and most importantly – LINKS to their blogs.

Having said that, I am very pleased to offer you the opportunity to focus on the diverse opinion of the European Blogoshpere: here is an indicative list of European Bloggers, blogging regularly about European affairs: LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

I remain at your disposal.

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Zoltán MASSAY-KOSUBEK

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