The blog post on the absence of Euroblogs in Portugal (or Portuguese) did not immediately result in hidden treasures being found, although the country (population 10.6 million) is a member of the European Union and the language could act as a bridge to 260 million Portuguese speakers worldwide.
Please, comment if you are aware of Portuguese Euroblogs, which could take their rightful place on Bloggingportal.eu, the multilingual aggregator for EU related blogs, and enliven the European online public sphere.
Spain and Spanish
Economic difficulties and high unemployment have shaped outside perceptions of Spain and Portugal lately, but both countries are EU members since 1986, fully engaged in all European Union policies without opt-outs, so they share the common currency (although they are struggling to achieve economic growth and tolerable public deficits).
If we lump the Iberians together, there are about 56 million of them, with about 46 million in Spain alone (Eurostat 2010).
Not only is Spain one of the bigger EU members, but with more than 400 million native speakers the Spanish language is the second most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese (source: Wikipedia). Thus, Spanish Euroblogs have the potential to build bridges towards the outside world, in addition to their participation in discussion at national and European level.
Internally, in democratic Spain the autonomous communities play an important part, and especially Catalan language blogs deal with European issues as well. With a population of 7.5 million, Catalonia is bigger than nine EU member states (sources: Wikipedia).
Spain has an active community of EU related blogs. In this blog post we take a look at three individual Spanish Eurobloggers, with more to come in later entries.
Eva en Europa, Más Europa and Ciudadano Morante are three Euroblogs well worth the recognition and encouragement intended by the #bkaeb Twitter hashtag (for Better Know A EuroBlog).
When there was much criticism of the title and content of José Manuel Durão Barroso’s “State of the Union” speech, fellow-Iberian Eva Peña countered the trend by a spirited defence, as we mentioned earlier. Her blog post Más presidente (8 September 2010) on Eva en Europa saw the debate in Strasbourg as a historic day on the road towards a political Europe.
Blogging from Barcelona, Eva Peña writes mainly in Spanish, but also in Catalan and English.
Más Europa is the forum where Encarna Hernández blogs about past, present and future European integration. She uses her academic background to write educational blog posts on various themes. Her thorough work has not gone unnoticed.
The latest blog entry by Hernández, ¿Habemus líder? (9 September 2010), picked up the thread from Eva Peña, with an in depth article about Barroso’s speech and the debate, without omitting weak points. She also discussed Barroso’s performance in the context of the Commission’s new communication strategy, arguing that Barroso is a better communicator than Buzek, Van Rompuy or Ashton, although Europe needs work, dedication and sacrifices more than words. In her view, Europe has a leader.
On Ciudadano Morante, Jorge Juan Morante López offered a summary of Europe’s “moment of truth”, the need for more than 27 separate national solutions: ¿En qué estado se encuentra la Union europea? (9 September 2010).
All three blogs mentioned have their personal style, but what they have in common is a European perspective and a spirit of “europeísmo” as natural as the air they breathe.
In a country where 76.72 per cent voted ‘Yes’ to the EU’s Constitutional Treaty (although the turnout was only 42.32 in this non-dramatic referendum) and where the Congress of Deputies had to settle for, but approved the lesser Treaty of Lisbon by 322 votes to 6, and the Senate by 232 votes to 6, being pro-European is a natural state (a breath of fresh air for someone who devotes time and effort to following the uniquely negative atmosphere in the United Kingdom).
There seems to be recognition by the Commission representation in Spain and continued interaction with the EU related blogosphere, something EU representations in other member states could take a closer look at.
In 2009 or 2010, Más Europa, Ciudadano Morante and Eva en Europa have all been awarded diplomas by the Commission office in Spain, but there also seems to be interaction between Euroblogs, with the government, mainstream media and educational events.
Some bloggers are campaigning for a daily slot for Europe on state television news (RTVE), just as, in my view, all European public broadcasters and quality newspapers should have a daily section on Europe, a distinct context between the national and the global.
Spain in the EU
Despite the groundswell of ‘Europeanness’, Spanish governments have at times been as pigheaded as the worst member states: almost wrecking treaty negotiations on Nice Council votes, unilateral mass naturalisation of immigrants, lack of macro and micro level reforms causing headaches for the common currency, certain difficulties for the Spanish presidency of the EU Council to adapt to the Lisbon Treaty, an affordable European patent etc.
Here I have presented only three blogs, but I venture a few broader impressions. My feeling is that the Spanish blogosphere in general has been muted in its criticism of officialdom. In my view, there would be room for more critical discussion about ‘real’ Spanish EU politics and EU shortcomings, among Spanish Euroblogs.
In order to cross linguistic and national borders, more linking and sharing between Spanish and other Eurobloggers, opening vistas for readers in both directions, would be another item on my wish-list.
We will return to the Spanish Euroblog theme in future posts.