Sunday, 1 May 2011

Improving communication: Informal EU Council meetings

We have scouted in the direction of competitiveness, in EU programme terms the Europe 2020 growth strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (EU2020) and the relaunch of the Single Market (through the Single Market Act SMA).

This has now led us to ask if future Council presidencies will try to exceed the benchmark set by Hungary for an informal Council meeting and if communication on official and informal Council meetings could be better integrated.

Hungarian benchmark

I am impressed. The Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union showed the way by going well beyond the traditionally lousy communication standards for informal Council meetings.

The informal Competitiveness Council 11 to 13 April 2011, where research ministers discussed innovation, offered stakeholders, the media and the wider public a fairly detailed account of the meeting as well as the solid discussion paper Future Perfect.

Even if the ministerial discussions 'sub rosa' remained closed to the public, the well structured web page with the main press release brilliantly gave interested readers access to related news and pages, as well as relevant external websites and documents about research and technological development (RTD).

(We also found that the European Commission should do some technical repair work regarding the links to the Digital Agenda.)

Improving the Consilium website

As we have seen, the Consilium website offers us official conslusions, as here regarding the Competitiveness Council (internal market, industry, research and space).

Even if it still seems like a utopian dream to wish for one-stop thematic websites truly covering all the EU institutions, I wonder if the Council (Consilium) couldn't at least build a bridge to the rotating presidency by including the main press release (web page) reporting the outcome of each informal Council meeting.

This would offer a permanent reference to the presidency pages, otherwise easily missed. In turn, wider and more long term readership might inspire future Council presidencies to communicate more generously about the informal Council meetings they arrange, with the Hungarian innovation page as the benchmark 'pro tempore'.

Is the next trio – Poland, Denmark and Cyprus (Wikipedia) - ready to take up the challenge?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Gergely Polner and Hajdú Márton give the Hungarian presidency of the EU Council a human face on the Kovács & Kováts blog. You can follow @polnerspox and @hajduspox on Twitter, too.