Thursday 14 January 2010

Better EU communication: European Parliament

The web pages of the European Parliament are overflowing with material on the hearings of the designated members of the European Commission. Formally, the EP votes on the Commission as a body, but the hearings are conducted with the individuals chosen, and less formally the Parliament can communicate its views to Commission president José Manuel Barroso and the governments of the EU member states. If the EP decides to play hardball, it can block the whole nomination.

The web editors of the European Parliament are probably fully occupied by the multimedia circus right now, but soon enough they may be able to return to the long-term issue of the EP’s communication.

In a positive sign of the times, the web communications team of the European Parliament was allowed to launch a blog ahead of the June 2009 European elections and to experiment with other social media.

Luckily the blog Writing for (y)EU survived the elections, and it has continued to discuss the challenges of communicating Europe in 22 languages in the digital era.

The recent blog post Help! It’s a blank sheet moment... (6 January 2010) was an engaging invitation for readers to chip in with ideas for improvement of the official EP website.

A short while ago, this invitation had led to 21 comments, most of them constructive. Since the web team featured the post on the home page, it is easy to find for those who want to contribute.

Julien Frisch was the one who set the ball rolling, by publishing a post with detailed proposals on his own blog: Renewing the European Parliament website: First thoughts (8 January 2010).

There are still many “heavy users” out there, who could communicate their experiences and expectations by commenting: public officials, business interests, journalists, consultants, researchers, teachers, students etc. In addition, there are those who are experts on web communication and website design.

The Swedish website set new standards for the Council presidencies (and as such, is an example worth studying). (User-friendly communication by presidencies and the other EU institutions might set things in motion with regard to the Council proper).

European citizens now have the chance to contribute to the improvement of the website of an important EU institution, the European Parliament.

Please, do.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Regards-citoyens (in French) is a highly productive “factory” of news and analysis on EU politics and policies, with both own writing and reposted quality articles from newspapers and other blogs. Regards-citoyens is one of the more than 500 great euroblogs on steadily growing multilingual, a useful one-stop-shop for fact, opinion and gossip on European affairs, i.a. politics, policies, communication, economics, finance and law.

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