Sunday 16 January 2011

Hungarian EU Council presidency: PR or credibility?

The Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union showed team spirit by using the hashtag #EuTrioBe on Twitter. Now use #EuTrioHu and you find tweets from private EU citizens, media and even the Belgian presidency, but no communication from the Hungarian government.

The pattern is the same as we saw in yesterday's blog post: Hungarian EU Council presidency: Small but telling signs? (15 January 2011). Belgium handed over to but we land at old school On the presidency web pages only the hungarian part of the eutrio logo is used.

Pure coincidence?

The Hungarian EU Council presidency now finds it opportune to tell us about its precedence-setting cooperation with the two other members of the trio:

During the term of the Hungarian Presidency, the Secretaries of State representing the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian Presidency Trio will continue their excellent cooperation, announced the joint press conference by Enikő Győri, Olivier Chastel and Diego López Garrido in Budapest. The three countries’ cooperation is setting a precedent in the EU.

On a scale between convincing and a hollow ring, where do you place this self-proclaimed truth?

Even in the Hungarian government's press release, the coded language of the the Belgian secretary of state for EU affairs, Olivier Chastel, seems to convey a message to the attentive reader, as he diplomatically:

… spoke highly of the Hungarian Presidency’s programme and the institution of the Trio Presidency. He stressed that the three Presidency’s successes are merged and shared by the three respective countries.

Why do the PR efforts of the Hungarian government remind me of what Hugh Barton-Smith wrote about EU communication on the website of the Belgian chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), in: Can Web 2.0 help save the EU from itself? (4 January 2011):

EU messages tend to be Panglossian in register, which only encourages scepticism.

However, this is where Web 2.0 can be useful. The euro blogo/twitter/facebook sphere is a resonance chamber for sufficiently switched on EU institution actors to assess just how hollow their words can sound.

And whereas most institutional communicators are paid/indoctrinated into falling over each other to find soaring epithets for his new clothes, the bloggers and twitterers can act like the lad pointing out the nakedness of the Emperor.

What would you tell the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Treffpunkt Europa, the German webzine of the young European federalists (JEF), is back online with a new layout and continued discussion about the future of Europe, like its siblings, Le Taurillon in French, The New Federalist in English and Eurobull in Italian. Recommended reading for every EU citizen.

P.S. 2: After a few years discussing the EU on forums and blogs in Swedish and Finnish, I began blogging on Grahnlaw (in English). Today's Grahnlaw post is number 1,950, so there is a fairly solid archive by now on EU law and politics.

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