Working on a weekend when you normally go to the office on weekdays can sound like a punishment, a bad joke or at least not fun at all. But when it implies changing Brussels’ grey sky for the sunny Spanish city of Cordoba, and having the opportunity to exchange views about communicating Europe with a bunch of enthusiastic and active bloggers, the perspectives change.
Two months ago, EP’s information office in Madrid organized the meeting “the EP and the social networks”. The ingredients: 22 bloggers, 2 MEPs, a mayor, several communication experts*, 4 people from the Madrid EP information office, 1 from Barcelona, 1 from Brussels (myself), lots of portable computers and a WiFi network. And the result was a piece of cake.
The meeting was divided in several workshops. After the presentations, the morning opened the debate with hot topics: the first course was “social networks as a tool for citizen’s freedom of expression and political participation”, with MEP Pilar Del Castillo. Her views on Wikipedia and on internet piracy heated the public, and she answered all the questions looking delighted to debate on the subject.
In the afternoon, MEP Salvador Garriga focused much of the attention during the roundtable “communicating Europe through social networks”. Other speakers included the co-editor of bloggingportal and author of the blog “Europasionaria”, Laurence Modrego, who gave the event the international touch from the side of the bloggers. Her impression after the meeting… “yes Spain is different“.
We say very often that we want more feedback on what we do. Cordoba gave me the opportunity of getting two kinds of it: feedback on what we do and on what people think we are doing. It was surprising to see that many of the participants, even if having an interest on the EU and being very active on social media, were not aware of what we are doing at the European Parliament. During the opening debates, I heard some criticism and lapidary sentences which I was not expecting to hear from a group like that… sentences very close to the topical ideas we are used to listen to every now and then.
It was somehow frustrating, but also very encouraging; the latter, a feeling that only became stronger after presenting them what we do. They praised our efforts on Facebook and Twitter, and were very surprised that this blog is not more “advertised”, being “a reference in European communication” (not my words!). Writing for y(EU) was unanimously considered an excellent intitiative that should “get more official support”.
The more than twenty posts published after the meeting confirmed that there are people out there who want to discuss about Europe, with very good ideas and an enthusiasm that is so encouraging feeling from time to time. I came back from Cordoba happy, with a renewed strength, and convinced that the European debate arena that we aim and dream to create is not such a utopia.
My conclusions are that we are going in the correct direction, but we should not stop in our efforts to bring Europe even closer to the citizens. We need to better “sell” what we do, informing about it: it is not enough to do it, people need to know about it. There is still something missing when such an interested public admits that they were not aware of many of the initiatives we are taking.
The parallel meeting
The magic of the internet and its power to bring down borders was tangible during the whole day. The discussion did not only that place in that room in Cordoba, but also in many other cities around the world where people were following it live via twitter, sending us some comments or opinions and even opening a parallel debate on the net.
The hashtag #PEredes, created for the event, was Spain’s top trending topic for the whole day. And for the first time, nobody was looking at me as I presented the Parliament’s activity on social networks… they were all focused on their computers, twitting what I was saying. It felt weird!
Another interesting outcome from the meeting was a video in which the participants answer in one short sentence the question: “what do bloggers want from Europe?” Another sign of the participants’ enthusiasm: shortly after, the video was subtitled in English by Alejandro Palomino, who honoured the name of his blog “La traducción es la lengua de Europa” (literally, “Translation is Europe’s language”).
It is impossible to include in a single post all the richness and the very good ideas that came up in a whole day of debates… but if you can read Spanish, I recommend you to read the posts published on it:
– Chronic of the European bloggers event in Cordoba, by Ciudadano Morante
– Comunicar Europa, crear una necesidad, by Borja Ventura in Sesión de control.com
– Europa en redes y blogs: pasito a pasito, by Rosa J. C.
– Europa: “pero es que yo soy así”, by Juan Luis Sánchez
– Blogueros europeístas toman el pulso a la Unión, by Raúl Solís on cafebabel.com /sevilla babel
– El Parlamento Europeo y las redes sociales, on La traducción es la lengua de Europa
– El Parlamento Europeo y las redes sociales, on Euromovilidad
– Europa será de los europeos o no será, by Aitor Ordax
– Otoño o invierno en Córdoba con el Parlamento Europeo, by Álvaro Millán
– Europa necesita que pensemos que la necesitamos, by Borja Ventura
– Europa Polichinela, by David Martos on Periodismo Humano
– Encuentro de bloggers europeos, by Emilio Fuentes on europe@s
– Redes sociales, libertad de expresión y participación ciudadana, by Encarna Hernández on Más Europa
– Recapitulando: Encuentro Parlamento Europeo y redes sociales, by Eva Peña on Eva en Europa
– Los blogueros y las redes sociales se adueñan de las ideas políticas, by Fernando Navarro on Europa451
– Comentarios sobre el encuentro “El Parlamento Europeo y las Redes Sociales”, by Francisco Ruiz on Internet como recurso educativo
– Comunicando Europa a través de las redes sociales, by Lorenzo Juillet on Los Euros
– Several audio interviews by Macarena Rodríguez on La Oreja de Europa (see the bottom of the page)
– Conclusiones de #PEredes, by Paco Luis Benítez on Tractatus (i)Logicus
– Europa: la institución o la persona, by Paco Torres
*The experts: Susana del Rio, member of the European independent experts panel on Science, Society and Governance; Fátima Ramírez, director general for consumers at the Andalousian government; Francisco Polo, director of Actuable.es; Pau Solanilla, coordinator at Europeando.eu; Ignacio Escolar, author of Escolar.net; and Sonia Blanco, who moderated the debates