Posts filed under ‘European Parliament’

Coming soon: Fleishman-Hillard’s European Parliament Digital Trends Survey

A short note to announce that we will be launching our second study on MEPs’ use of the Internet on January 25th. In the study, we explore their use of digital channels to communicate with constituents and others, as well as how they use the web and other channels to inform themselves on policy matters.

After the success of our previous study in 2009, we wanted to repeat the exercise to see how much the new parliament differs from the old, and how the MEPs’ usage has changed now they are no longer in an election year. What’s more, it is interesting to note how much impact the last 18 months of social media publicity has made on MEP habits.

The report will be published at www.epdigitaltrends.eu. Sign up now if you wish to be notified on the day or watch this space!

Rosalyn

January 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm 1 comment

A Social Media Butterfly: an event for your calendars

Dear readers,

Before you head home for Christmas take a moment to put this date in your diaries. On 12th January at 1530 in the European Parliament the pleasantly named Butterfly Europe is holding an event. The Italian web magazine turned ‘social think-tank’, Lo Spazio Della Politica and GliEuros are joining together to invite EU decision makers, functionaires and consultants for a roundtable discussion on social networks and social media.

What distinguishes this event is the calibre of speakers: not only do they have some of the most digitally savvy MEPs around; Alexander Alvaro, Gianni Pittella, Maritje Schaake and Marie-Christine Vergiat, they also have the people involved in getting the institutions online and active in the social media sphere on board. For the European Parliament this is Stephen Clark and from the Commission Antonia Mochan. The consultancy world is also given a voice, with representatives from multiple agencies; not least FH Brussels’ own Steffen Thejll-Moller .

There will be two main roundtables followed by open debate. The first roundtable will centre on social networks; and the second on online media. It should be an interesting look at the characteristics of ‘a new journalism style’ that is, online and participative, something which you will be hearing more from us in the future. As the final session is on EU public opinion it is appropriately going to be open debate.

In preparation for the event, Butterfly Europe has interviewed Steffen on ‘Making digital tools your comms strategy’. He addresses the reasoning behind our blog, becoming an online resource for decision makers and journalists, as well as our upcoming study on EP digital trends which will be released at the event.

So that’s it for now and remember: 12th January. Register here.

Rosalyn

December 20, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

FH Podcast: European Parliament’s social media team – interview

As part of our continuing quest to seek out new and interesting people implementing digital we bring to you this podcast with Florent Le Montagner and Barbara Quilez. They both work at the European parliament web communications unit specialising in Facebook and Twitter outreach respectively. We spend a lot of time trying to harness internet tools to create a dialogue and in public affairs it is often the institutions that we want to engage. For Florent and Barbara it is the other way around, they endeavour to improve the European Parliament’s online communication. We invite you to listen in as they discuss their particular challenges with Steffen.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Click here to play the mp3 version.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Rosalyn

December 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm 1 comment

The Highlights – “Social media: what works & and what doesn’t?” from the European Public Affairs Action Day

So Thursday was the long awaited European Public Affairs Action Day, organised by the Parliament Magazine, and of course it was every bit as good as it promised to be. We hosted a workshop entitled ‘Social Media: what works what doesn’t’? We aimed at having a range of perspectives in our panel to get a good picture of how social media is being developed in different areas, from industry to national and then European politics.

Michael Adolph from FH started off with some of the inspiring work they do in Washington and highlighted that good quality content which shows real personal enthusiasm for the subject matter is most likely to resonate with audiences. He showcased a video for Johns Hopkins University’s Malaria Free Future campaign, which demonstrates how a fresh approach to traditional funding applications with creative visuals and a proactive online outreach can make a practical difference to malaria sufferers.

He was then followed by Samuel Coates from the UK Conservative Party. He gave very straightforward advice: don’t just believe the hype but find out who your audience is and reach out to them. Try to build a relationship rather than just following the latest social media trend and using those media channels like you would a foghorn.

Finally, we rounded off with another perspective, that of Ryan Heath who, as a member of Neelie Kroes’ social media team, has the opportunity to experience firsthand the way social media is shaping the government/citizen conversation.  Definitely the most eye opening quote of the day comes from our dynamic Australian who said that on Neelie Kroes’ website ‘a single average blog post gets as many views as all of her 2010 press releases combined’ – a clear sign that the more immediate and personal nature of a blog post resonates with audiences.

Yes a good time was had and it was great to see so many industry leaders there. We videoed the panel and have a few snippets from the audience coming soon so watch this space…

Rosalyn

December 13, 2010 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

“Social media: what works & what doesn’t?” – FH workshop at the Public Affairs Action Day

We’re hosting a workshop as part of the Parliament Magazine’s Public Affairs Action Day (9 December at 11.45 in Brussels). It’s simply entitled “Social media – what works and what doesn’t?” and will look at addressing some of the following concerns:

  • Am I not exposing myself to needless criticism?
  • How can I really measure its effectiveness?
  • Will I be able to control the discussion on line?
  • Brussels is a tiny community. Can’t I just pick up the phone or meet people
    face to face?

We prefer to look at social media as an opportunity rather than a threat, so plenty of onus will be on the opportunities on offer to politicians, businesses, civil society and citizens to engage as equals, and how this is being reflected in the “real world” with examples from Brussels, the US and UK.  Our panel will feature a political communicator from FH in Washington DC, Head of Social Media for the Conservatives in the UK, and a Commission Official responsible for social media.

If you fancy coming, you can still register here for our session as well as the rest of the day’s festivities. If not, watch this space, as we’ll be posting some video footage from the event including highlights from the panel discussion and some snippets from attendees willing to speak up!

Steffen and Rosalyn

December 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

We’re tickled pink by Julien’s fish and mash-ups

An interesting post over on Julien Frisch’s blog who shows yet again how online tools out there for free can help all of us seeking to understand and explain the EU’s legislative processes – whether to clients or just because we are tickled pink by fishing regulations like  Julien.

It’s a pity that the Council’s website doesn’t allow one to follow the discussions from WP to COREPER to Council with links to documents attached as Julien has done. Alas, we’ve complained about the Council’s website before and no doubt will do so again. We also had a go at thinking on this blog about how these kind of tools can be put to use in public affairs to bring the local to Brussels. Worth a read if you’ve not already.

James

April 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

They just don’t understand me!

As a consultant in the public affairs sector here in Brussels I am beginning to sound a lot like many representatives of other industries I meet. The recent furor in the UK over ex-ministers allegedly seeking lobbying jobs with journalists posing as fake companies made me let out a cry of desperation and exclaim “they just don’t understand what we do!”

Before I start don’t get me wrong, the ministers concerned may or may not have broken any rules but I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t believe that they were just a little bit naive. Rather unhappily, they are not alone. I can’t speak for Westminster (having only ever worked here), but I would venture that any organisation that seeks to employ a public affairs professional in Brussels on the basis of their “access” is as misguided as our retiring former ministers. Alas, experience suggests that such organisations do exist.

Most policymakers in this town are reasonable people, who understand that they need input from the outside world on what they are discussing if they are to make good policy. Given the correct approach, most people of all levels will take the time to meet with you and give you a fair hearing. It is after all in their interests to hear your views. They are also intelligent people who will weigh what you say up with what they’ve heard from representatives of five other organisations that day, their own political stance and the people they represent. Securing a meeting with policymakers is as much about knowing who is working on a dossier, having something that is of interest to them to talk about and ensuring that you pick the right time to go speak to them as anything else. A good public affairs person in Brussels is going to be able to guide you on this through their knowledge of political  process and their expertise in political communication.

Existing relationships are of course useful and if you’ve been doing this any time you shall have them, but experience of working on some of the most bizarre dossiers in our legislative process suggests that they can be built relatively easily as long as you are giving useful insights. Indeed, sometimes having relationships work the other way round. As a former staffer of an MEP who I regarded as a friend, I have to admit on being harder on clients wanting to go see him than I would be on the same clients wanting to go see other MEPs. After all my friendship was at stake. Come along with people who wasted his time and our friendship may not have lasted very long.

James

April 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

Who said what last week on energy?

We’ve flagged our conference last week on financing Europe’s energy needs shamelessly on this blog in recent days and weeks. You’ll be happy to know, no more. This is the last reference to it we shall make. Just to note for the 150 souls that didn’t make it off the waiting list to gain entrance, many of the principal speakers agreed kindly to repeat some of their main points to camera post their conference interventions.

You can find everyone from Sharon Bowles MEP to Philip Lowe of DG Energy speaking on energy, climate and Europe here.

A highlight was hearing Dr. Fatih Birol from the IEA contrast the good that could come from Europe reasserting its leadership role on climate while warning Europe about the impact such leadership could have on European competitiveness. Jos Delbeke from the Commission perhaps unsurprisingly argued for a renewal of EU leadership in the field. Today’s Commission work programme suggests he may well win out.

James

March 31, 2010 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

Bilateral deals will open up EU trade

Eighteen months ago, when the world economy seemed on the brink of collapse, one of the biggest fears was that economic depression would trigger a global wave of protectionism. So it’s all the more surprising that Europe is busily working on new trade treaties. The EU is on the brink of finalising a major free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, has opened negotiations with Vietnam and Singapore and is aiming to conclude a deal with India by next October.

Bilateral agreements are being forged at the same time as global trade negotiations are blocked. The Doha Round seems completely becalmed, and unlikely to move as long as President Obama remains domestically on the defensive. There was some tut-tutting in Brussels when the US president announced a target of doubling of US exports, rather than a doubling of trade – but you can see his problem! Still, there is a G-20 commitment to finalise Doha by the end of 2010.

All the planned bilateral deals are giving the EU’s trade commissioner Karel de Gucht a busy year. His trip round the Asian countries earlier this month seems to have been highly productive. He returned home with an agreement to launch an FTA with Vietnam, the start of bilateral talks with Singapore and a “new impetus” for negotiations with India.

It certainly makes sense to strengthen trade relationships with these dynamic economies, but of course there will be resistance from some of Europe’s industrial players, for instance Europe’s automobile, textile and footwear industries, and no doubt from others who are concerned about the environmental or social aspects of potential deals.

The new elephant in the room is the European Parliament, newly empowered by the Lisbon Treaty as co-decider on international agreements. MEPs will want a big say in the negotiating process and will be no push-over in ratifying free trade agreements – see the letter to the Council from Vital Moreira, Chair of the EP Committee on International Trade, demanding more involvement.

As Commissioner de Gucht has said, putting the parliament on equal terms with the Council “will change the political environment and will also probably change my life”.

As a former MEP de Gucht knows the kind of problems to expect. For instance could the EU-South Korea FTA, which was initialled last October, be blocked by the Parliament because the death penalty has not been formally abolished in South Korea, or because public procurement liberalisation does not cover rail transport, where Alstom and others are facing discrimination in the Korean market?

The Koreans hope the deal will be signed off by the end of April. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

The economic impact of these EU-Asian FTAs is potentially enormous. With South Korea, for instance, whose EU trade in 2008 amounted to €65 billion, 97 per cent of tariffs would be abolished within three years, amounting to €1.6 billion saving for EU exporters. Both goods and services would be covered by the agreement, with clothing, luxury goods,  drinks, legal and financial services, pharmaceuticals, advanced engineering and low carbon technologies all expected to benefit.

A judicial dispute settlement mechanism would also be introduced.

As for other bilateral partners, EU-Vietnam trade amounted to €12 billion in 2008 and EU-Singapore trade to €55 billion. An agreement with India would be the biggest prize of all. The aim is to double bilateral trade to €150 billion dollars annually over the four years following a free trade deal.

If these agreements can be negotiated, ratified and implemented in the time scales envisaged it will be a major achievement for the new Commission and demonstrate a welcome resilience in Europe’s abilities to resist protectionism even in difficult times.

Michael

March 23, 2010 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

To Twitter or not to Twitter: use of digital tools in public affairs

Last week saw Fleishman-Hillard host a panel debate on the use of digital tools in public affairs and politics at the European Public Affairs Action Day. The videos of the contribution of our three speakers (Alexander Alvaro MEP, Pat Cleary of FH DC and Mark Redgrove of Orgalime) are now available on our YouTube channel here.

Here is the contribution of Alexander Alvaro MEP in two parts. The Q&A session of the panel discussion will be uploaded in coming days.

James

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December 9, 2009 at 11:53 am 3 comments

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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