Posts tagged ‘activism’

What do you mean you don’t have a website?

This morning, on my way back to the office, a marching brass band, 10 three-meter tall cardboard smokestacks and a few dozen people in black t-shirts carrying black balloons that read ‘NO MORE COAL’ headed the other direction towards the European Parliament building. I asked a girl for the group’s website address, hoping to learn more.

“We don’t have a website”, but she handed me a flyer.

What do you mean you don’t have a website?! She explained “We’re a coalition of groups, so you can get information on any of our websites”.

The groups involved, according to the black and white flyer, are WWF, CAN Europe, Greenpeace, Friends of Earth Europe, die klima-allianz, Christian aid, and the World Development Movement. Clearly this coalition invested a lot of time and money into the event, and I can’t help but think that they made a massive oversight by not having a website or a microsite for the event.

The cynic may point out that since Fleishman-Hillard offers a full-service digital group that builds anything from fancy emails to websites of all shapes and sizes, then of course we would argue that every event needs its own website. But in this day and age, with the low costs of websites, I can’t see any reason to not have at least a one page microsite or a dedicated page on an existing website, no matter how short-lived the event.

Just on the other side of Place du Luxembourg, one can see a digitally-driven campaign. Vattenfall has placed a massive digital screen asking people to go online and ‘Sign the climate manifesto’. The engaging website has a live webcam of the screen on Place du Luxembourg and a video of what happens when you ‘sign’ the online manifesto.

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October 7, 2008 at 4:17 pm 1 comment

EU receives petition of 1.294.997 signatures on disability rights

This morning saw the European Disability Forum hand over an EU wide petition of over a million signatures to the European Commission. The petition calls for stronger disability legislation in Europe. Under the new Reform Treaty:

“Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties.”

Interestingly, the 1million4disability press release suggests that only around a sixth of the signatures were gathered online, perhaps reflecting the already strong network of the national NGOs who collaborated in the Forum. These groups presumably already have strong support bases who be motivated relatively easily to sign such a general statement that has a direct personal relevance to many of them.

There has been some debate about how easy gathering the requisite number of EU wide petitions will be. Well so far so good, the oneseat.eu campaign managed it and now so have the European Disability Forum. While 1 million may seem a lot of signatures, it is a mere 0.2 percent of the EU population and divided by 27 Member States around 37,000 signatures a piece. European organisations with strong national databases of supporters should be able to gather such numbers with a manageable amount of effort. For those who don’t have such ready-made networks, the internet should offer a platform for creating them given the right issue, resources and tactics.

Of course the question then becomes whether Brussels will listen? Clearly such a petition puts the issue on the Commission’s table. But it also helps if the people you are trying to influence actually have an ability to do something about the issue. The oneseat campaign faced the issue that only the unanimous agreement of the Member States can change the seat of the European Parliament. The Commission has no competence to act despite people power. Their petition probably in the end had a little effect on a problem that can only be solved by a rather large swallowing of gallic pride.

In the case of this new petition, things look more rosy. A Commission cabinet official commented this morning that while the Commission was under no legal obligation under the new Treaty to act on the basis of such petitions, it would find it politically difficult to ignore. With connecting with the citizens/consumers a mantra of the current Commission, it would appear that all those seeking to influence policy in Brussels would be wise to consider when and how to make use of such techniques in the future.

November 22, 2007 at 2:42 pm 1 comment

PES launch online manifesto debate for 2009

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The Party of European Socialists are proudly trumpeting the fact that they will be the first European party to develop their manifesto through an open dialogue using web-based tools. Their manifesto website features blogs, buttons, video, photos using flickr and links to events. Party activists can register to get involved both online and offline. Party leader, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, features in the opening teaser YouTube video.

No doubt the PES hope that these activities will mobilise local party activists in the run up to the elections and allow them to feel that the manifesto is in effect theirs as much as it is that of the PES. Painful personal experience from last time around suggests that there is nothing more important. It’s always a tad disheartening to find that half the local constituency party activists are refusing to put the European elections leaflet through letterboxes on the opening day of your campaign.

Two questions remain. 1. How far will national parties allow the PES manifesto to be the one that is communicated to voters in 2009? 2. Can the PES avoid falling into the trap of Segolene Royal in France?

October 10, 2007 at 4:54 pm 1 comment


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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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