Posts tagged ‘Council of Ministers’

Council’s website: a symbol for all that’s wrong with the EU?

Council of the European UnionImage via Wikipedia

Some of us have had a particular bugbear about the Council of Minister’s lack of transparency for some time now. We’ve even taken the time to write irate letters to the FT on the subject (much to the shock of colleagues it must be admitted).

Ok, so Council has opened up to hold “public deliberations” (mostly on topics where agreement has already been reached), but the single most annoying thing about the Council (other than the fact that it continues to believe that it is an intergovernmental institution, rather than just one part of a bicameral legislature) is its website. Frankly, the way it is designed to obfuscate and confuse. It is a symbol for all that is wrong in the institution as a whole.

As colleagues have pointed out, trying to find a document – any document – that relates to Council discussions on a particular legislative text is annoyingly hard (sometimes impossible). The only way to do it is a search through the document registry by COD number, keyword or date or browse a long list of latest documents and hope you strike gold. It’s annoying for us and this is what we do for a living – imagine you’re an interested citizen seeking to understand the way Council deals with legislation (long shot, I know).

Of course once you find a relevant document, it doesn’t mean that you can access it online. No, it’s most likely restricted and you have to ask for permission to see it. A few weeks later you’ll get a reply, by which stage if you are anything like we are you will have found another way to get sight of it or at the very least understand the contents of it. We never quite understood the rationale here. Surely all documents should be available unless public authorities can prove them to be sensitive for some reason. The burden being on the public institutions to prove sensitivity rather than the citizen to prove that he/she should have access to them. Frankly, sometimes I request restricted documents because as a citizen I think it my right and duty to keep the Council on its toes.

We are spurred to write this particular rant as while perusing the Council’s latest documents list, we found this document – a handy breakdown of the Working Parties that exist under each Council formation. It occured to us that if Council can produce this, they can also produce a website whereby for each Council formation you can click on each working group, see the agendas of the meetings and all the documents under discussion. Almost like the Council meetings were plenary sessions and the Working Parties committees…My god, the Council website could even be like the Parliament site before the EP decided to take a leaf out of the Council’s book.

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July 9, 2008 at 6:13 pm 5 comments

Big Friday: surfing the eutube

It has been a while since we looked at the YouTube activities of our elected and non-elected officials here in Brussels. As its Friday, we thought we do a round robin of the EU actors we have come across with audiovisual content on YouTube. If you know of more, please do let us know.

EU Institutions

  • European Commission – sweaty from the sex sells success, they still lead the way in populating the web with EU content (nearly a million channel views and over 4,000 subscribers).
  • European Parliament – one video and about as many regular visitors as this blog.
  • Council – does anyone else see the irony in “Council Live“? In any case we couldn’t find the Council on YouTube but the Portuguese Presidency does have a library of press conferences available to download.

European Parliament Political Groups

  • UKIP – A small national party rather than a European parliamentary group, we grant you. Despite holding none too popular views in Brussels some of their videos make us chuckle.

Members of the European Parliament

There is of course the question of how successful these efforts are in reaching out to potential voters, or even supporters, both on their own and relative to each other.

Happily, we have started to come across tools that will help us map the progress made such as TubeMogul. Once you register, for free, not only can you upload your video to multiple platforms at the click of a button but you can also compile and contrast visitor data over time for your video and that of others.

A visit to the US based Viral Video charts, who offer a tracking and analysis service for a fee to professionals as well as a chart of political videos, reminds us however that the online world can hinder as well as help our politicians.

Our top three European political video bloopers in reverse order:

3. Commission President Barroso comparing Europe to an empire

2. French President Sarkozy appearing to have had a little too much to drink (BTW – he had not)

1. Belgian politician and potential Prime Minister Yves Leterme singing the Marseillaise instead of the Belgian national anthem (BTW – clearly he was joking)

September 14, 2007 at 3:50 pm Leave a 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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