Eurobleugh

image from www.nicetomeeteu.com


What’s wrong with you, you may well ask?

I’ve had a summer broadly off Euroblogging, in the main part because so little happens in Brussels in August.
I’ve also for work purposes avoided blogging on a number of EU-related issues which interest me.  A necessary sacrifice.
So EU-wise my blog’s been a bit quiet recently.

The thing is, I’ve also used the time to work out a bit what I care about, what motivates me to blog.   Yep, it’s my navel gazing post only a month after the majority of EU blogs went through this …

Over the last couple of years, my euroblogging has evolved to be focused on the UK’s relationship with the EU, and looking at the EU through a gender focus and faith focus.  I blog irregularly as I’ve other commitments, but I hope my slightly different take is interesting for my readers.  And I think overall I’m pretty happy with these things as my euroblogging USP.

I mean, I could critique the current common transport policy, the Tax Payers’ Alliance’s problems with the Trans European Networks Executive Agency, or seafarers and the ILO, but I’m not sure that would be very interesting.  I’ve tried to cover my interest in transport via practical posts on HS1 instead…
I’ve never cared a lot about agriculture beyond what I can see in the fields or arrives on my plate, and much as I care about climate change I’m just not sure enough on my numbers to do in-depth critiques of these sort of things.  So when I do do something in-depth, I probably do care about it, and I do know what I’m talking about.  I hope.
And have put off playing with my toddler to write it.

At the moment, with the “new school term” coming, I’m getting a bit of  a sinking back to school feeling.
I’m not quite sure why, but I suspect there’s an element of  not feeling very inspired by politics overall at the moment.

In the UK there’s a big and actually quite exciting political experiment going on – the first coalition government in a very long time and a referendum coming on a change to a voting system that none of the political parties specifically wants.
But while the big picture is exciting, day to day life is currently a question of which public service is going to change next and what does that mean for daily life for my friends and family.  And the attitude to the EU is – complicated.

And in the EU, there’s a weird sort of situation.
While the Lisbon Treaty is implemented (but hardly to public acclaim), and European External Action Service is established (and as male-dominated as we feared and expected), and the Council President is up and running (with an eye on consolidating a more wide ranging role during the Belgian Presidency of the EU), and all the little changes are put in place, I just don’t feel that there’s anything in particular to be enthusiastic about.
The euro is hanging in there, but I’m not finding discussions about greater economic governance inspiring – may be I would if the UK had been part of it and my daily life were being affected, but we’re not in “prepare and decide” mode any more, nor even “wait and see”.
And how long did it take the EU to get its act together for the people in Pakistan?

On top of that, I’m slowly realising that there’s no easy way back to Brussels in the near future.  To work there again any time soon, I’d need to make some pretty serious life changes.  I may not even work on EU issues soon.  But that gives me more scope to blog :)

I’m never going to be a daily blogger, or a several-times-a-day one.
I’m fed up with feeling that unless you can give all hours of the day to something, you are ancillary to it.  How on earth can any parent give 100% to anything, including their kids, and still make a difference in their other spheres of interest?  Why can’t the quality of contribution count as well as quantity?
And when it’s something I do for the fun of it, to test ideas and provoke conversations, I’m certainly not buying into a set of rules of the how and when.  I’m definitely a cat to herd rather than a sheep and so I guess I know I’m in good company in the euroblogging world :)

So I’m feeling a bit Eurobleugh.
I’m not in the mood for flannel, or theory over experience and applied example.
I want to know that it’s all worthwhile, that there really is an added value to me as a citizen in what’s going on – at all levels of decision-making.
I guess it’d be lovely to be seeing something happening that actually makes a difference for the good, rather than being the least worst option available.

So now I’ve got all that off my chest, let’s start September euroblogging with a positive attitude and see if there’s some good, persuasive arguments for what’s going on out there…

Doing the job: debating the top euroblogs?


Well, if the Waagener Edstrom list of the most influential euroblogs was designed to provoke debate, it certainly has done amongst the eurobloggers.

Jon Worth, the fifth most influential according to the list, had to invite himself to the study’s launch.
Nosemonkey, whose authoritative, informative blog is regularly nominated for best blog awards finished outside the top 10.

Eurogoblin
, Mathew’s Tagsmanian Devil(top 20!) and EURoman (a site I’ll admit I’d never heard of before today have all critiqued in a lot of detail.

For me, a few thoughts:
1)  the USA is being held up as the model against which to judge how influential the EU blogosphere is – but is that a realistic comparison?
Is it actually what people writing euroblogs are aspiring to?

Importing a methodology used in the US and the comparisons with the US blogging scene as if this something that the Euroblogosphere should be aspired to become like may also have added to the distortionary effect.

The EU is not the USA, and I don’t think it’s right to say one if  ahead of or more advance than the other.  The US doesn’t have the multicultural, multilingual diversity of the EU at its federal level, so while an English-language blog in the US might have a widespread influence, one in Brussels might have a lesser impact, similarly one in French, German etc. as the potential audience reading in that language for interest and pleasure is smaller.
Plus with Jon Worth announcing he’s moving to London, Nosemonkey in London, ghost blogger Julien Frisch until recently in Germany, Joe Litobarski in Italy, is labelling it  the “Brussels Blog” survey really getting the full EU blogging picture?  I agree with EURoman Christian, local interpretation of EU stories is definitely an important factor.

I’m also not convinced that there has to be “a purpose”- the best euroblogs from my reading perspective are those where the author’s found something of interest and run with it because they are interested, not because they are paid to do so, or are single purpose.

Eurobloggers that are most interesting to me tend to be amateur rather than professional journalists – that’s why the alternative views can prevail.

While the excellent bloggingportal team tries to galvinise us into something more coherent, the actual effect has been a bit like trying to herd cats.

2)  What are Eurobloggers writing about?
While in the US the Washington world is probably exciting enough to fully occupy bloggers, most EU blogs I read seem to also have interest in other things – whether that’s Jon Worth’s sportsblog or Joe Litobarski’s musings from Ethiopia.

I’m an occasional euroblogger, who, through a combination of not-covering-some-things-because-I-value-my-job and blogging on things other than the EU (primarily parenting, feminism, local issues and faith), is never going to make it high up the Euroblog rankings.

That’s fine by me – I was flattered to even be listed in Fleishman-Hillard’s citizen blogs list for just that reason-

4) Where did the blogs under consideration come from?
While I understand that my own blog’s too random to fit the primarily EU-focussed criteria, I’m a bit surprised that none of the blogs of the EU girl geeks appear even to have been in consideration: where was Europasionaria? Euonym? Lino the Rhino?
Or did I just miss the longlist of blogs that were considered?

3) Twitter is where it’s at…
While eurobloggers do try to take time to comment on each other’s blogs, as Eurogoblin points out, it’s Twitter where we really talk to each other, share information, views, debate and discuss.  And all in 140 characters.
The last great Euroblogger meet-up online was hosted on Skype in the end, with Twitter and Googlewave elements.
So we have to ask – to shape debate in social media- whether our individual blogs are the place where that’s done most effectively is a debate for another day…

Eurobloggers United…

Well, it actually happened and I was there.

What was this momentous event?

It was the first get together of eurobloggers.  At Joe Litobarski’s instigation we met online – initally via twitter, Google wave, IM etc. but actually in the end via Skype’s IM system after a conference call for more than 20 proved unwieldy (and my microphone wouldn’t turn off, meaning everyone could hear my toddler enjoying the Sarah Jane Adventures).

We discussed overcoming language issues in EU blogging – en anglais English, evidemment (something that makes me as a native English speaker both grateful and a bit guilty) – and the solution to better linking up and boosting the readership of EU blogs and conversations between bloggers is likely to be a bit linguistic, a bit techie, and reliant on the willingness and goodwill of all those involved.
I couldn’t stay for it all – evening events tend to end up clashing with toddler bed time although he did very well and his fathe’s arrival home meant I wasn’t too neglectful, but eventually bedtime had to come.

Congratulations, Joe, on a great initiative.  And it was lovely to meet everyone.
Now let’s see where we can go from here!