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    November 15th, 2013EuropasionariaEurope

    [This post is in Italian as part of the Day of Multilingual Blogging]

    L’ultima volta che ho scritto per la giornata del blogging plurilingue, l’ho fatto in spagnolo. Spiegavo che questo blog è per principio bilingue: inglese e francese, le due lingue in cui mi esprimo meglio. Questa volta ho voluto provare una lingua che non so ancora parlare : l’italiano. Il mio compagno ha tradotto questo articolo, nell’attesa che io cominci ad imparare questa lingua. La capisco già. E principalmente dovuto alla mia conoscenza del francese e dello spagnolo, certo, che fanno parte della famiglia delle lingue neolatine. Ma il più straordinario, capisco l’italiano grazie alla mia conoscenza del’inglese !

    Si si, uno non ci pensa, ma se quello che mi è stato detto una volta è vero, pare che la lingua inglese sia in realtà basata al 80% sul latino. Ai linguisti che leggeranno questo articolo, è vero ? La giornata europea del blogging plurilingue è un’iniziativa organizzata dal scrittrice del blog EUonym per la quale i bloguers scrivono un articolo in una lingua differente di quella che usano abitualmente. Perché più si conoscono delle lingue, più si può parlare a persone differenti, e perché più si parla, più si risolvono le tensioni tra di noi. Imparare delle lingue è la chiave della pace tra i popoli. Dai, imparate pure voi una nuova lingua!

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    February 20th, 2012EuropasionariaBrussels, Europe, Life

    Like many expats, Brussels was not a choice of love but one of reason. I came here for work. I had tried first to find a job in which I would combine my passions for Europe and for politics in Amsterdam, a city I fell madly in love with at first sight. But there was no job for me there. I tried in Paris too but it also turned out unsuccessful. I didn’t want to work in the Euro-bubble of Brussels because I thought Europe should be everywhere. Being surrounded by people who live and breathe Europe didn’t seem to be the best way to give a push forward to Europe and be its advocate. I wanted to spread the word to the world. I wanted to share my love for Europe with people who wouldn’t have a clear idea of what it consists in. But I also wanted to live from this passion. That’s how I ended up in Brussels. I’ve been here for six years now.

    The mess

    © Frederic della Faille

    At first, Brussels drove me crazy. Nothing worked. The general mess exasperated me. But little by little, I found those little flaws endearing and funny. I like this chaos now because it’s always surprising. When Parisians visit me in my lovely Brussels and I see them getting upset à la parisienne at the malfunctioning of the city, it makes me smile. I tell them then: “welcome to Brussels”, with a big smile on my face, tell them not to be bothered, to relax, and to cheer and enjoy. Brussels is surreal. It’s part of its charm.

    A beauty to discover

    © Geert Schneider

    After a year and a half, I understood I was here to stay. I had explored the city. Even if it didn’t have the stunning beauty of Paris or the simple beauty of Amsterdam, it was beautiful too. Brussels’s beauty is full of flaws and surprises. For who knows how to look, Brussels contains a flock of hidden treasures. For example, on a sunny day, you look up and notice this gorgeous little art nouveau house, which you’ve passed by every day but never paid attention to.

    A capital-village

    © Marc Delforge

    I like the capital-village aspect of Brussels. Human-sized capital, Brussels has the best of both worlds: big enough so as never to be bored but small enough not to feel dehumanised by the anonymity of big cities. When I go out in Brussels, I always meet people I know, but not too many –that would be smothering- just enough to feel warm.

    European laboratory

    © David Kenny

    During a single night in Brussels, I can use the four languages I speak, a delight for language lovers. And being able to make plans on how to save the world around a beer with Greeks, Brits, Spanish, Italians, Poles, and Germans, is one of the most beautiful adventures one can experience. It happens to me every day.

    Brussels and I had been living together for three years when one day it stroke me. It was a beautiful day and I told myself that I liked this city more and more. Since then, I often get this feeling. I look up, notice a lovely little detail that I had so far ignored, I take a deep breath of humid air, and tell her: Brussels, every day that goes by I love you more and more.

    Did you like this post? You might also like Paris, je t’aime… moi non plus

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    July 22nd, 2011EuropasionariaEurope, Life

    22 July 2011. I’m in Brussels. Tweets of Norwegian friends inform me that a bomb has exploded in the centre of Oslo. Another tweet from them later informs me that there’s also been a shooting at the Norwegian Labour party youth conference.  At this stage, we still don’t know what happened exactly. As I watch the news giving more details about the events, I feel a mix of anger and despair. I know this feeling too well.

    25 July 1995. I’m in Paris. I hear there have been bombs in the busiest metro station of Paris. My family and I are aghast. My aunt commutes through this station to go to work. She was fine. Since then, seeing armed soldiers in the Parisian metro’s corridors has become usual. But I never got used to it.

    11 September 2001. I’m in a car with my father somewhere between Grenoble and Paris. He’s just helped me find an apartment in Grenoble where I’m about to move. It’s around 2pm. We hear on the radio that a plane has crashed in one of the Twin towers in New York. Analysts say that’s when the 21st century really started, just as WWI was the real beginning of the 20th century.

    11 March 2004. I’m living in Amsterdam in a shared flat with 12 other people. 8 of them are Spanish. I look at their mortified faces as they watch the Spanish national television relate the bomb attacks in trains close to Madrid.

    7 July 2005. I’m still in Amsterdam. It’s early. I get out of bed, turn on the TV and soon realise there’s been bomb attacks in the London Tube. My boyfriend is still asleep. One of my best friends lives in London.

    We all remember where we were during these events. I always get the same weird confused sensation: a mix of incomprehension, helplessness and pessimism for the future of humanity. I try to avoid anger. Violence begets violence. And violence is never a solution.


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    May 9th, 2011EuropasionariaEurope, France

    Last year on May 9, I wrote about the origins of my passion for Europe. I originated it in the story of my family, partly through that of my grandfather -born during World War I- who fought during World War II. In his last speech to the European Parliament in 1995, François Mitterrand said: “A twist of fate had me born during World War I and fight for World War II.”

    A twist of fate had it that today is Europe Day and tomorrow the thirtieth anniversary of François Mitterrand‘s election to the Presidency of the French Republic. This man has always reminded me of my grandfather. Although there was little physical resemblance, they shared a certain intellectual elegance. They both were educated men, close to the rural roots of France, and both witnessed the worst atrocities.

    A twist of fate had me born during the first European elections by universal suffrage. Two years later, François Mitterrand became “le Président”. He was still President when I was 15. I grew up with him. So much that it was unconceivable for me that another man could be President. Today I’m more interested in European politics than French politics. Still there’s something I’m missing on both scenes. National discourses and European discourses alike lack vision. Where are the charismatic figures à la Mitterrand? Where are the visionaries able to rouse the masses enthusiasm? Who is able today to shift mindsets with a mere speech?

    A twist of fate also had the last WWI veteran die a few days ago. The rejection of war, the quest for peace built the European integration. My generation hasn’t lived during wartime. Reminding that we owe the longest period of peace our continent has known to the European construction is not enough to rouse young adults’ enthusiasm for the European project. We need a new vision and visionaries to lift and carry it along. What will be the European project of the 21st century? Blog out!

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    May 9th, 2011EuropasionariaEurope

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    March 15th, 2011EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere, Europe

    Or is it the opposite? Last week with fellow Blogging Portal editor Ronny Patz, we became the first bloggers to be granted an accreditation from the Council. Actually, it was also the first time bloggers got press accreditation to a European institution.

    A blogger tweeting with a press accreditation. Welcome to 21st century communication!

    We covered the Competitiveness Council for 2 days – well actually Ronny covered 2 days, I could only cover the second morning. This happened thanks to the spokespeople of the Hungarian presidency aka Kovács & Kováts, whom we’ve met a few times since the beginning of the year to discuss the activities they could do online. Trust was built throughout these initial meetings. And with a little push from our two supporters, we got offered accreditations as a pilot project. This time only Ronny and I could go. Well yes, the other bloggers are either not Brussels-based or had day commitments they couldn’t get away from.

    Dana_Council, EU Girl Geek and Council insider, showed us around the building and even gave us the opportunity to visit the Council meeting room, yes the one where you usually see Nicolas Sarkozy giving a pat on the back of fellow heads of State.

    Then we spent most of our time in the Council’s press room – well one of the many Council press rooms – following the Council live, tweeting and blogging it (read here our coverage of day 1 and day 2). It was fun to be there with journalists, interesting to see how they work and to get a feel of the overall vibes of a Council.

    For the sake of the blogosphere, we behaved so hopefully this pilot will open the door to more regular blogger participation in this kind of event. But then, what bloggers should get an accreditation? What should be the criteria? This is quite a Pandora’s box. Many discussions have already taken place on this topic and many will in the future. I’d be interested in knowing your views on that.

    From our experience at the Council, I see a few bloggers’ qualities that can bring value in getting them to cover European institutions’ events:

    • We don’t have a format constraint. We can blog as we wish, about what we want, using the tone we like. As a consequence, what we do is more spontaneous and human.
    • Being outsiders, we have a different view on things. We get surprised at the things around us and talk about details of the institution’s workings journalists wouldn’t cover for news outlets as it would probably not get the interest of a wide public.
    • One big plus was our live tweeting. Minute after minute we tweeted details of the Council and our impressions. As @Wed2EU put it, we helped EU geeks stay much closer than usual to the Council’s action.

    I hope we opened a door. Let’s see what happens in the future!

    Would you like to know more? Mathew Lowry is keeping track of all that’s written on this pilot project.

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    February 7th, 2011EuropasionariaEurope

    The spokespeople of the Hungarian presidency have reached out to the Blogging Portal editors to start a discussion on how to use online media to talk about the Council’s work. It has to be said that they got in touch with us long before the controversy around the Hungarian media law started, and that these people are not entitled to speak about it as of course, it’s a national matter and their mandate is to talk about EU matters.

    After long debates within the Blogging Portal editor team, we decided to go and see what they wanted to talk about with us.

    A small delegation of us went and met them a week ago. We had a great meeting, truly fun and inspiring. After 2 hours of open-hearted conversation, Gergely Polner, our host, stood up and I realised he was wearing trainers, something that was quite in contradiction with the classic suit and tie outfit he was wearing. Yes diplomats wear trainers too… because they are people too, just like the rest of us. Something most commentators of public life often forget.

    Gergely Polner and Marton Hajdu have decided to open up a blog to share their experience as spokespeople of the EU presidency. It’s called Kovács & Kováts as a reference to the Tintin characters of Thomson and Thompson, Dupond and Dupont in French. The challenge: telling their own experience of the Council using the voice of people and not only that of institution representatives. Their initiative is truly innovative. Older generations of diplomats might consider it a “faux pas”, as Kovács & Kováts put it on their blog. Indeed, diplomats just as any other civil servants are not supposed to express their personal views on things. So how can they open a blog where articles are by definition personal? It is quite a challenge, indeed. But, actually in today’s world there’s not really another way. So long live their blog and let it show the way to future Council presidency spokespeople.

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    January 6th, 2011EuropasionariaEurope, Girl Power

    I’ve found on Un Européen jamais content this promotional video of Hungary, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary. According to that footage, the Hungarians invented a lot of useful stuff such as the automatic gearbox, the autoexposure still camera, the refrigerator, the articulated bus, the soft contact lenses, gramophone records, Excel, and the colour TV set.

    Wow! What a great country, right?

    I liked this video. I thought it was good. Very good promotion indeed… until minute 6:45 where after informing us about all the great things Hungarian men invented they tell us, randomly, that… they also have “the most beautiful women on earth”! First, that’s probably far from true. Then, why do they need to say that exactly? Is that a touristic attraction? It’s totally out of place. Sorry, it completely ruined it for me.

    PS: I love Hungary. Fun people, good food, great wines, fantastic lake Balaton, and also the ugliest men on earth… just kidding 😉

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    November 11th, 2010EuropasionariaEurope

    On this Armistice Day, I think the first article I published on this blog is quite appropriate. It was published on Europe Day, quite symbolically. It talks about war and peace, cultural stereotypes and the relationship between the French and the Germans. You can read it here.

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    October 21st, 2010EuropasionariaEurope, Girl Power

    Susana del Río, a woman with a passion

    I cannot count how many times I’ve heard that Europe is boring, complex, technical, not fun, etc. However, I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the people I’ve heard talk about Europe with passion. Thanks to Alejandro from La traducción es la lengua de Europa, I’ve found a new one. A Spanish woman at that.

    Alejandro has translated into English an interview of Susana del Río, an expert in European communication, that was originally published in Spanish on Encarna’s blog Más Europa. This is a great read for anyone who is genuinely interested in the European project as a grassroots-led movement.

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