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    December 13th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere

    This weekend I had the pleasure to be invited by the great folks of the office of the European Parliament in Spain to a roundtable on how to communicate Europe online along with about 50 bloggers, journalists, EU officials, and MEPs. I was asked to make a presentation on the topic of “How to communicate Europe through social media” on behalf of the Blogging Portal. My grandparents fled Spain in 1939 because of the civil war. So for the French woman of Spanish origin that I am, being invited in Cordoba to talk about Europe, which is above all a project of peace, was very symbolic and also quite emotional.

    Although I am following closely what’s happening in the French and English-speaking Euroblogospheres, I am not too aware of what’s going on in the Spanish one. This meeting was a true crash course. It’s always good to get out of the EU bubble. In Brussels we live and breathe Europe. Having regular meetings with national actors is not only beneficial but also essential. In the end, the Cordoba meeting was exactly the breath of fresh air I needed after 3 hard-working months. And I’m back to Brussels overwhelmed with ideas. Talking about them all would probably take about 10 posts. But here are my general impressions of the meeting.

    Spain is different

    You wouldn’t believe this. The meeting started with an “ola” performed by the 50 participants around the table. The “ola” is the human wave you see supporters do at football games. This reflected the general atmosphere of the gathering: friendly, laid-back, and above all, cooperative. I’ve previously written that I would like to see more public figures talk about Europe with passion. Not surprisingly I found passion in Spain this weekend. Cultural difference? Probably.

    Communicating Europe vs communicating between Europeans

    The main point I wanted to make during my presentation was that in today’s networked world, European institutions should stop trying to “communicate Europe”, as if Europe was a message to broadcast to the masses, and start interacting i.e. talking about Europe between Europeans. As Pau Solanilla from Europeando.eu pointed out: “Either we understand that hierarchy is not the organising principle anymore or we haven’t understood anything”. In social media, communication is personal. You will not be successful communicating online if you speak as an institution. Therefore, European institutions should give away a bit of control and allow its representatives to speak, not as institutions, but as people working in institutions. Bárbara Quílez, who is in charge of the European Parliament’s web page in Spanish, made a very subtle remark on this point: “We [European civil servants] can humanise Europe, not personalise it”. Indeed, it’s about giving Europe a face, not about being the face of Europe.

    In the end it’s all about relationships

    According to Pau Solannilla, networked communication is about content, channels, and relationships. The success of the meeting in Cordoba demonstrated something online activists know very well. Building relationships online leads to strong relationships offline. Although I have been interacting for months with all the Spanish Eurobloggers who attended the meeting, I had never met them in real life. My experience has showed me that online activities are always strengthened after bloggers meet in person. That’s why meetings such as the Cordoba one are essential.

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.[1]

    On Saturday #PEredes, the hashtag used at our meeting in Cordoba managed to get into the Twitter trending topics in Spain, and talking about Europe at that! For Europe to be in the public debate, it just takes a full room of EU geeks and good wifi.

    At our meeting, Susana Del Río, a sociologist specialising in European communication said: “Debate between Europeans creates political creativity”. I couldn’t agree more, Europe is the future of politics. Nowadays throughout the Western world, democracy is in disarray: low election turnouts, falling numbers of party memberships, lack of trust in politicians… we are all politically disenchanted. In such a situation, speaking about politics between Europeans can lead to new solutions and regained interest in politics. The European Union is a UPO, an unidentified political object. It is up to us, European citizens, to shape it the way we would like it to be. As Francisco Luis Benítez put it: “Europe is worth it”.

    Eventually I would say that the initiative of Ignacio Samper’s team of the European Parliament’s office in Spain has led the way. We need similar meetings held in other European countries. I would like to see this happening in France, for example, where the blogosphere is one of the most dynamic in Europe. On top of it, I would like to see a general Euroblogger meeting organised in Brussels. European Parliament, do you read me?

    [1] Margaret Mead, American anthropologist

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    November 24th, 2010EuropasionariaLife, Web 2.0

    Watch this hilarious video about the use of Facebook by the elderly. If you don’t understand Spanish, what’s below will definitively make you regret it. It was posted on Facebook by my fabulous aunt who joined Facebook just a couple of months ago, and immediately shared on her wall by my 70-year-old mum who just joined Facebook as well and who is, just like my aunt, showing a remarkable ability to use it. To put things in perspective: a month ago my mum asked me to explain to her what a blog was…

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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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    July 24th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere, France

    Thanks to the European blog search engine Wikio, there is now no need anymore to speak 5 languages to discover the best European blogs. Each day on e-blogs, blogposts from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are selected and translated into 5 languages. What a fantastic initiative! Bravo Wikio!

    As far as translation is concerned, there is a novelty on this blog too. As a matter of principle, this blog is already bilingual. Almost all articles are available in English here and in French there. I took that decision right from the beginning in order to present a French view on European affairs to English speakers on one hand, and to build bridges between the Euroblogosphere and the French blogosphere on the other hand. However the fact that Spanish Eurobloggers such as Encarna of Más Europa, Emilio of europe@s and Jorge Juan of Cuidadano Morante have recently started to comment in Spanish on this blog pushed me to do more for multilinguism. This is why below the language button you can now see a Google translate button for all the people who are not comfortable with either English or French. This button can also be used to translate comments you don’t understand the language of, and even to reply in a language you can’t speak! Amazing, isn’t it?

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    June 6th, 2010EuropasionariaEurope, Girl Power

    Looking at people’s reactions to my pseudonym, I have come to realise that unless you are Spanish or French, there is little chance that you understand what it means. So I thought it deserved an explanation.

    First, Europasionaria = Euro+Pasionaria, and not Europa+Sionaria. That should already make things clearer to some of you.

    How did it come up to my mind? I wanted my pseudonym to start by Euro and to reflect what I am. I had thought of it many times, had several ideas, yet couldn’t find something that felt right.

    Then one dark Friday night, it came to me. I am a passionate person, an idealist, a strong woman… I am also of Spanish origin. So the word “pasionaria” came to my mind. Europasionaria was born.

    Alright… but what does “pasionaria” mean?

    Passion Flower - CC Nikonsnapper on Flickr

    Europasionaria: French and Spanish, passionate about politics, passionate about Europe, flower of the European passion… I liked all of these associations of ideas. Besides, I just liked the sound of it. Words with lots of “A”s in them just sound better.

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