Category Archives: EC in UK

Goodbye media, hello communication

As of tomorrow, my role in this office will change. I will no longer be the head of media, dealing with the press, TV, radio, agencies and online journalists that I have dealt with in the last 3 and a bit years. Instead I will be responsible for our publications, websites and digitial media, relations with NGOs and the voluntary sector, foreign languages, information networks and parts of England outside London. I hope this new post will give me a bit more time (and, to be honest, some renewed enthusiasm) for this blog. Time will tell…

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Statement by EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard on UK’s long-term carbon target

 ”I welcome the ambitious goal announced by the United Kingdom’s government today to reduce emissions 50 per cent under 1990 levels by 2025. This is an outstanding example of strong willingness to act despite difficult economic times. It also confirms that clever climate policies are not only about climate alone; they are also about improving energy security, stimulating innovation, raising competitiveness, and creating economic growth and jobs. With this decision, the UK seizes a huge economic and innovation opportunity that will make its economy more competitive in the future”

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My take on social media in the Commission

I was asked to write an article for our intranet about the use of social media in London. Thought I would reprint it here, as I would be grateful for comments.

There’s no doubt that social media is the latest thing in communication terms. If I had an extra 10 minutes in the day for every unsolicited email I get marketing new ways to “optimise my social media presence” or “enhance my social media ROI” I’d be able to get a lot more done. But it’s not clear to everyone what social media is and how it can be used effectively. The London rep has built up some experience in the field that Well’Comm has asked me to share with you.

 1. What makes media social?

 The predominant principle of social media is that it’s two way. If you post on your Facebook page, people will comment, and will expect a response. If you have a Twitter account, you will get the most out of it if you follow and interact with other people. If you write a blog, you will need to respond to (sensible…) comments. Your success in these media will depend on how much you do so – broadcast only is not an option. This direct contact is why we in London started working with social media in the first place – it allows people to hear our side of the story, to question us about it and to get replies to their own questions, all of which helps breakdown our remote “ivory tower” image in this country.

 2. Who uses social media?

 Effective communication relies on getting the right medium for a particular message and audience. With social media, this is not only true, it is easy to measure. Platforms such as Hootsuite have integrated analytical tools that let you see how your tweets are being viewed and from where. New Twitter analysis tools such as Tweetreach and Twitalyzer are being developed all the time. Facebook insights give a demographic breakdown and show your most popular posts. Different groups use social media in different ways and on different platforms, so it’s really worth doing your research. Know who your audience are, choose the best tools to reach them and be clear about what you trying to say or do. Calls to action (“register here for…”, “send us your…” “tell us your…”) usually work better than general information messages Check out what your target community is doing and where they are talking to each other. Use the site analytics for your existing digital work to find out where they come from and what information they consume and use this to choose the best social media channel. Find examples in your field that you would like to emulate and work out what makes them successful and how you can translate that to your activity. 31 million people in the UK have internet, 89% have a mobile phone and 42% of those are smartphones. Therefore digital communication has to be a core element of our communication here at the London rep. Our Facebook insights show that our major demographic (65% of our users) is the 18-34 age-group, so we tend to orient what we do to this group. Our most popular items tend to be those focussing on careers and specific issues for students and young people.

 3. There’s more to social media than Twitter and Facebook

 All the talk at the moment is of Twitter and Facebook, but there’s more to social media than those two platforms, important though they are. Social media is at its heart about connecting people and this can be done in many ways. Having a Flickr account for your photos (preferably with a Creative Commons license so people can actually use them!) and YouTube/DailyMotion for your videos is one thing. You can make collaborative maps using Google Maps. You can highlight your expertise on a particular issue in Quora. You can make your presentations public and invite people to comment on them. You can use LinkedIn to find professionals interested in your issue. Of course all of these feed into and off each other – you can tweet your answers to Quora questions, repost your blog entry on Facebook and so on.

 So, if you want to stick your toe in the social media pond, you could do worse than consider Jim Benson’s 10 principles of social media. I’m off to tweet the link to his blogpost…!

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The David and Maros show

One of the things we do a lot of in this office, and more so since the new government came into power, is talking to people about what they could expect from a career working for an EU organisation. I’ve written about some recent events such as the FCO’s launch event in October last year, our Q&A webchat on the Guardian site, the language careers event in June 2010, and a week of several events in March. Last week I was filmed for a site that the FCO are creating and will be launched in early February – I’ll blog about that when it goes live. Now Boris Johnson’s economics adviser, who I knew when he was a correspondent in Brussels, plows in to the debate with a piece in City AM. And then I come across this from the Europe Minister and European Commissioner Sefcovic, which I do like. 

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The European Court of Human Rights is NOT an EU institution

Here’s the text of a note we sent to newsdesks at the end of last year, which bears repeating:

Information note to Newsdesks: European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not part of the European Union (EU)

Newsdesks and subeditors are asked to note that decisions of the European Court of Human Rights should not be referred to as EU decisions, and the judgements should not be attributed to “EU judges”, or any similar language. The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe, a completely separate organisation to the European Union. The UK is a founding member of the Council of Europe, which was created in 1949 by the Treaty of London.

Council of Europe website: http://www.coe.int

Membership of the Council of Europe is now a precondition of EU membership, but the UK was a member of the CoE long before it joined the Common Market/ECC/EU and if it left the EU, I very very much doubt it would leave the CoE, and certainly wouldn’t do so automatically.

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Why the UK is in the EU

Our monitoring of Parliamentary Questions spat this one up today. Self-explanatory really.

Mr Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the letter from the Minister for Europe of 11 November 2010, on the European Union Bill, for what reasons his Department believes that the present terms of UK membership of the EU are in the national interest. [32632]
Mr Lidington: There are many things about the EU we would like to change. However, membership of the EU gives UK business full access to the world’s most important trading zone, comprising 500 million consumers without the barriers of customs or tariffs. This is of great importance to the UK’s prosperity. 10% (3.5 million) of UK jobs are reliant on exports to EU member states, the beneficial effect of EU trade on UK households is estimated at between £1,100 and £3,300 per year, UK exports to member states are worth more than £200 billion, and EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) comprises 49% of overall FDI to the UK. Under the present terms of membership the UK plays a strong and active role in influencing and shaping developments within the EU, allowing us to further goals essential to the national interest, such as strengthening and expanding the single market, delivering growth, and promoting a resource efficient, low carbon EU economy. The European economic area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members, in contrast, have to contribute to the EU budget without being able to negotiate the detail and content of EU legislation, and without receiving benefits such as the exemption from customs requirements and costs.
In addition, EU membership gives the UK better leverage and negotiating power on the global stage, allowing us to better achieve our international objectives on issues such as freer international trade, conflict prevention, stabilisation, climate change, human rights and development. There are also wide-ranging benefits for UK individuals, such as the right to study and work within the EU, and to receive free or reduced cost health care on temporary visits within EU member states.


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Onward and upward in 2011

First off, a Happy New Year to all my readers (both of you…)

I was looking back through the blog today looking for a specific post, and it’s obvious that I write much less than I did when I first arrived. Some of that might be personal – less enthusiasm, more of other stuff that gets in the way. But I think to some extent it’s because we’ve developed other digital media channels which do (much better) what this blog was trying to do. The “in the press” section of our Rep website addresses the Euromyths that were a lot of what I did at the beginning. The Facebook page does the more fun stories. The EU and me site has the info about what’s going on, and links to practical sources of information. And I can interact with people via Twitter. So that doesn’t leave me a lot to talk about  here 🙂 I will of course keep writing, and certainly will try to keep up with the Coming Week information about events of specific UK interest. And I will take a particular interest in the European Year of Volunteering and hope to write quite a bit about that.

Have a great 2011!

Update, 17.15 Nice irony that today’s WordPress announcement was about their challenge to blog more often in 2011

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Filed under Coming Week, Digital/social media, EC in UK, European Year of Volunteering

Seeking Rugby-League-loving Eurogeeks

How’s this for a great position for some lucky Eurogeek that likes Rugby League? As a former season ticket holder at Quins RL, I’d jump at it if it were compatible with my current functions.

The Board of the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) is seeking to appoint an Independent Director to assist the Board in the delivery of its Strategic Plan 2011 – 2017.
The RLEF has recently launched its eight-year strategy which is based upon the values of Empowerment, Dynamism and developing a Rugby League Culture. The strategy can be summed up in the phrase “getting more people, playing more Rugby League, more of the time”. Behind that phrase are significant operational plans which are being delivered by a 10-strong team of consultants placed across Europe.
The Board would like to receive applications from candidates with a strong background in any or all of the following disciplines:
• Marketing
• Public Relations
• Commerce
• European Government
• Finance

Successful candidates will be expected to attend Board Meetings, normally three per year, where they will provide help, guidance, advice and support to the Executive team, which is charged with the delivery of the strategy.
It would be an advantage to be able to speak more than one European language.
The position is a voluntary post but reasonable expenses will be met to assist in undertaking the duties. The successful candidate will be appointed initially until August 2012.
Applications should be made in writing, including a letter of application and a current CV, to the RLEF General Manager [if you’re interested, ask me for the contact details].
Closing date for applications is January 10th 2011


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#EUuk event, 10 December 2010

Friday was the culmination of several month’s work with Eurogoblin, Cosmetic Uprise and others, the bloggingportal event on EU and UK political blogging. I was rushing about sorting out the Wifi and making sure people were there, so you should head to Eurogoblin, Walaa Idris or Dick Puddlecote (any I’ve missed?) for a sense of how it went.

Anyway, better than reading what someone else said, you can watch it for yourself – we videoed both panels and are uploading them to the Rep’s YouTube site. They’re huge files and are going up in parts, so please bear with us.

Update 16 December 11am: I’m adding Jon Worth to coverage of the event. Though it’s not a report, it reflects what we conceived the event to be about – how to link the EU and UK political blogospheres, and mentions our event.

Update 10 January 15.45 And here’s the European Citizen’s post on it. He’s Bruno Waterfield’s favourite Euroblogger, dontcha know 🙂

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Leeds – city of volunteering

I was in Leeds yesterday for a conference on the European Year of Volunteering, organised by Leeds City Council. I was invited to give a presentation about the European aspects of the year. But it was just really interesting to be at the event, hearing what Leeds is doing. They had a local year of volunteering in 2010, which is why they are so enthusiastic about the European Year in 2011 and why they did the event. A nice aspect was that they had invited people from the voluntary sector and local administrations of their partner cities, Dortmund, Siegen (both Germany), Lille (France), Brasov (Romania) and Brno (Czech Republic), so it was possible to exchange experiences. One great idea that we heard about in a workshop on corporate volunteering was a website in the Czech republic where companies that would like to donate time can see what NGOs are looking for assistance, say with redecorating their premises. There are some similar services in some areas of the UK, such as Leeds Ahead who were at the conference, but it’s not obvious where to find them. I’d like this office to get into doing something, particularly given the theme of the next European year, but I have no idea how to go about finding an organisation that would like us to help out. If anyone has any pointers for me, that would be great!

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