Tag Archives: Verheugen

It’s the end of the world as we know it

Or is it? Loved Charlie Brooker’s take on it. Like one of the people who commented, my spending all my spare cash on holidays and having a good time is beginning to look like a sensible decision – at least I’ll have some lovely memories to keep me warm. Part of the problem with the whole discussion is that buying a house is treated as a purely financial decision. I mean, of course there is a large financial element, but why should we expect buying a house to be a money-making exercise? I could have bought in Brussels when I arrived 13 years ago, and would probably have made on it, but then I wouldn’t have gone to Fiji, Madagascar, Morocco. I wouldn’t have visited so many places in Europe. I might not even have done my OU course. And all that is worth more to me. Never mind the fact that I didn’t end up staying in Brussels, the main reason I didn’t buy anyway.

I promised you anything written about Verheugen’s interview on Friday, so here it is. It’s always interesting to see the process through from start to finish. If you’re interested, these are the various steps in a case like this:

We find out a Commissioner is coming.

If there is room in the programme for doing media, we find out from the people in Brussels what there is to talk about that would be of interest to journalists (this is the crunch bit and often the most difficult, trying to convince people that some conference isn’t (usually) going to float anyone’s boat)

We identify journalists that might be interested in that issue and pitch the interview to them. If we think we can get a “big fish” along, we can offer them an exclusive interview.

We may be involved in the briefing process, letting the Commissioner know who he or she will be talking to, what they have written about in the past and what sort of issues they have flagged up to us. The Commissioner may want to talk about X, but the journalist will sometimes come along because they want to talk about Y, so we have to make sure that everyone is prepared. That’s a difference we have with government: Commission portfolios are pretty clearly defined so Commissioners will often be reluctant to talk about something that’s not their area. So if we have the Commissioner that deals with widgets here on a particular day and the big EU story is about sprockets, then he may not be prepared to talk about sprockets and so there’s no coverage of that Commissioner.

Finally, one of the team will often sit in the interview, especially if the Brussels-based spokesperson hasn’t come. That way, we have a record of what was said, if there’s any comeback. We get a first-hand idea of what the Commissioner thinks, which always makes it easier to brief the press. And also we are known to the journalist if any follow-up is needed.

Final step in the whole process is to monitor the press for the interview and make sure the Commissioner and his/her team gets the final product. In some European countries, the convention is for someone to get a chance to comment on a draft of their interview before it goes to press. That’s certainly NOT the convention with UK journalists, so we often have to explain that to the people at HQ.

Anyway, just thought it mighjt be interesting to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

 

We’ve been having a lot of stick from the Royal Mail in various ways over recent months, as they (ably supported by UKIP) blame the EU for post office closures in rural areas. (On the contrary, the EU rules say that every household and business should get delivery at least once a day 5 days a week and that deliveries must continue in rural, remote and urban deprived areas. EU rules allow the UK government to support rural post offices financially.) But they’re taking the biscuit today. If you can believe it, they’re trying to blame the fact that there is only one delivery a day on EU rules limiting the speed of lorries! I know we’re a bit of an Aunt Sally, blamed for all sorts of wrongs that we aren’t responsible for, but that’s one of the worst I’ve heard. Maybe the PR guy who came out with that line was working at British Rail when they blamed the “wrong kind of leaves” for train delays?!

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Knitting, talking and dancing

Something strange has happened to me since I arrived in London. I have started talking to people I don’t know. Not in a crazy-lady kind of way, but if there’s something to say. And you know, it’s really working well. Take last night. I was on the tube travelling back from an event in the centre of London (which, as an aside, had Brendan Cole at it, who came over as much less arrogant than he does on the telly, I have to say) and I decided to get the Bakerloo to Elephant and Castle so I’d be on the line down to Balham, rather than changing at Waterloo and then again at Kennington. DOH! Because we waited for aaaages at waterloo and then again at Lambeth North. The woman next to me seemed to be getting quite irate, so I asked her if the Bakerloo was always that slow. We talked about the tube system a bit and then she asked me if I had anything planned for the weekend. I told her that, at the risk of her laughing at me, I was going to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. Turns out, she’s really keen to learn to knit and while she can’t make the Ally Pally think, she might come along to Stitch and Bitch. So you see, get talking: you might find yourself taking up a new hobby!

The event last night was an opportunity to learn a few new dance steps – we did a bit of Lindy and Mambo, and the really great thing was that i found out where all the swing dance classes are. So might try some of those, especially as one is in Balham!

We had Vice-President Verheugen in town today and I was there while he was talking to the Observer. Very interesting to hear his take on the impact of the current stock market turmoil on what everyone seems to be calling the “real economy”. Which must make banking and finance the “fake economy”… Will link to any article that comes out of the interview on Monday. He was supposed to do an interview with a German radio station but infuriatingly the ISDN line seemed not to be working again. We’ll need to get the technicians in, because it’s just embarassing when that happens.

Otherwise not a particularly busy day, just answering calls, providing people with links to information and doing the things you can do in slightly quieter times, like filing and clearing out your e-mail. Glad it’s Friday – I plan a very quiet weekend at home, apart from the above-mentioned trip to Norf London.

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