Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Hungarian Presidency's legacy: Bloggers allowed in the Council

Today is the final day of the Hungarian EU Presidency. From tomorrow, Poland will set the agenda and organize Council meetings for the remainder of 2011.

It is not my place to judge the overall performance of the Hungarian Presidency, but in one aspect it deserves a lot of praise. It was the first Presidency to allow bloggers into the Council meetings. Several times, bloggers Ronny Patz, Europasionaria and Litterbasket (Joe Litobarski) have reported directly from the Council, and in a handful of meetings with Brussels-based bloggers, the Presidency has made the inner workings of the Council more transparent (see a comprehensive blogtour by Mathew Lowry here).

Although it would seem a basic principle of democracy to let citizens attend a Council and ask questions to their politicians, earlier attempts at transparency achieved one thing most of all: it allowed lobbyists to monopolize the floor. With social media taking a more important place in the European policy debate, the Council is trying to give a greater space to European bloggers. In future, the Council's deliberations go, citizen bloggers should be allowed to request access to Council meetings, but it has to be safeguarded that they don't wear a lobbyist's hat. Much is still under negotiation, but after the Hungarian Presidency paved the way, hopes are high that bloggers could more regularly report from the Council.

We hope the Polish Presidency will be prepared to continue the work started by its predecessor. And we are highly thankful for the efforts of Gergely Polner and Hajdú Márton who devoted time and energy to European social media during the HU Presidency.

Update (19/07/2011): See coloredopinions for an interesting discussion on Blogging as a Wheat and Chessboard Problem

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