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A German podcast on the EU Parliament… and the deficiencies of EU websites

The most-of-the-time-great and long-living German podcast (‘Kitchen radio’) has spent its last issue (listen: mp3) on the European Parliament (EP).

Journalist Philip Banse – this time without his other Küchenradio collaborators – spends two hours with Korbinian Frenzel, a former assistant of a member of the European Parliament and now radio journalist, talking about how the daily work in the EP functions.

The podcast touches everything from committees over to rapporteurs to the staff of political groups, from lobbying to media attention of the work of the European Parliament, managing to stay away from overly technical EU language. That’s probably one of the best German audio introductions into EU Parliament processes ( worth next year’s EPPJ…?).

At one point (~1:23:20), in the context of discussing why there is not enough media attention on EU Parliament decision-making, journalist Philip starts a little refreshing rant against the websites of the EU institution (my translation):

“One thing that always annoys me is the web presence of EU institutions. Well, I’m not doing anything regular there, but when I take a look and don’t have a direct link to PDF needed… It’s desperate. It’s really outdated and it’s so repugnant. There are  five websites for each institution, miserable and in 98 languages and I think it’s really inscrutable.

And now, here in the chat [remark: The podcast is recorded live and takes questions from the public.], there is the question where to find central information, what is important, like ‘the Commission decides on draft or directive … it’s now going to Parliament, will be negotiated there’. Where is this draft that was decided upon, that is talked upon now, not the first draft or the intermediate draft or the pre-draft or the post-draft, but this one thing.

Is there something where you can go, like a secret address on the internet?

Former MEP assistant and now (not EU focussed) journalist Korbinian doesn’t have a hint to such a secret address apart from a civil society website he used to use while working at the EP.

Those of you who follow this blog (e.g. ‘Preparing for Council meeting in six steps‘), Michaël’s French blog on EU communication or the blog of the European Parliament web editors (especially the earlier posts) and other euroblogs will know that the online communication and web presence of the EU institutions is a recurring topic in the EU bubble – called “EU bell” in the podcast.

We also don’t know such a secret website, and our only advantage is we have become masters of the EU web-jungle. I couldn’t do a lot of my political science research on EU affairs, whether here in Berlin or when being in Brussels, if I hadn’t learnt over the last years to quickly make my way through the EU web-maze.

Hearing the rants of journalists like Philip shows that this is not just an EU bubble debate. But knowing how the EU website system EUROPA is managed, I’m afraid the EU institutions will be incapable of doing a major reform, even though the top layers of have been revamped last year and even if the EU Council is asking the public to voice its opinion on the reform of the Council website.

I won’t continue with this topic as this could take hours, but won’t close without repeating that the Küchenradio podcast on the EU Parliament is definitely worth listening if you understand German and especially worth a recommendation for anyone  for whom the EP has been a black box so far.

Social media at its best. (And not financed with EU money.)

3 Responses to A German podcast on the EU Parliament… and the deficiencies of EU websites

  1. avatar mathew says:

    I don’t speak German, so thanks for this post – it was interesting to hear the viewpoints of someone with specialised interests, as opposed to the ‘Latvian grandmother’ persona some EU communicators focus on to the exclusion of all else.

    The original idea, many moons ago, was that EUROPA be organised thematically, with themes crossing not just Commission DGs (departments) but also different Institutions. Since then it’s become clear that genuinely useful portals that cross several DGs are not going to happen anytime soon, so I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for cross-Institutional web management… ;-(

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