Two weeks ago, I wrote “Hugh’s Fish Fight or: The blind spot of the EU social media gurus“. As you may know, I am doing my academic research on information flows in EU policy-making and so I was interested whether a campaign like Hugh’s Fish Fight would also have any effect on the attention to policy debates in EU institutions.
So I asked the Council press service (via Twitter) for the visitors statistics for the particular Council meeting that Hugh’s Fish Fight campaign was interested in. Below you can find the unique visitors statistics of the live streams of the EU Council meeting on Fisheries and Agriculture on 19 and 20 March 2012 (archived recordings can be found here) as the press service has received them from the streaming provider:
It is difficult to judge these figures in absolute terms because I do not have any comparative data for other Council meetings or for the streaming statistics of EU Parliament or national institutions (does anybody have any such statistics?).
However, the difference between the number of visitors for the morning session on fisheries the first day where the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform, including the issue of discards that is at the heart of Hugh’s campaign, was discussed and the number of visitors for the morning session on agriculture where the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was discussed is considerable (the figure for the first is ~2.5 time higher).
This is particularly remarkable as both were orientation debates in the midst of major reforms as both the CFP and the CAP are currently about to be overhauled. And among the two, agriculture is by far the most important policy of the European Union, not least when it comes to the amount of money spent.
So the difference in unique visitors can be with very high likelihood traced back to a current politicisation of the matter of discards through a private media campaign supported and financed by a number or organisations. Which for me proves that politicisation of issues at EU level, including through (social) media campaigns NOT financed by EU institutions, can help to promote legislative transparency – and fear-mongering by some, for example at the highest level in the Commission, is absolutely inappropriate.