Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Commissioner Wallström's Blog

Communications Commissioner Margot Wallström is one of 3 (or is it now 4?) European Commissioners who publish a blog. It's by far the best of these, with the most regular postings and the best opportunity to send in comments. In fact, it gets a lot of comments. Unfortunately, they are dominated by a coterie of less than 10 annoyingly regular posters, who probably put enough other people off with their bickering to make a big difference to the numbers.

The Commissioner publishes some interesting posts on important topics, but the debate on the comments pages seems to be fated to descend into sterile discussions on the legitimacy of the EU and these days, a peculiarly British discussion on the Constitutional/Reform Treaty. I'm all in favour of freedom of speech, but I think some clever moderation could allow commentators to post say, up to once a day, leaving the field free for people who would otherwise not care enough to read through the back-and-forth of the more "enthusiastic" readers.

A big issue with the blog also seems to be the fact that it is published primarily in English. This is a cause for concern from many non-English speakers, including a dedicated band of esperantists who translate all the Commissioner's words into Esperanto and a series of European languages. I have expressed some of my thoughts on language in another post, but there is more to be said here. I think that on balance, the Commissioner could publish a higher proportion of her posts in other EU languages, but the reality is that she is a Swede who is most comfortable with English when not speaking her native tongue. If the next Communications Commissioner is Austrian, I would expect a good number of posts to be in German.

The Commissioner's most recent post attempts to bring up the subject of climate change (before being drowned out in a cacophony of "the EU is inherently evil" - "no it isn't, it's the best thing ever" comments). She tries to make a link between this Summer's extreme weather in Europe and Asia and man-made climate change. Now, between you and me, I think there may well be a link. But I think it is scientifically impossible to ascribe individual events like this to the man-made climate change phenomenon. At any rate, the scientific consensus that the trend exists is the most overwhelming there has been on any environmental issue I have ever heard of.

Which makes climate change, with its cross-border weather angle, the perfect candidate for EU-level action from the Commission's point of view. After all, here's an issue that resonates with the public in all of Europe. Following the embarrassing false start of the Kyoto targets that we aren't going to meet despite self-righteously criticising the Americans for non-participation, there seems to be a genuine desire for fresh and radical ideas in the Berlaymont. The challenge will be for the Commission to push an ambitious environmental, carbon-emission-cutting agenda without badly alienating industry. A particularly interesting challenge, given that this is the most pro-business Commission ever. The current debate on the proposals for very strict car emissions will create a hugely important precedent. Watch this space.
A good blog, Commissioner. With a few tweaks, it could be great.



I guess I'd have to say that "Democracy isn't always very pretty." I think Commissioner Wallstrom's blog is a worthwhile effort. True, the comments are often disappointing.

The endless hectoring by British critics of the European Union is tiresome. In the most recent Wallstrom Blog - the one in which you posted your suggestions - I had difficulty restraining myself from responding to British cretins.

I was sorely tempted to ask when the UK held its referendum on the UK constitution. The answer is that there has never been a referendum on the UK constitution. Admittedly, the UK has an "unwritten constitution" (whatever that means). So, uh, figuring out how to hold a referendum upon it would be, shall we say, interesting.

I try to visit the Wallstrom Blog now and then and be of service as a peacemaker of sorts.

I find YOUR contribution to be quite thoughtful and constructive.

Let's see if we can help out Commissioner Wallstrom on the Blog now and then.

London, UK & Brittany, France

Ossi said...

It is interesting how most of the most vocal bloggers and commenters seem to be very much anti-EU. Commissioner Wallström has had to experience that the hard way I guess.

Good job with your blog. I discovered it today and already subscribed to the feed. Very interesting.

I have an EU blog as well at The purpose of the blog is slightly different though: I try to write and comment on EU related news and mix that up with a bit of political commentary every now and then. The blog is still in its birth stage, so expect changes in focus.

Anonymous said...

there is no man made climate change, there is only a NATURAL PHENOMENON

but left wing extremist zealots, their hangers-on are hoping to use climate change as a wedge issue to introduce massive new taxes and regulations. You see? Green is just the color that the reds morphed into post 1991 (Soviet collapse). This be no coincidence. All green parties are dominated by former communists who now try to achieve what they failed to achieve last century, by scaremongering people into submission with ever increasing scenarios of doom.

And the naive do-gooder crowd all go along with it, ignorant of the real agenda (ie world communism and tyranny).

Go on, deny it. Deny it, say the following words: climate change is not a natural phenomenon.


martinned said...


Yes, I guess some of the vehement discussion recently has been my fault. I'm not sure if it is a bad thing, though. Personally, I rather like a bit of discussion, and the fact that these discussions often tend to veer well of course, compared to the original post, is not very important. I guess such blogs serve a similar function to usenet, which I've used in the past as well. I don't see how the type of moderation you propose helps anything. (Given that I was "duelling" with several people at the same time, a restriction on the number of comments per day would make it more difficult for me to get my point accross.)

Insideur said...

Anonymous I am not a scientist but my opinion, based on what I have seen in the media and heard from friends and colleagues more knowledgeable than myself, is that climate change per se is a natural phenomenon. However, the climate changes we are seeing today are highly unlikely to be unrelated to human activity. My understanding is that the scientific consensus is of a degree very rarely reached on any topic of global scientific debate.

Insideur said...

Ossi thanks for your response. I took a look at your blog and it also seems very interesting. I'll add it to my list and do a review at some point... By the way, does Ossi indicate an East German background?

Insideur said...

Martinedd, I understand your point about restricting comments to one per day. Actually, I don't think that would necessarily prevent you from getting your point across. It would just slow the process down and leave more breathing room for other readers to post, who would otherwise be put off. All readers would have to be a lot more thorough and thoughtful about their posts, which might not be a bad thing.

Bertram said...

"The Commissioner publishes some interesting posts on important topics, but the debate on the comments pages seems to be fated to descend into sterile discussions on the legitimacy of the EU and these days, a peculiarly British discussion on the Constitutional/Reform Treaty."

Surprise! Margot is not paid by us for talking about the wheather. Her blogreaders are more interested in her job issues than her off-topic greenwash opinions.