The language barrier was the dominant issue, with several ideas being floated. While English is perhaps the most commonly spoken second language, restricting any translation effort into just English would be quite limiting on the Euroblogosphere, and would exclude many Europeans from the chance of getting involved. However, it's clear that any translation effort - even if focused on only a few interesting or influential articles - would be time-consuming, and labour intensive. The Euroblogosphere has proven very capable of making voluntary efforts - such as Bloggingportal.eu and the Gender Balanced Commission campaign - it's hard to see how a major translation effort could be sustained. Having a funded and specially designed blogging platform to bridge the language gap would seem to be a better option, but it too raises many technical, funding and presentational issues. A voluntary newsletter or summarising effort based around Bloggingportal.eu struck me as the best option.
Engagement was the most interesting issue for me. Nosemonkey made some good arguments about the exclusivity of the Euroblogosphere:
"What the Euroblogosphere needs is simple - a) more of us, and b) more passion. The EU is incredibly dull. The reason we've all got such little traffic is mostly because of this - but also because we're failing to make it sound interesting. The anti-EU blogs, meanwhile, are much more fun to read - because they've got real passion behind them (even if they're mostly based on lies and bullshit) [...] Anything that makes it sound interesting and relevant. The biggest problem with the Euroblogosphere is that it's a) very small, a, and b) most Eurobloggers haven't been doing it very long - which means that most of the coverage is very, very general. Loads of posts about what it means to be European, ideal reforms of the EU. It's all too theoretical. Political theory only engages geeks - for it to grow we need to engage the man/woman on the street. This is something the anti-EU blogs do very well - albeit through lies and bullshit."
As a Euroblogger, I'm definitely on the theoretical/institutional side of things, but I recognise the value in opening up to different aspects of EU politics. If we want to encourage growth and development in the Eurobloggersphere (more readership, more bloggers, and more engagement), then as a political blogosphere, we will probably have to move towards a more normal style of political blogging. This means blogging more on the left-right, government-opposition divide in the EU, because this is both the politics that matter more in day-to-day life, and the type of politics people can identify with more, and find easier to debate. "How far should the banks be regulated and how - and how is it playing out in Brussels and in the national capitals?" is a much more politically relevant question to people than the institutional development of Qualified Majority Voting. This brings up a few interesting points, though:
1. It's easier to write about institutional politics than just politics. Yes, I wrote that right - it really is easier. It's much easier to have an opinion on the high politics of institutional reform and Commission appointments than it is to follow policy debates. Policy debates and legislation take a lot of time and effort (and the patience of a recently canonised stone) to follow. The passage of legislation is slow; it pings back and forth from the Council to the Parliament, and is hard to track on the EU websites. Following months of negotiation on aspects of the single market may not be an appealing idea to prospective (and existing) Eurobloggers. And would people read it?
2. Lack of official engagement on the web. Or indeed in the media at large. Though there's plenty of officialese statements flowing from each of the institutions, there's very little in the way of media-friendly policy statements or active MEPs on the internet. While some dedicated Eurobloggers may track down and explain some policy areas, the high level of effort involved will mean that it would remain a minority of the Euroblogosphere. But perhaps the effort of trying to open up EU politics like this would encourage more MEP engagement and the media-isation of Brussels' political language?
3. Speed. Legislation is slow, and it's hard to maintain interest over the period to report on an issue in the same way a national blogger may do in a shorter time span.
4. Bloggers. You can't get bloggers to do anything, not even if you ask politely. So how can you encourage a move towards reporting on the party-political aspect of the EU (note that this shouldn't require becoming party-political for the bloggers themselves). Perhaps some sort of common call to look at this aspect of EU politics more? It should be an area that is interesting in and of itself for Eurobloggers. We can't ask or expect other bloggers to write about it, but hopefully some will pick it up, at least partially, and add their two eurocents. So how about it? Do you think it would be a good area to write about, even occasionally?
Despite the obstacles, I think it's at least worth a try. I won't be able to properly try until after Christmas, and the idea of Europe and how its institutions work will still be very interesting to me, but I'll try to write a bit more on the daily politics of the EU. It'll take some adjustment, so bear with me on this.
Also, interaction with national blogospheres will be important too. I'm not sure how much I can bring EU politics closer to Northern Ireland's regional politics, but I should (and will) try to interact more with national blogospheres. Again, it'll take a while to get going, since my time's a bit limited at the moment.
So, do you think it could work?
* I'm hoping to get "outrage" accepted as the collective noun for bloggers, since it's the most common natural state of blogging.
There's now a Chasing Brussels episode on the topic, with many Eurobloggers debating these issues.