My previous post about Citzalia has been creating waves in the small pond of EU debate throughout the day. The blog entry was first linked from Tim Worstall, then appeared in the Open Europe press review, and has then subsequently been linked by England Expects,, The Endless Track and Bill Cash.

My original blog entry was posted at 0935 this morning, after I was first made aware of the project from this tweet at about 1800 yesterday. It then took until 1539 today until Paolo, one of the project officers at ESN, posted this comment in reply to my piece, setting things straight about the budget.

I absolutely stand by everything written in the original blog entry – I made it clear that I was not certain about the budgets for this, and as a result I have posted comments on all the blogs that have mentioned the story, pointing out the new information supplied by ESN. I’m posting those comments as I’m conscious of my reputation as a blogger – surely ESN ought to be doing this too, and quickly?

Beyond that questions have to be asked about the broader communications here. It’s not as if I’m kind and mild on this blog, and while I want the EU to exist, want the UK to be in the EU, and indeed want a federal Europe, I also – very strongly – want the European Union to be efficient, democratic and avoid waste. Anyone who has ever read a few of my blog entries over the months and years can surely see this – I’m not just ‘pro-European‘.

Surely today’s case shows, once again, that EU bloggers now matter in the Brussels bubble, and they have the power to inflict some damage.


  1. 275 000 € is not enough! Mr Buzek, pls read on and look at the full picture…

    And in fact, it probably _isn’t_ the full ressouces to be spent on this Citzalia project, if one includes EP internal costs (including some translations and reactions? plus management time in long procedures) and future maintenance, as opposed to the initial set-up period (one should always plan ressources for success, not assume stopping, otherwise, why bother?).

    Then add what would be key in my experience, if it is to be more than yet another online gimmick with critical mass at most in English:
    the costs of decentralised animation and of local promotion.

    In July, when the Brussels Blogger study was launched, I attempted some real time and public ‘investigation’ about the EP’s social networking budget:

    Indeed, 25 people plus various external budgets is very substantial, and worth some public scrutiny. It may be a good investment if it works. Will it in this case? a bit early to tell.

    Here is an extract of my recommendation to Mr Buzek: “translating your views in 23 languages is worthwhile (and sometimes necessary); being really close to citizens would be better. So, just keep one social media coordinator and some ‘MEP & assistant trainers’ in Brussels. The others should be at the EP’s national offices (and/or even subcontracted to local bloggers), helping MEPs there and interacting with national online media .”

    The EP is right to keep experimenting (despite cynical comments in some corners! I don’t include most bloggers in this comment).
    As long as it is upfront about the full costs, and does learn lessons from each project…

    Good luck!

    Christophe Leclercq

  2. Henning

    Oh dear! 275k for such a website. On what planet are they living? What’s next? A board game? Shall we design one for them?

  3. Rogier

    @Jon I have to admit I did enjoy that particular blog post! But I’m rather more intrigued about this EP project than I was about those shoddy adverts. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  4. Rogier

    I think you’re right, EU bloggers certainly do have an impact – but as someone who is both experienced in the working of the institutions and political websites, as well as someone who (surely?) is keen to improve education about the EU, and an extremely popular blogger, you seem a fair shot for publicity for this kind of thing. I would not be surprised if a response to that tweet from you was very unexpected.

  5. @Gawain – do blog about whatever conclusion you get

    @Rogier – oh come on! On the front page of my blog you’ll find this and this, both of which are very critical of the way the institutions are behaving. Dig a little deeper and you will find things like this and this, both of which are directly critical of EU comms.

    Don’t get me wrong – if I like something the EU, or a particular institution, is doing, I will say so, and I have been involved in countless projects that have assisted the cause of European integration. But you cannot count on me to be thoughtlessly positive.

  6. Oh and thanks for the heads up on the revised costs.
    Still, putting a letter into Klaus Welle to find out how much the staffing of this thing is going to cost. After all if as they claim the site will be patrolled by EP staff is that included in the budget?

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