Our leaders often get lost in generalities with regard to the Europe 2020 growth strategy, single market reform (SMA) and other EU issues. While we are waiting for national governments in the EU member states and the EU institutions to start discussing more openly and in more detail, we can discuss the role of the official players and look for better alternatives.

EU institutions

In my view, the negotiations between the EU member states in the Council remain opaque, despite so called public deliberations and debates, published official proposals and decisions, improved presentation by the Council press service etc.

Most lobbying efforts also take place outside the limelight.

The European Parliament is sometimes unjustly derided. Given the poor standards of public debate on individual policy and legislative proposals, the rapporteurs and committees often shed additional light on matters. This includes many own-initiative reports, which some writers seem to despise, but which are necessary because of the limited scope of the powers of the EP and an improvement on what the Council and the member states offer.

However, in many cases the Council and the European Parliament aim for first reading deals, which take the real discussions outside the public arena.

Media and civil society

Europeans deserve something better than the code of relative silence.

What could (mainstream) media do better than now?

There are other political entities and actors, as well as officials at all levels, who could be more active (national, regional, local).

There are also businesses, organisations, consumers, citizens, bloggers and journalists, students and teachers, researchers, think-tanks and policy specialists, who could offer critical views and alternatives for improved public deliberation.

Inside and outside ”organised” civil society, there is a need to break the omertà long before the political and policy issues become part of the national debate. Decisions at EU level have huge impact, but what does it take to rupture the atmosphere of institutional and public indifference?

The online world offers the raw materials, such as public documents, and the means of cross-border communication in almost real time, but it still takes individual choices to discuss the issues in order to break the code of (relative) silence.

What is to be done?

Ralf Grahn
EU affairs expert, speaker and lecturer

P.S. The multilingual Bloggingportal.eu already aggregates the posts from 952 Euroblogs. They represent an integral part of the emerging European online public sphere: discussion across national and linguistic borders. Most weeks you can read a light-hearted roundup of promoted posts in the Week in Bloggingportal, such as the latest one: Take us to your Commission President.

Europe is more than the old member states of the EU. The WSJ Emerging Europe blog follows economic and political developments in the new member states and beyond.

Among the Euroblogs on Bloggingportal.eu you find my blog archive of more than 2,700 articles in all, plus fresh news feeds: Grahnlaw (ranked fourth among political blogs in Finland), the Nordic Grahnblawg (written in Swedish) and Eurooppaoikeus (meaning European Law, in Finnish).

I write and speak about democracy and openness in the European Union, but increasingly about prosperity in the global era: the growth strategy EU2020 and the (digital) single market in the making.

The other social media where I am active: Twitter, Facebook and Google+