Monday 19 April 2010

The tweets of the Swedes (unfinished)

I have started drafting this article in December 2009 but it never got finished. I found it yesterday and thought to erase it, but it is still worth publishing seeing the bad work the Spanish Council Presidency is doing in its online communication (does anybody notice them?), especially compared to the Swedish Presidency.

The Swedish EU Council Presidency has given us an incredible insight into their diplomatic work by allowing a number of its diplomats to use Twitter and to tweet from their work during the presidency semester.

Mårten Wierup (@M_Wierup), Deputy Antici at the permanent representation of Sweden to the EU, was one of these people to whom we, the interested public owe a great thank for their work in the name of openness and transparency.

I have chosen some interesting tweets of the almost 400 Mårten has published since May to exemplify what the public could learn (or could have learnt) by following him all this time.

I will quote a tweet and then comment on what this tells me:
May 9: Mårten Wierup "is at a human rights seminar with former czech communist dissidents at the czech foreign ministry, very very interesting"
Me: Being at the Czech foreign ministry, the participation at such a seminar is inter alia a) a possibility to see the work of the previous presidency and b) an opportunity to hold preparatory meetings for one's own presidency.
May 12: Mårten Wierup "is happy that most of the date negotiations for the third country meetings during our presidency has started Finally..."
Me: The "finally" shows that there has either been a delay or at least that the scheduling presure was becoming quite high 1 1/2 months before the start of the presidency.
May 15: Mårten Wierup "just came from a meeting about boking of rooms and interpretors and other practical and highly important issues for the presidency"
Me: A presidency is not just about content and representation, it is a lot about logistics. I remember having had the same kind of meetings before the German EU Council presidency, trying to get to know all the technical details you'd have no time to find out when under stress during the presidency.
May 19: Mårten Wierup "just came back from the Antici meeting which indicated that tomorrows Coreper might be fairly simple"
Me: This kind of short remarks on the "mood" of a meeting is probably the most valuable kind of background information you can get through tweets from people directly involved in EU politics, diplomacy, and administration. One might find an agenda of a meeting, but one will never be able to judge on how it went, although this can be absolutely important for the law- and decision-making of EU institutions. Transparency in this regard allows us to judge when and how certain issues were delayed, voted down, or where there have been problems that needed to be solved by one of the famous compromises.
May 22: Mårten Wierup "is once again on the council agendas for the coming 6 months"
Me: There is almost no surprise in most EU politics, so knowing when certain things like agendas are fixed can be very helpful to be prepared very early...
May 27: Mårten Wierup "is back in the coreper room again. Soon a discussion on actions to tackle illegal migration in the Mediterranean"
Me: Some hints on what is actually discussed in the Council, even when you didn't read the COREPER agenda ahead of the meeting.
June 4: Mårten Wierup "is on a meeting about crisis management during the presidency, very hard to imagine all the things that might occur"
Me: I would love to know the content of such kind of meetings. A tweet like this is a good reason to ask for more details.
June 19: Mårten Wierup "is on my way to a pre meeting with the last draft of Council conclusions which came during the night, looks quite good from our horizon"
Me: How often did you get this kind of indication on draft Council conclusions ahead of a meeting?
June 22: Mårten Wierup "On a pre meeting for Coreper - our ambassador is actually responsible for as many agenda points as the Czech ambassador"
Me: Here you realise that the next presidency actually takes over responsibilities ahead of the formal "change of guards".
June 25: Mårten Wierup "is starting preparatory work for next weeks Coreper and writing back ground notes for our ambassador"
Me: This is one of the tweets where one is reminded that diplomats or officials using Twitter actually show us how their work influences the work of those on the higher and highest levels - in this case that speaking points for the ambassadors are coming from Mårten (and others).
June 30: Mårten Wierup "Alright, 5 h to go. I suppose there isn't really that much to do about the things that aren't prepared now"
Me: It's just natural and human that people are nervous before a presidency, but it is still nice to see this underlined by such kind of tweets.
July 01: Mårten Wierup "the first Antici meeting went well although I think I was the one who enjoyed the cinamon rolls the most"
Me: There it goes, the presidency has started.

Here the draft ends, right before the actual start of the Presidency. It is worth reading back through Mårten Wierup's timeline to see how much insights he gave into the work of the Swedish Presidency - nothing of that could be seen with the Spanish. Will the Belgians be better?

Picture: © anaulin / CC BY-SA 2.0


Ralf Grahn said...


The Swedish government has published a report on its presidency of the Council of the European Union, as noted on my blog:

Julien Frisch said...


Yeah, I've seen it on your blog and sent the document (the parts on communication) through Google Translate. Interestingly, there is no mentioning of Twitter.

Ralf Grahn said...


Public administrations are often wary of mentioning / promoting specific corporations, so I suppose that this is the reason behind dealing with social media, bloggers etc. in a generic manner.