Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Am A European Blogger

Since US President John F. Kennedy's famous speech in Berlin at the height of the Cold War the proudest boast in Europe has been 'I'm a migrant worker'. Today, in the age of search engines, the proudest boast is 'I am a European blogger'.

At the The Single Market Opportunity event in Brussels, last january, Google's Matt Brittin insisted that 'small and medium enterprises are the unsung heroes of the economy' and that the internet 'can give them a voice'. The emerging European citizen at the heart of a single market that guarantees free movement of goods, capital, services, and migrant workers!

I am convinced in today's world, in the midst of the Euro crisis, bloggers are not just thoughtleaders in business, they are the avant-garde of Europe's single market. These emerging European bloggers are increasingly seen as the ears and eyes of European policymakers as well. Who are these bloggers and what defines the European blogosphere?

The Hungarians made the first attempt to reach out to the European blogosphere during their 2011 EU Presidency. A few weeks ago the Cyprus EU

Presidency followed suit by organizing an even more ambitious rendez-vous with European bloggers in Brussels. I was there. I arrived early and happy to avoid the usual commuter traffic jams. I could even find myself a free parking space five minutes away from the headquarters of the European Council, the Justus Lipsius building. In Leeuwarden, my Dutch hometown, that would have been unthinkable!

At the check-in desk I chose to participate in the panel 'Europe, more relevant to its citizens, with solidarity and social cohesion'. This turned out to be a small but diverse on- and offline group of EU policy makers, (ACTA) activists, journalists and online entrepreneurs. Eric Bonse, who presided over this session, captured the passions, challenges, ideas and mood among the participants on his blog 'lost in europe'. The impact on policy making of sustained online campaigns was recognized as the most important lesson learned during the ACTA battle.

It reminded me of how my blogging adventure started in 2007 with the creation of a local radioprogram for and by migrants in Leeuwarden. Inspired by the role local radio had played in the organization of the million migrant marches in the US in 2006, I had decided to give it a try in my hometown. Radio Mercurius gave me the opportunity to explore the relationship between migration and development in a weekly radioshow. Together with my Congolese cohost I created a local platform for small diaspora NGO's for development, exotic musicians and European students. Radio 1812, a knowledge center for migrant workers in Brussels, discovered my initiative and invited me to share my experience with a crowd of seasoned migrant radio makers from all over Europe.

That's when it suddenly occurred to me that wherever we may live, online we are migrant workers. Since that day I take pride in the words 'I'm a European blogger.'

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