Behind the Scenes of the European Union

By Gabrielle Bellamy


In my Integrated Global Communication program, we have learned about cross-cultural communication. While in Brussels, I have definitely seen many examples of it. Today, my classmates and I went to the European Union (EU) Consilium. We were given a Prezi presentation on the EU, specifically the Council of Foreign Affairs. Although we previously had the opportunity to learn about the history at the Parlamentarium, today, we had the opportunity to learn more about what the EU does. There are 3 major institutions of the EU: the Commission, the Parliament, and the Council. There are 4 different councils: General Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Economic and Financial Affairs, and Justice and Home Affairs. Ambassadors meet on a weekly basis to discuss various issues. An interesting fact I learned was that the EU not only looks at the entire Union as a whole, but they also look at each of the 27 countries individually. Therefore, everyone is exposed to many different cultures.

The EU is composed of 27 delegates (countries) that speak 23 different languages. On our visit, we were able to actually sit in one of the conference rooms. How many people, especially Americans, can say that they’ve done that? Now, I’m sure you are wondering how they manage to get anything done or how they are able to communicate with each other. In the conference rooms, there are translator booths where the meetings are translated. Each delegate is able to listen, with the use of headphones, to the translations if they need them. Unfortunately, not all of the languages are translated depending on the type of meeting. For example, meetings on politics or agriculture are translated, but regime meetings are not because everyone in attendance is expected to know English and French.

The Foreign Affairs Council, which meets monthly, handles the media, which can sometimes be as many as 1,700 journalists depending on the occasion. This Council manages official press releases for the EU, photo shoots, social media, and an audio visual service that is available for journalists to use. There is also a press center for journalists to use. Another interesting fact about the Foreign Affairs Council is their use of social media. They use it, but not in the same way as government organizations in America. The Council utilizes social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and YouTube. However, they admit that they are behind the curb when it comes to social media because they do not use it as often or are unsure how to use it successfully. I would personally suggest they add someone to their 60-member staff who is proficient in social media and is able to use it with cross-communication.

Au revoir

Below: Me at the EU sitting in the seats of the French delegate and the EU commissioner



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