By Augustine Holguine
Cross cultural communication in the EU.
Gutenberg morgen, Bonjour, and Kalimera are only three of the languages spoken by several of the countries in the European Union. Today we visited the European Council of Ministers. During our visit we were introduced to Dominique, an assistant in the press department, and Nicolas head of the press department for the Council of Ministers. Prior to meeting Nicolas, Dominique gave us a summary on the structure and role of the European Union. During each session the large atrium is converted into a press center with more than 1,600 international journalists.
The European Council currently has 27 members representing each member country in the European Union. Every six months, there is a new president. Currently, the head of Ireland is the president, and within the atrium the Ireland flag along with interesting facts about the nation is strategically placed. Despite the 27 languages and cultures, the council members are able to effectively communicate with each other. Often times translators are often used to assist the council members. Translators are not provided to the diplomats during their sessions. English is used an estimated 80 percent of the time during the diplomatic meetings, and French is often used during the meetings. In our Communication for Multinational Corporations class we learned that English is the lingua franca in the business field and various fields are using English as their common language. All diplomats are expected to have knowledge and a general understanding of the English and French language. Furthermore, during the council’s meetings an attorney and legal service employees are present in each meeting. When proposals are made about agriculture, foreign affairs, and various topics the legal service department is responsible for researching the current laws about each country’s regarding the topic.
I can honestly say that I did not understand the structure of the European Union. Nicolas explained that there are 3 major parts of the EU.
* The commission branch is similar to the legislative branch in the United States.
* The Parliament members are elected by voters, which occurs every 5 years.
* The council are the heads of state. As Dominique stated, ” It’s like having 27 President Obamas meeting several times each year meeting about important topics”.
Currently, the economy of several European countries has been the main topic during the council’s meetings. The proposal of the EU-US free trade has also been discussed during the council’s recent meetings. Similar to the US, the public can view these meetings online.
The European council have several social media accounts. Facebook, YouTube, and Foursquare are used to communicate with the public and the press. Nicolas did note that he does not really understand social media. A social media expert was hired to work in the press department. This employee is responsible for providing training on social media ethics and responding to questions on the council’sTwitter account. Although the public can view the sessions online, official announcements are the council members’ effective method for communicating their decisions to the public. During the first semester of the MAIGC program, the professors gave several lectures on the importance of effective communication despite language barriers and different cultures. The European Union’s council of ministers is the perfect example of multiple cultures working through challenges to effectively communicate with each other and their audience.
Unlike the United States, the EU members have to be considerate of other the EU languages and cultures. Our visit today, shows that culture and especially languages can cause issues that affect a diverse group of people. Eventually, the council members will be able to communicate more with their audience.