Some insights from the International Communication Summit in Brussels

How is it possible to distinguish and understand the values of European citizenship? How should civil society and institutions move in order to define new models for dialogue, values and services? How is it possible to make decisions, when faced with an ever wider and undifferentiated dissemination of content that contrast with the demand for correctness and transparency? These are just some of the topics discussed at the International Communication Summit hosted at the Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels last 26 September.

The event, moderated by Barbara Roffi, Head of sector Content Production and Audio Visual Unit European Parliament, displayed quite an impressive list of speakers. In addition to famous writer Jung Chang, web strategist and CTO for Obama’s campaign Harper Reed and Chief Executive of Nesta Geoff Mulgan there were also contributions from Stephen Clark, Director of Relations with Citizens at the Directorate-General for Communication of the European parliament, Pierre Zémor Honorary President of EuroPCom, Ronny Patz, EU Communications & Policy Officer for Transparency International and Franco Pomilio ICS Chairman since 2010 and President of Pomilio Blumm.


First panellist, Jung Chang explained how her books are full of “truth, of real life, and that’s why they fascinate so many people around the world” because “transparency is at the core of my writing,”

Geoff Mulgan, stressed how one of Europe’s greatest challenges is to grow public understanding of the need to prioritise in future investment– in R&D, innovation – rather than in current consumption.

Pierre Zèmor, talked about the risks of public communication which could sometimes become “useless to face crises, bringing forward a need to find a true public communication, engaging real people, and helping policy-makers”.

In his intervention, Stephen Clark, mentioned that “as an institutional service we will always need to explain the Parliament. It’s a complicated place. However, in the long run, the work of institutions is more and more to put citizens in touch with politicians. ”

Harper Reed, who joined the conference via Skype, began by walking the audience through his very varied career background while confessing that the Obama’s entourage called him because they “wanted something different.”

In his presentation, a clear sentiment could be perceived of how social media and digitalization provide massive opportunities for the empowerment of civic communication. One of the case studies he brought in his presentation such was related to his crowdsourcing experience, defining it as a system that engages ”people in a way they do the micro-targeting, which is really exciting” .

4 thoughts on “Some insights from the International Communication Summit in Brussels

  1. Well, your report is accurate and very interesting. It’s true: social media can provide massive opportunities for the empowerment of civic communication. Who can disagree? But do we know how this is possible? I think that nowadays we have to closely examine these opportunities. We’re late. As Reed says: “There is no time for innovation, only for execution”.
    That’s the reason events of this kind are so important in a moment like this.

    1. Thanks FderVa for your comment and appreciation. I’m not sure what you mean by “we’re late”. Who is we?
      Secondly, there’s plenty of ways to empower civic communication. Off the top of my head I can mention #euchat(s) and live-blogs organized by the European Commission. The European Parliament is very active too on civic engagement via social media. Hence, on the EU institutions side I think quite some efforts have been made. Of course there is always space for improvement but the actions taken so far cannot be denied.

  2. The topic (transparency/engagement/participation) is very interesting. So, we’ll talk about it yet very soon during the next International Communication Summit in Rome on 24th October 2013.

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