A chat over Expo Milan with #‎EUinAusInterview‬

The European Union Delegation to Australia has a new amazing Web Editor, Media and Social Media Editor, Alia Papageorgiou.

She interviewed me for their newsletter about my work and the activities run by the European Union pavilion at Expo Milano. Check out our chat and don’t forget to follow her!

Here is their piece. I’d love to read your comments!

Are you visiting Italy this European summer? Then why not stop by ‪#‎Milan‬ and the EU Expo 2015 pavilion. We didn’t want to tell you why, so we asked our man on the ground, Marco Ricorda (pictured with former Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik) the Community Manager for the EU Pavilion to tell you why you should visit. ‪#‎EUinAusInterview‬

Q. Who are you?
A. I’m Marco Ricorda, the Community Manager for the European Union Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 the biggest event of 2015 and the largest ever event on food and nutrition.

Q. What do you do?
A. I manage the digital and social media presence of this project. Not only do I perform the editorial part of the digital output of our pavilion but I invest a lot of time and energy in networking with the other participants at Expo, community managers and communication professionals. A lot of digital work but also lots of walking.

Q. What’s happening in Milano this year?
A. Expo Milano 2015 is the Universal Exhibition that Milan has been hosting from May 1 to October 31. Over this six-month period, Milan becomes a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries will show the best of their technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium. In addition to the exhibitor nations, the Expo also involves international organizations, and expects to welcome over 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area.

A platform for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions on the theme of food, stimulating each country’s creativity and promoting innovation for a sustainable future, Expo 2015 will give everyone the opportunity to find out about, and taste, the world’s best dishes, while discovering the best of the agri-food and gastronomic traditions of each of the exhibitor countries.

Q. Best coffee at the EXPO?
A. The Coffee Cluster is a real paradise for coffee lovers and people enthusiastic about how different cultures work, perceive and appreciate coffee. However, as a fellow Italian, I have to say that nothing is better than an Illy espresso, once, twice, maybe three times during the day and honestly, considering our intense working hours, it’s both a pleasure and a need.

Q. Best food?
A. This is a hard one, because the food at Expo is pretty amazing and competition is fierce in the kitchen. If I was forced to choose three menus, I would recommend Angola, Korea and Uruguay

Q. Best gelato?
A. I was impressed with the gelato at the Israel pavilion. It is just sublime. I totally recommend the rose-scented fiordilatte with pistachios. Ideal for the hot Italian summer

Q. Is it near that fantastic statue giving the stock exchange the middle finger?
A. Mmm… not really

Q. What do you think of the stands/booths/expo participations?
A. It’s an amazing display of architecture, technology, entertainment and education all at once. Some pavilions like Brasil, Germany, Qatar have really created and amazing architectural feat while others have invested more work and energy in their visitor’s experience like Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Japan or the Emirates pavilion. The European Union pavilion has a pretty amazing visitor’s experience where we screen “The Golden Ear” the story of Alex and Sylvia. A tale of how tradition and innovation need to cooperate to sustainably face the challenges for the future of the planet.

Q. Which one seems to be the most unique/different?
A. I was totally impressed by Kazakhstan. They managed to create a unique exhibition combining great architecture, innovation, technology and an incredible visitor’s experience with a 3D cinema.

Q. Does there seem to be specific EXPO Tourism?
A. Totally. Expo is bringing a lot of people to Milan. Apart from Expo itself, due to this world exhibition Milan has grown enormously in terms of offering cultural events, new gastronomical options and simply being awesome

Q. Dates of the EXPO please
A. From 1 May till 31 October

Q. What’s the best way to promote awareness of EU policy? How does that happen every day at the expo?
A. We have organised over 200 conferences and events on food policy, food science and sustainability. All issues related to the theme of Expo Milano which is “feeding the planet, energy for life.” On top of that, after the screening of “The Golden Ear”, the story of Alex and Sylvia, visitors arrive to our digital content centre where, via interactive touch screens, they can get more information about what the EU does to promote a more sustainable planet.

Q. How’s the weather?
A. Amazing, sunny and pleasant

Q. Most high profile guest so far?
A. Michelle Obama, David Cameron , Angela Merkel

Q. How’s Milan handling the extra traffic?
A. Very well, simply by encouraging the use of public transport and implementing solid sharing-mobility initiatives. Not only bikes and cars are now regularly shared by the Milanese, but now even scooters.

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An amazing Social Media Happy Hour!!!

Take a few minutes to think about the daily routine of a Community Manager at Expo Milano: running up and down the Decumano, answering hundreds of mails in a record time, posting on Facebook also during lunch break, collecting every kind of business card…This is why sometimes we need a moment to relax, to do some networking and to have fun or, as I like to phrase it, to bridge to online with the offline

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It was an honour and an awesome experience to the Expo 2015 Milano Social Media Happy Hour with all the Community Managers of the first real Social Media World Expo! It was a great and interactive event meant to bridge digital with traditional networking in the biggest event of the year.

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During the event we ran two competitions awarding Austria at Expo Milano 2015 as the favourite pavilion by all community managers and the Dominican Republic Pavilion as winners of our Instagram photo competition. Congratulations to both and to all the participants! View the full Storify of the event

The occasion was also picked up by Italian national press:
ANSA.it http://bit.ly/1HPMLol
Il Tempo Quotidiano bit.ly/1HPMLol

Photo credits Valentina Macciotta

Getting the Expo Milan 2015 Community Managers together

Last 20 May was a great day for me and for all the Community Managers working at Expo Milano 2015. I was invited to share my experience in live-covering Europe Day at a social media workshop in Expo.

Europe Day at Expo Milan was a true success and as Head of Social Media Stefano Mirti said “the great thing about the European Union pavilion is that they were really ‘social.’ They managed to perform activities and engage with people in ways that only social media allows.”

It was for an honour to hear Stefano’s words and I take my hat off in front of the guys of the Social Media Team at Expo. They are doing a terrific job not only in informing and engaging visitors at the biggest event of the year but they are creating a proper solid network of digital communication professionals. Bridging the gap between human and digital relations among people is the main purpose of social media.

What I wanted to stress in my presentation was that, no matter how well you can get prepared for live-covering big events, you need to be able to change strategy promptly. Social media nowadays requires flexibility and a reactive mind. All that matters at the end of your event is the overall success and the bonding you create with your team mates. Yes, I say “team mates” because the work we do as community managers is very similar to what sports teams do when they prepare for a big game. All that matters at the end, after the game is over, is represented by the picture below.

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The more people digitalize their relations, the more people are surprised to physically get together or even receive a phone call. These regular gatherings, that the Expo team has been organizing, is a great example of what more and more networks of professionals should be doing both in the public and the private sector.

Special thanks go to Mariella Merlino and Manuela Bonfiglio for making this network happen and to Giacomo Biraghi for his continuous effort in making people aware of the great opportunity that Expo Milano represents for Italy, Europe and the world.

Expo Milano 2015: an outstanding opening of the European Union pavilion!

Last 9 May I had one of the most amazing days of my professional life. We inaugurated the European Union pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. All the work we have done for months has paid off amazingly with an incredible turnout and very inspiring words from both President Martin Schulz and High Representative Federica Mogherini.

“Europe is changing, flexibility is no longer a taboo and austerity is no longer a mantra” stated Mogherini. The High Representative also took the opportunity to thank all those who contributed to a big event like Expo Milano 2015, first and foremost the volunteers.

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz expressed his pride in being part of a “unique and exceptional community of 28 democratic countries cooperating for peace, welfare and the future of the new generations.”

The promotion of the day started cross-platforms a few days in advance in order to create some pre-event buzz with stakeholders in the field of EU affairs and Expo Milan

After the ceremonial welcoming speech, Europe Day at Expo went on with the “Citizens’ Dialogue”, a debate between institutions and citizens that took place at the Expo Auditorium and welcomed thousands of citizens and high school students from across Europe.

The lively debate moderated by RaiNews24 Director Monica Maggioni tackled some crucial topics for Europe such as nutrition and environmental sustainability. The discussion also grew online through social media, with the official hashtag #EUdialogues (mentioned over 2000 times in the day).

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On social media this turned out to be one of the most successful Citizen’s Dialogue ever, especially thanks to the great inter-institutional cooperation between the many EU-actors involved

At the end of the Dialogue I had the honour of jumping on stage and getting a quick post-event statement by both Mogherini and Shulz on the the interaction and communication opportunities offered by this type of event. I must say I was thrilled at the very least.

Before the Citizen’s Dialogue started I asked a few students participating what they would have liked to ask to the President and the High Representative

Continue reading “Expo Milano 2015: an outstanding opening of the European Union pavilion!”

Shaping the Future of World Expos

It was a pleasure to be at the WECC World Expo Commissioners Club last 30 March in Milan, in an event linked to the theme of Future Expos, i.e. the forthcoming events related to Expos, after the one in Milan this year.

A unique event of its kind, talking about future Expos gave us the opportunity to discuss and discover how many synergies can be immediately created” confirmed Nausika Spahia, Executive Vice President WECC.

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Fabrizio Sala, Expo 2015 Undersecretary and Regional Councillor, spoke about Expo Milano: “There are three themes that unite the forthcoming Expos with Expo 2015: nature, technology and energy. The Expos in Milan, Antalya, Astana and Dubai open up a vision of the world in which technological progress is combined with sustainability. This is the only possible foundation for a future of peace and cooperation among peoples. The Lombardy Region, with the E015 Digital Ecosystem has the ambition to be a best practice in this direction, creating smart cities with interconnected services and facilitating the use of alternative mobility“.

WECC

Massimo Andreoli, presented “The Silk Road and Spices Route” project and talked about the Aquae Venice 2015/Expo Venice pavilion.

Necil Nedimoglu, Head Consultant and Turkish BIE Representative, spoke about Expo Antalya 2016, presenting an introductory video of the city and the opportunities that Expo Antalya offers: “the goal of Antalya is to create an Expo that will last beyond the six months, thanks to the creation of permanent gardens.

Giancarlo Caratti, Deputy EU Commissioner, spoke about the business opportunities (B2B and B2C) deriving from Expo.

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More info http://bit.ly/1CjScd8

Photo credits WECC

An awesome day the Social Media Trends Summit

It was a fantastic day at the EUROVISION Social Media Trends Summit in London. I really had great fun but, most importantly, I had the chance to meet some incredible communication professionals and at the same time promote what the European Union will do at Expo Milan 2015. I’ll write about my presentation in a separate post. Not because people are just waiting impatiently to read it (I’m not that disillusioned) but because the topic I discussed deserves a separate chapter. Besides, just the selfie you see below deserves another dedicated post 🙂

The summit had the target of exploring strategies and exchange knowledge and best practice in the field of social media for public service media with the wider European Broadcasting Union network. It was an aspect of social media I hadn’t been involved in before. Hence, listening from the experience of TV and radio producers was really interesting and I hope I’ll get a chance sometimes to work in the same realm.

Social media is now an integral part of public service broadcasting. Maximizing the use of social platforms has become key to making the case for public service media as it allows us to understand our audiences better and to be more relevant to them; to increase engagement and interactivity; to empower, curate and share stories and messages; and to become the most relevant source of information for our audiences.

Bringing reporters, producers and presenters together was the ideal set to understand how radio, TV and paper need to reshape their content and their way of working by integrating social media in their overall communication plans. In particular, in the past few years, I have been witnessing the tendency, from social media professionals, to over-discern themselves, from communication managers.

Social_Media_Trends_Summit As I said in my presentation:

Conversations about social media are diverging from conversations about general communication. It’s now time to make these two converge not diverge. You notice this in the way some businesses and organizations are set out. You find the community manager in an office separated from the PR team, who hardly speak to the press officer, who doesn’t have a clue about what the webmaster is doing. Community managers in 2015 need to be at the centre of communication, not at the corner

A significant part of the conference discussed how social media is reshaping journalism. A topic that Alex Volonté took a closer look at in his blog.

The conference saw the participation of many speakers, mainly from the Scandi-Anglo-Saxon world. It seems to me that Scandinavia is a great and comfortable place to promote innovation in communication and public engagement. There’s no corruption, everybody is young, everybody loves technology and people are not afraid to speak up. It’s a pretty different working environment from their south-European counterparts where political communication hides numerous hurdles towards transparency and accessibility. Apart from reminiscing the ideal world that Scandinavia creates in my mind, I particularly enjoyed four presentations:

Cilla Benkö, Director-General, Swedish Radio, was one of the most appreciated speakers at the event, as you can see from the tweets about her. A strong, decisive and pragmatic woman that seems not to compromise to mediocrity. To cut a long story short:

Social media is not only for the young generation. We must adapt to it and use it our best

When you can tell people that you work for the X Factor and MTV, you already start with a step ahead in terms of coolness. That’s what Laura-May Coope can say. Pragmatically, Laura explained how social media isn’t just marketing, posting, replying, favouriting etc… It’s a bilateral process where you both speak and listen. Otherwise, we would just call it broadcasting. It’s two-way communication. When she’s asked how she gets her stories, she basically says that she’s “always listening to social media.” Is there any other better and richer source for content? I don’t think so

The best story of the day was not about engagement or live-tweeting strategies. It was about how the digital presence of the Eurovision Song Contest came about. Believe it or not, it was (obviously) all because of a girl. Sietse Bakker, Eurovision Song Contest Event Supervisor, a loooooooooong time ago, wanted to impress this girl he liked. How, you ask? By making a website about the Eurovision. Long story short, he gets a job offer for that. Sure, there is more to that but this happened.

This is an awesome success story and it really embraces a set of recommendations I always give to neo-graduates: “Jobs ain’t waiting for you. In this market you have to stand out of the crowd and go get those jobs by the horns.” Sietse (kind of) did that. If you have an awesome idea, smart businesses will see it. Sietse is a terrific guy (see the tweets below as a proof) and the people at EVN Social loved his approach. Plus, he manages probably the coolest cross-country TV event in Europe. I mean, how can you not like the chap?

The reason why I need to talk about Alex Trickett, Head of sports at Twitter, is because Twitter Sports created some of the coolest social media analitycs-based charts I have seen during the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil.

Getting to the point of their strategy during big sports events, Alex share his five commandments

More videos from the event will come soon. I’ll keep you posted for any update.

Peace out.

7 reasons to follow the EU at Expo

Expo Milan 2015 will be the first real “social media World Expo.” Even though Shanghai 2010 did display a touch of social networks within their outreach efforts, Expo Milan invests and relies massively on social media. The goal of this intense use of social networks and digital connections is manyfold. Not only is this strategy intended to reach the expected 20 million visitors, but also to concentrate on those who won’t be able to make it to Milan and have an interest in debating how we can feed the planet now, and in the future.

“Seven” is both an Expo paradigm and coefficient: Expo Milan foresees the sale of seven times the tickets sold during the latest football World Cup in Brazil. Every day. Expo will welcome daily an average of seven times the visitors of Disneyland Paris at its maximum capacity. 7000 are the events scheduled to take place during the six-month-long fair. Should I continue?

The European Union will be there to make a strong stance and present openly how its policies, its aids and development projects and its scientific contribution to the global debate on food and nutrition. Here are seven reasons why you should follow this incredible project on social media:

  • One voice for the EU – The European Union as a whole will be represented in Milan. It will not be an institutional but an organizational presence speaking on behalf of all the EU institutions.
  • Alex and SylviaOur journal. Our trip. Our experience in real time through the European Commission’s widest digital network.
  • Thematic weeks Food is a realm that cuts across numerous fields of expertise. To cover as many aspects as possible of the global debate on nutrition, we dedicate social media thematic weeks to deepen the discussion, the information and the content on each specific topic covered by the EU.
  • Facebook – Our eyes, hears and mouth on the pavilion, on Expo, on the visitors. Day by day you will see everything there is to know about Expo2015 and the European Union.
  • Twitter – To keep yourself in the loop. Our events, our conferences, our statements, our guests and all the material shared and commented on by our digital network. Wanna be part of that? Follow @EUExpo2015 & #EUExpo2015.
  • Instagram – Our creativity expressed in a diary made of images. Ours, yours, the community’s. Be part of it!
  • LinkedInOur microscope on science, policy and development in the realm of global food and nutrition security. For experts, scientists and those who want an institutional answer to their questions about the future of food.

Our social media is strongly based on multilateralism. We publish, we listen, we engage. We are the real time voice of the EU in the biggest event of 2015

Anything more check out our website europa.eu/expo2015

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Visiting a local creative communication agency

I was “forced” at home in Italy for a few weeks over Christmas following some serious foot and ankle surgery. This sort of “constrained stay” gave me a chance to discover the local reality in my small native area in North of Italy about how communication and creative agencies work. Now, I know that not only in Brussels, London, New York and Singapore people and businesses need communication campaigns and social media trainings. However, getting to know the guys behind Kreative House, left me very positively impressed for their level of innovation, creativity and down-to-earthness.

CEO and agency founder Cristian Grossi was happy to share his thought about running a communication agency in small town in Italy.

Christian, how did Kreativehouse start?

We started in 2008 as a simple graphic studio. A little naively, we focused mainly on the aesthetic aspects of images and words. Project after project, we learned that emotions are messages that need to be conveyed, that they have their own channel and their own target and need to be treated with extreme attention and care.

To tell you the truth, we promised ourselves we would never do traditional advertising. Classic advertising aims to persuade and to exaggerate the message. I don’t think we could sell irrigation systems or smoked ham.

What are the main challenges about running a creative business in a small town?

The hardest challenge is letting people understand that even if you live in a small town you can provide work of the highest level. We get super excited every time we hear that our fashion line was the season’s top seller with half a million income, or when our campaign for Amnesty International gathered 140,000 signatures in less than one month. But there’s still someone showing up at our door asking us for a brochure or a business card. It’s funny, sometimes we pick up the phone and it’s Gino’s café, and then the next call is from Versace.

How has the communication and creative business evolved in the past few years in your area?

Communication professionals must constantly adapt to new models. Some roles are disappearing. For example, until a few years ago small brands needed a Press Office. Today it’s not essential anymore. You need good content, a Twitter account and a specifically profiled target market.

If on one hand some roles are disappearing, on the other hand, especially on a local level, there is an overload of new professional figures, like social-media-something. Some improvise themselves putting out interesting content into the net without a specific logic. Only a few approach communication as a systemic, deterministic model that guarantees measurable results.

Don’t get me wrong – we strongly believe in the freshness of local creativity (we often joke saying that Milan is “much more provincial-minded than us”). For example, our territorial marketing project «Weloooooveit» focuses on the «proud to be local» idea, on the celebration of homemade tortellini, of the housewife and the shop around the corner. But this doesn’t mean that you can just improvise. We believe that in the field of communication every single action must be planned thoroughly.

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Tell me something more about your clients’ portfolio? Who are they and what do you think made them choose you to run their campaigns?

We had the luck to start with fundraising campaigns for non-profit organizations (the first were Amnesty International, COOPI, Lipu/Birdlife Italy). It’s a challenging field, because the product is actually an idea, a cause, a live emergency. People offer money when they believe in an ideal and trust you. Believe me, building a strong, trustful relationship through a communication campaign is not an easy task. This is why when we landed in the field of product marketing everything seemed so much easier to us! Unlike non-profit, people get a direct return from art, fashion and cultural events.

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What motivates you to keep innovating your business?

If you think of communication like a project, you have to innovate constantly, it’s almost automatic. In our job, we think as communication designers, as project developers. Design must be planned, shaped, targeted – and plays a crucial role in the conception of the brand visibility vectors (product, communication, environment). In this perspective, design has a strategic function, and its development is deeply rooted in our agency’s core values.

roBOt06 Report from roBOt Festival on Vimeo.

What would you recommend to people who want to start a business in creative communication at the local level?

Be creative, but plan projects. Design is really about solving problems. Think global, and please, be proud to be local.

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I envy the ESN Ambassadors for the EU at Expo 2015


“I’m jealous of you.” That’s how I started my social media training to the ten ambassadors from the Erasmus Student Network in Italy (ESN) who have been awarded the chance to tour Europe and present the opportunity to volunteer at the EU pavilion at Expo 2015 in Milan. Indeed, since I was an Erasmus student myself (not so long ago) and had the great opportunity to study European integration at the University of Antwerp, I am very envious of these young men and women who will travel Europe on behalf of the EU and Expo 2015.

Young people are going to be the protagonists of the activities of the EU pavilion, thanks to the collaboration between the European Union and ESN. Social media will help these ambassadors reach wider audiences during their trip and share their experiences with a very personal touch.

The general aim of the “Students 4 Expo S4E” project is, on the one hand, to promote EXPO and, on the other hand, to underline the role of the European Union during the international event which is going to take place in Milan in 2015. Ten students will play the role of “European EXPO Ambassadors” for the whole semester preceding EXPO.

The pavilion of the European Union intends to offer all young Europeans the opportunity to actively participate in a historic event, Expo Milano 2015, contributing to its activities and creating a unique learning and communication experience.

The EU at Expo is looking for over 900 young persons who have a passion for Europe that they would like to share with visitors to the EU Pavilion in their capacity as volunteers. More info on the call for volunteers.

— EU Expo 2015 (@EUExpo2015) January 8, 2015

The specific aim of the project is to increase awareness, in an European academic environment, of the role of the European Union inside EXPO and of the scientific topics at the core of their pavilion. Erasmus Student Network Italia will be responsible for this project and will help the European Union reach students who are not well informed yet about EXPO themes.

Follow #Students4Expo for more info on Twitter.

The European Year for Development: a great opportunity to spark debate on millenium development goals

The EU is the biggest donor of the official development assistance in the world. Four years after the adoption of the Agenda for Change (the European Commission’s blueprint to refocus its development aid to make sure that it reaches those sectors and countries which need it most), 2015 is the ideal time for donors and stakeholders to come together to look at what has been achieved so far, and most importantly, what still needs to be done.

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Despite the current economic downturn, support for development remains high across the EU, with some 85% of EU citizens saying that Europe should continue helping developing countries despite the economic crisis, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey (Euractiv.)

The European Year of Development 2015 will be a key opportunity to raise awareness of development across Europe, and to show European taxpayers know that every euro spent on development benefits both people living in some of the world’s poorest countries, and EU citizens themselves.

The European Year for Development 2015 is the first year designated with such a global theme, since European years have been designated thematically since 1983.

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Pupils playing outside a school built with EU funds in Haiti

The initiative originated in Latvia. The European Year for Development 2015 will take place in Riga on 8 January, as part of the events marking the beginning of the first Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Commission representatives, communication experts, as well as figures from the NGO and business sector all agreed that the European Year for Development 2015 should provide an opportunity to reach out to a wider public regarding the importance of the development agenda. Possible new alliances are being sought with youth and women’s organisations, local authorities, and unions.

The various events during the European Year of Development will focus on 12 themes. The month of January will be dedicated to the theme “Europe in the world”, February will focus on “Education”, March on “Women and Girls”, April on “Health”, May on “Peace and Security”, June of “Sustainable green growth, decent jobs and businesses”, July on “Children and youth”, August on “Humanitarian aid”, September on “Demography and migration”, October on “Food security”, November on “Sustainable development and climate action” and December on “Human rights and governance”.

Among the major events of the European Year of Development are a Belgian opening event with Bozar and Africalia to be held on 17 January, a gender event in Latvia on 2 March, the European Development Days on 2-3 June, as well as a closing event by the Luxembourg presidency on 8 December.

In addition, the Committee of the Regions highlighted another major event, called “Assises of Decentralised Cooperation”, to be held on 1-2 June in Brussels, with 800 to 1000 participants, many of whom would come from developing countries.

Follow #EYD2015 and on Twitter and their Facebook page for more updates.