I gave a speech about EU online communications at Danmarks Medie- og Journalisthøjskole in Aarhus last year, and yesterday John Frølich – one of the professors there – e-mailed me to ask if I could suggest 20 to 30 EU Twitter accounts that his students ought to follow. So rather than just e-mail back some names, I have made a Twitter list of the 30 accounts, and I explain my rationale for including each of them here.
My emphasis here is on friendly and engaging people – the sorts of Twitter users who, if you ask them a question, they will reply, and people who do not use Twitter just to try to show how important they are. The list could easily have been twice as long, so apologies to those who did not make it. I have also included only personal accounts, and tried to achieve some sort of institutional balance.
So who are the 30?
@BrunoBrussels – Bruno Waterfield
Correspondent for The Times newspaper. He might write for a Murdoch rag, and I tend to disgaree with most of what he says, but – towards me at least – he has always been a charming guy, and he’s one of the very few Brussels journalists who uses Twitter to improve his understanding of what is going on in EU politics.
@OleRyborg – Ole Ryborg
The only Dane on this list (despite drawing up the list for students in Aarhus!), Ole is DR’s stalwart in Brussels. He’s funny, engaging, and uses Twitter to build bridges between Brussels and a national audience, and to provide context for his reports. No-one I’ve met knows more about Denmark-EU relations than he does.
@valentinapop – Valentina Pop
Journalist from the Wall Street Journal, having previously covered EU politics for EU Observer. Astute observer of the everyday politics of Brussels, and provides reliable reports of what is actually happening without the ideological bias sometimes shown by other journalists.
@FMR_Brussels – Frances Robinson
Freelance journalist, formerly of WSJ. Plenty on UK-EU relations, and tweets about life in Brussels mixed in as well.
@PoliticoRyan – Ryan Heath
Former spokesperson for Neelie Kroes, now reporter for Politico in Brussels. He might have a slightly inflated sense of his own importance, but he is the key journalist for the most significant media outlet dedicated to EU politics, and has an ability to dig up significant and amusing stories.
@MalmstromEU – Cecilia Malmström
She might have the poisoned chalice of TTIP to deal with as Trade Commissioner, but she remains the best Commissioner on Twitter. Able to mix interesting everyday observations with serious politics, and she will sometimes reply to ‘normal’ people.
@MarietjeSchaake – Marietje Schaake
Probably the most active MEP on Twitter. Social media is at the heart of her work as a Liberal parliamentarian from the Netherlands, whose work is mostly in the foreign policy field. The example to other parliamentarians as to how to use Twitter.
@senficon – Julia Reda
The only MEP from the German Pirate Party. Her emphasis is on EU copyright reform, and the transparency – on Twitter and more generally online – with which she has approached this policy discussion has won her many friends (even if not everyone agrees with the substance). She’s also very friendly if you ask her questions on Twitter.
@groote – Matthias Groote
You gain a good picture of the life of a MEP from his account – a mix of activities from his native Niedersachsen and policy work from Brussels. His tweets also have quite a political edge from time to time – a sure sign he is writing the content and not one of his members of staff.
@janalbrecht – Jan Philipp Albrecht
A sharp and enterprising Green from Germany with a focus on technology and surveillance. Has integrated Twitter into his everyday work in the EP and is part of a wider Twitter community examining these issues.
@eurohumph – Robert Madelin
Director General of DG Connect at the Commission, he is the most interesting high level official on Twitter. Ready to be controversial and highly political, he heads up the DG that is also the most open to communications on social media.
@paulnemitz – Paul Nemitz
Worth following for the profile picture alone, he is a Commission official working on data protection whose tweets are engaging, sometimes amusing, and have a very political flavour. No trying to sound neutral here.
@ktowens – Katie Owens
She manages to make working in the Committee of the Regions actually sound interesting. She is friendly and engaging on Twitter, and is always ready to help people understand how the EU works.
@avaltat – Aurélie Valtat
Head of digital comms at the Council of the EU, and an incredibly intellectually curious and sharp person. I’m glad the institutions still have people like her working on the inside of the machine.
@dicknieuwenhuis – Dick Nieuwenhuis
Now he has retired as an EU official I am hoping his tweets have even more political edge and good humour. One of the fascinating characters in the Brussels political scene.
@AlemannoEU – Alberto Alemanno
EU law prof at HEC in Paris, and a bunch of other places, and a bundle of energy and good ideas about everything from lobby transparency to behavioural psychology as applied to the European Union. How he manaages to do it all, and find time to tweet about it, is beyond me.
@StevePeers – Steve Peers
EU Law and Human Rights Prof at the University of Essex. Prolific blogger and tweeter about EU law, and always ready to be helpful too.
@Usherwood – Simon Usherwood
Political science academic at the University of Surrey. A specialist in the politics of euroscepticism, he brings measured good sense to the debate about UK-EU relations.
@moniquegoyens – Monique Goyens
Relatively new to Twitter, she is head of BEUC, the European Consumers’ Association. One of rather few senior policy people in Brussels who is both serious and interesting on Twitter.
@StollmeyerEU – Alice Stollmeyer
If you want to know about energy policy in Brussels, she is the person to ask. She has effectively used Twitter to build her reputation for policy expertise.
@PH_AdvocateEU – Catherine C
A determined advocate for better public health policy in the EU, she is a long term Brussels resident and mixes observations about life in the city with the serious politics. Always friendly and helpful (towards me anyway) but tough too.
Commentators / others
@mvanhulten – Michiel van Hulten
LSE visiting fellow, former MEP, thinker about many aspects of EU politics, and Dutch-EU and UK-EU relations. Seems to know all the right people in the Brussels Bubble.
@ronpatz – Ronny Patz
Academic in München is his day job, but he provides pointed everyday critique of the way the EU works. I know no one better at digging out rare EU documents, and discovering interesting content within them. Straightforward, consistent and helpful, he is a must-follow.
@Nosemonkey – J Clive Matthews
London-based and about the only person blogging about the EU longer than I have. He is an excellent observer of political dynamics and has a neat, clear and concise way to explain what is going on.
@kosmopolit – Kosmopolit
A blogger and analyst, capable of excellent insight into the absurdities of the EU in both English and German. Over the years I have grown to really trust his analysis. He maintains some anonymity, but some people in Brussels know who he is.
@ralfgrahn – Ralf Grahn
The closest to a pro-EU troll you will find. Ralf is relentless, consistent, sharp and knowledgeable, a veritable keyboard warrior for a democratic EU from his desk in Helsinki. He’s a lawyer, so ready to help with EU law questions too.
@gawaintowler – Gawain Towler
Comms guy for UKIP in London, and the most fiercely EU-sceptic person on this list. I disagree with most of what he says, but he is consistent, knowledgeable and sometimes funny, and has provided a fascinating insight into UK EU-scepticism for me over the years. More pro-EU folks ought to follow him.
@ottocrat – Chris Kendall
Anglo-German Belgium-UK commuter, and foreign policy specialist, although that does not mean he restricts himself to only tweeting about that! Engaging, and with strong views.
@captain_europe – Captain Europe
The EU’s original superhero. On Twitter, and with a lycra outfit in real life. Bring the light sabre of truth to the debate about the EU! His real identity is a carefully guarded secret.
@Berlaymonster – Berlaymonster
Who says EU politics can’t be funny? Berlaymonster has been proving there are plenty of jokes to be made in Brussels for years – on Twitter and through its blog. Masterful use humour on Twitter often to make a serious political point. Real identity also closely guarded, and never yet seen in public.