Do you speak Brusselian?
I’m writing this post from Brussels, where I’m currently working, although I’ll probably finish it in Barcelona. It’s my time in what is known as the capital of Europe that has awoken the need to write this post… my stay and the help of a colleague who, over dinner, offered up a “gem” with his concept of “speaking Brusselian” (thank you Jorge González Olalla for the idea).
Yes, there are many other concepts that must be taken into account that lurk behind the idea of “speaking Brusselian”, even more so these days. Some months ago I heard that “although it doesn’t seem like it, a lot is going on in Brussels.” Well, that’s a simple way of saying something that’s very real… and therein lies the importance of being able to speak Brusselian.
It’s not an easy task for anyone. I’ve spent the past 15 years learning the nuances of Brusselian from different viewpoints and every time I have a project that deals with Europe (in this case, and for the purposes of this post, Europe means the European Union), I’m surprised by how important it is to know how to understand, read between the lines, contextualize and be proficient in Brusselian.
I could give many examples, but I’ll focus on the areas in which you have to speak Brusselian and in which I commonly work:
- Innovation, technology transfer and funding through European programs.
- The institutional system and the “modus operandi” of the European institutional network.
I suppose you’re no stranger to names like “Horizon 2020” and many other programs and policies (to start off, there’s a lot of information here ) and I suppose that on more than one occasion you’ll have wondered how these EU policies affect the day-to-day existence of your business and our day-to-day existence as European citizens ).
Submitting a project to a European call means not only drafting it with partners from other European countries, but also being familiar with the framework documents and main policy lines, taking into account the value chain, attending info days, making sure the proposal is coherent and in line with what each call is asking for… knowing the terrain.
Knowing how European decisions affect your day-to-day reality and that of your company requires knowledge of the EU institutional system, EU laws and how they translates into the laws of each member state, as well as how the European agenda is being framed and how it is evolving.
It isn’t easy to navigate through all of this information, nor within a changing, complex structure (years ago someone told me a joke during a visit to the European Parliament that I still use in my classes on internationalization to this day and it’s that the EU is an UPO… or an unidentified political object). Well, this UPO, despite the criticism (sometimes justified and others based on a total lack of knowledge) is among the greatest sources of funding for companies and organizations, among those who fight the hardest to protect consumers and a place, it must be said, to find ideas and partners and to drive, in a very European manner, the collaborative economy that is emerging.
The European Union has much to improve, from the institutional system and decision-making, to working to “overcome” what is known as the “democratic deficit”, but I must remind you that European integration is a work in progress and you have to show up… and showing up means, among other things, understanding and speaking Brusselian.