Hello. Welcome to Press Corner when we look at recent news in the media and on the web with three leading journalists. Let me introduce them: Jakub Adamowicz of the newspaper Luxemburger Wort; Stephen Castle, a journalist in Brussels with the International Herald Tribune; and long-time Brussels correspondent for Ireland's RTE radio and TV service, Tony Connelly. Welcome to all of you. I'm pleased to have you here. We'll hear from all of them in the course of the programme. First, to review some of this month's media stories we have Patrick Delfosse. Hello, Patrick. What have we got today? We start with a press review focusing on Europe's identity and economy. We'll start with the Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo saying: How's your Spanish, Jim? - Not very good. It means: Zapatero's broken heart. He invited Obama to the EU-US summit, but Obama just turned down the invitation. He wasn't really interested. He said the programme was too vague and he wouldn't go to Spain just to eat tapas. He could have had paella. - That was also possible. The US press compared Zapatero with John Travolta. You all remember "Grease" and Sandy. We all remember Sandy. Olivia Neutron-Bomb, as she was known. Zapatero just wanted to impress Obama, like John Travolta wanted to impress Sandy. Not for quite the same reason, I suspect. Obama will meet King Juan Carlos anyway, so this is enough for the US-Spanish relations. That's what the American press tells us. The weekly European Voice says: "Clinton calls Buzek on SWIFT". Again, a question of identity inside the EU. The US argues that the agreement is a vital element in the fight against terrorism and that information produced has already prevented terrorist attacks. The interesting thing is not the question of SWIFT or not SWIFT. It's the way the Americans try to lobby at a European level. We remember Kissinger's words: "Please give me the number..." "Who do I have to call in Europe?" Since the Lisbon Treaty, it should be done. And the person they want to call is... - Jerzy Buzek. Stephen, does that surprise you? - It does slightly. I'm not sure it's the right decision, if you want to influence this vote, to go to Buzek. I think it's fair enough. The Americans clearly have an interest here. The Europeans always complain they're not taken seriously by the US. What's better than a call from Hillary Clinton? Obviously Mr Buzek was pleased to get a call from Mrs Clinton, the Secretary of State. But what does it show about American knowledge of EU structures? There are complaints that Lisbon made it unclear. I think it is unclear. This is a sign of the times. We're approaching a situation where Justice and Home Affairs is going to be equally the competence of the EP. We'll have to get used to this very messy, difficult sort of negotiation which we'll see more of in the future. The Americans will have to get used to it, but so will we. Hillary Clinton just proposes some things: The US and EU Member States are prepared to grant MEPs more powers of oversight if it approves an interim EU-US data-sharing deal. So this is maybe the way to say the US tried to go inside EU policy and tried to give something to MEPs. Is that the right way to go? I think what we're seeing here is a trial of strength between the Parliament and the European Council and Member States. The Americans are incidental. They've been caught up in this battle between the two. What slightly worries me is that we've heard an awful lot about the powers, the competence of the EP, and very little about the substance of this issue - whether this SWIFT agreement is a good thing or a bad thing. That's unfortunate. If the decision is taken on those grounds, those are not the correct grounds. If I bring Jakub in here, I was outside the Conference of Presidents when they were meant to meet Mr Van Rompuy. He was kept waiting for half an hour by a row over the SWIFT agreement. Clearly there isn't much agreement at European level. Do you think the level of that argument is understood? This is a test of competence. The EP has to decide itself how big its stake in European policies will be. The Lisbon Treaty has been in force for two months. This is a decisive time for the Parliament to show whether it will be a sui generis factor in the EU or whether it will continue its downward role. In that sense, if the Conference of Presidents has a discussion for an hour it's even better. Maybe Mr Van Rompuy had to wait a while. That's a sign that maybe he needs to have more nuts if he wants to be President of Europe. He paid them back. He read some of his haiku poetry apparently. We continue with identity and economy. The German daily newspaper Handelsblatt writes: How's your German, Jim? - Not very good. It's not only about Greece any more. The Eurozone needs to set up an emergency plan to avoid panic on financial markets. If Greece goes bankrupt a second financial crisis could erupt. You could ask what the question of identity is here. And we go to the next personality - representing the euro, on one side Mr Trichet and on the other the President of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker. You know the big meetings coming up are the G20 and the G8. Mr Juncker has been invited to neither the G20 or the G8, So, again, a question of identity here. Tony, your country, Ireland, did extremely well in trying to address the problem. You had a huge financial problem but the government grasped the nettle and took very vigorous action. It has been praised by the Commission and others for that. Is that a route that other countries, like Greece, Spain and Portugal, should take? The great thing from an Irish point of view was that the Greek crisis suddenly cast us in a better light, so in the next Eurovision Song Contest we'll give 12 points to Greece. But I think it is a real problem now for European policy-makers, particularly the European capitals, how they address this issue. If the signals from France and Germany have been that Greece shouldn't be bailed out in these circumstances, the very lack of a definite line from the capitals adds more instability and uncertainty to the markets. So they must find a way to say, "We may bail you out in certain circumstances, and we will do that in these conditions." An American economist this week said that this is what you get when you have a single currency without fiscal, political and labour-market union. Fiscal and labour-market union. Do you see a gap? Quickly, each of you. Jakub first. It's a peace project. It's not an optimum currency area but that wasn't the point. The point was to prevent wars, and now we must manage this first big challenge. It can be managed. Bailing out Greece isn't an option, because that would mean that every other domino effect that comes would pose a big threat to the currency. I don't agree. Bailing out Greece is an option and I think privately EU leaders are discussing it behind closed doors. But they don't want to send that signal to the markets. Unfortunately nobody now is looking at how to change the machinery to avoid a repetition of this or at least to lay down some procedure for the future. There were proposals for a European Monetary Fund based on the IMF and that's an idea that should be discussed on Thursday rather than how the European economy will progress in the next decade. There is still a question of identity that you raised. Yes, another one, but, as you said, a question of communicating. We were talking about the end of a war and how to do it. This is NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper, saying: I have to ask you again... Sorry. Which means: It doesn't look good. It's something from the EU again. I'm talking about logos. Maybe we can see all these logos on screen. Think of all the logos for EU campaigns which are more symbolic of bad taste. That's at least what the journalist says. He asks the institutions to give the job to professionals and not to interfere. It might be that they give it to professional communication agencies, but they interfere and say "Maybe we'd like it like this." And this gives the kind of things you see here on screen. Gentlemen, if you look at this, do you think this is the way to get citizens interested in what Europe's doing? What do you think of the logos we use in Europe? I think they're a real hazard actually. I remember the British Presidency in the 1990s. They asked a schoolchild to paint a picture of every EU country. It was a disaster. There was a diplomatic incident with the Italians, because the symbol of Italy was a pizza. I think Ireland was spelt wrongly. The whole thing was a catastrophe. It is best left to the professionals. Back in the early 1950s, the Council of Europe, which is across the river here, held a competition to design a logo and they decided on 12 stars on a blue background - now the flag of Europe. But they've still got the 300 or so entries stored there and some would make your blood run cold, I can tell you. That's... - That's all for this week, Jim. Thank you very much, Patrick. That was our look at the media for today. We now come to a different point in the programme. This is anger management, when I ask each of my guests if a story in the last week or so has made you upset or cross. Tony, you first. Is there anything in particular that's annoyed you? I guess, going back to the financial crisis, the big sensitivity in Ireland is this acronym that's surfaced, the PIGS. Ireland has been lumped in with the other Eurozone bad boys, countries with high deficits and high public debt. We are lumped in with Portugal, Greece and Spain, so this acronym, the PIGS, was coined by somebody or other. It's very offensive for a lot of Irish people for obvious reasons. Also, as we said earlier, Ireland did bite the bullet, it did impose two very difficult austerity budgets and we have been trying to claw ourselves out of that bracket. It seems a bit unfair to include you when you've taken action in Ireland. We like to think the 'I' refers to Italy and not Ireland, but I'm sure they wouldn't be happy. - Probably not. Anything else? Jakub. We are discussing George Orwell and "1984" in Luxembourg, since we have a lot of debates in that current currently - it's SWIFT, also banking secrecy, and the new rules about the supervision of transnational data exchange. Some people say we should apply the same standards - either we want data protection and consumer protection in all areas, we should strengthen the EU negotiations with the US in the SWIFT framework and also make sure we have a balanced approach on scanners in airports. But we should also ensure that in terms of data exchange we apply the same standards and don't go into a different logic, so there would be some coherence in EU policies. I think a more general annoyance... European politicians and bureaucrats and the turf wars that they have a penchant for. We've had the Lisbon Treaty now for only a couple of months and since it came into force, all we've seen is a series of battles over power and influence. We've seen Barroso versus Van Rompuy, the Council versus the Parliament, the Spanish trying to get their oar in. It also seems to me that the Lisbon Treaty... We were warned by the Eurosceptics that the Lisbon Treaty would make things worse and European politicians are doing their best to prove the Eurosceptics right. We'll look now at what we call our image of the month. No prizes for spotting what it is. Let's see what's going on. And we can see lots of people voting. They're choosing a new Commission for Mr Barroso. No great surprises there. This time there was only one person who was rejected by the Parliament. Does that come as a surprise? I don't think so. I think you'll always get at least one scalp in a Union of 27. Mrs Jeleva obviously didn't do herself any favours. It allows the EP to show that it's flexing its muscles, that it's setting very high standards. It was more embarrassing for the Bulgarian government than it was for Barroso. Barroso was able to step back from the process and say: "On paper she has the right qualifications." He was quite clinical in his use of language on that occasion. She fell on her sword and the whole thing moved on and her replacement was found. The EP could say they were setting the highest standards, Barroso said, "Fine. We get our Commission." I think Barroso will probably be satisfied with the way it was handled. There was quite an argument behind the scenes. It wasn't just political group against political group. We saw people from different countries fighting old Cold War battles - for example, the Hungarians and the Slovaks had a big argument. Was that a surprise? - Definitely. The challenges were even greater than five years ago. Barroso has achieved one thing. He successfully put the Commission through the big enlargement. But the world isn't standing still. The challenges today - look at Copenhagen - show us that we need a lot more than we have now. Unless Barroso wants to enter the history books as the man who presided over the eclipse of Europe on the world stage, he'll have to do some things differently. Of course, as you said, little battles between some countries over petty influences won't help. It's like reliving history. Do you feel there are lessons to be learned from this? I think the hearings themselves exposed a few weaknesses. One was in the conduct of the hearings, which didn't seem focused or well-conducted in a number of cases. The second was over the selection of the candidates. Regarding the Bulgarian candidate, Mr Barroso had been warned for months that she would run into trouble, but actually he has very limited power over the selection of Commissioners. On that process of designation, it seems to me there should be greater scrutiny before we get to the hearing. I heard that Mrs Jeleva and Mr Barroso had an argument at their first meeting. She wanted to decide which portfolio she got and he said that was his job. But this is all hearsay. We'll go to the next part of the programme. This time we're joined by Lavinia Hoyos, my colleague here, who I know spent much of last weekend surfing for interesting blogs and Twitters. I'm sure that's a contradiction. It's our Media Buzz section. So what have you found, Lavinia? Hello to you all. On our last programme I told you about "huis clos sur le net" - that's "behind closed doors on the internet" - in which five journalists from Francophone radios retired to the southwest of France in the Périgord from 1-5 February with no form of media or communication except Twitter and Facebook. They reported on the experience daily on a blog and on different radio stations. How did the public react to this? There was a lot of positive publicity about this trial at the beginning and anticipation about what would come out of it. But some people felt that this publicity influenced this experience and it may have changed the behaviour of respondents who either tried to help them or mislead them on purpose. What conclusions did the journalists draw from all this? They drew a number of conclusions. On the positive side, these social networks are, according to them, a good tool to find out what the world is talking about now. The anonymity allows more freedom of expression and humour and it also enables journalists to find useful contacts. Through Twitter the journalists got in touch with an arrested Russian protestor who tweeted from his prison cell, and also the Haitian journalist Carel Pedre who is said to have informed the world first about the recent earthquake in Haiti in January. The journalists concluded that the direct link between the reporter and the citizen on social network sites should allow journalists to be more reactive to citizens' interests. With things like Twitter and Facebook, the problem is that you're dealing with rumour rather than fact. One thing they reported on was an explosion in Lille that never happened. Indeed. On the second day of the trial, 2 February, a rumour circulated about an explosion in Lille caused by a gas leak, and within two hours there were over 5,000 tweets on it. A Facebook group was created which 500 members joined within just a hour. It was in reality a military plane which had broken the sound barrier and caused a sonic boom. The journalists did face some hoaxes, but they generally thought they were quite exaggerated and easy to detect. Their main problem was general frustration at not having access to any form of traditional media or other sources of information. They found it so time-consuming to verify the information they got from Facebook and Twitter that there was no time to analyse the data and draw concrete conclusions. I'm never sure how much notice to take of anything on Twitter. I don't what you can say in a few seconds. Very briefly, literally in a sentence, do any of you use it or take notice of what you see on things like Twitter and Facebook? Can we answer in more than 140 characters? I don't use it myself. I'm still a bit baffled by Twitter, to be honest. I have reservations about its use in journalism because of rumouring and not being able to confirm the accuracy or veracity of something. So I have reservations. I have quoted one tweet, I can report, but I have to confess that I was directed to that tweet by a telephone call from a press officer, so it was kind of old and new media. Jakub, do you use it? - I use Facebook, but not very actively. It's a great network device to contact people you haven't seen for a few years. That's my main reason for using Facebook, but I don't Twitter for the time being. I think it's fascinating that the one that the MEPs all use is called Europatweets. You only need to replace 'ee' with an 'i' and it becomes an unfortunate word. Anyway, Lavinia, thank you very much for that. That's it for this month. Thanks to our guests - Jakub Adamowicz, Stephen Castle and Tony Connelly. Thanks to Patrick Delfosse and Lavinia Hoyos. I hope you'll join us next time. For now, from Strasbourg, goodbye.