Central Europe Activ

Which institution gets the most attention on the internet? Using the biggest search engines database, it seems that Commission rules the media attention when we talk about the EU. What is very interesting, that the Eastern and the new member states pay a lot more attention to the EU institutions than the old one.

European Institutions 2003-2009
Google Trends: European Institutions 2003-2009

I created this simple analysis using Google Trends. It is visible, that the European Parliament can rule the Google searches, upon which these frequencies are calculated, only in the midst of the election campaign. The European Council, which makes much more serious decisions than the Parliament, gets equal coverage, possibly because of its relative secrecy and because it does not sit permanently.

The highlighted events on the chart are the following:

A – European Commission calls for visa-free travel to Canada for all EU states

B – European Commission gives aide to Burma

C – President Bush Meets with President Sarkozy of France and President Barroso of the European Commission

D – European Parliament honours Chinese dissident

E – European Commission proposes euro200B economic plan

F – EU faces deep, broad recession: European Commission

Attention in Google Searches
Attention in Google Searches by Languages

I made the following chart in Excel from the data I have downloaded in CSV format from the Google Trends. Each comparison is made to the language where people show the most interest towards the European Parliament. This is the Greek-speaking community of Europeans, and their level of interest is taken as 1. If you see another bar at a value of 2 it means that it creates twice more searches in another language for another institution.

European Institutions By Countries February 2009
Attention in Google Searches by Countries

The list of regions (cities and their suburbs or nearby localities) is also very interesting. Not surprisingly, eurocrats are the most interested in the EU, so Luxembourg and Brussels are miles ahead. The surprising fact that there is a relative high interest for the European institutions in the United Kingdom is partly explained by the fact that it has a town which had been always more open to Europe: Edinburgh.

Google Attention by Region (City)
Google Attention by Region (City)

I do not know much about the working methods of Google Trends, so there might be some linguistic or other bias in the results, but I think they are very interesting. The first chart is very reliable and I think it shows the relative decline in interest for the European institutions and the present Parliament’s failure to get public attention.

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  1. Overall an intriguing piece which I thoroughly enjoyed. That being said, a couple of conclusions are reached a little too hastily. While I agree the Council is more powerful than the EP, to state that it “makes much more serious decisions” without further qualification seems a little slap-dash. In my field (telecoms), for example, the power of the EP and Council is relatively even. Moreover, the decline in search from 2004 – 2008 might not be a clear cut case of loss of interest from the general public. It would be worth considering contributory factors, such as the Lisbon Treaty/ constitution.

  2. Well, I disagree with you on the power sharing of the Council and Parliament. But there is one serious flow in the analysis: it does not take into account the language differences. The term ‘European Council’ is so sought after in Eastern Europe because you find nothing under ‘Európai Tanács’. Although the portal of the EU has a Hungarian section, most of the Hungarian links point to English language documents. But the trends are very interesting.

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