– The one who embraced his emotions –
(Or a swift Q&A with Jaume, director for communications at the European Parliament and spokesperson of the institution)
Q: Barcelona or Brussels?
Barcelona I call my home. But whenever I go back, I do notice that something has changed in the city, so I feel I have to catch up. I still recognize the streets where I grew up and the smells of dishes that I ate as a child. Therefore, it retains that feel of home. Brussels is the place where I spent half of my life, yet I still feel a bit like a tourist here – a tourist that knows the city extremely well (He laughs)
Q: How to communicate Europe?
It all depends on your target audience – whom are you communicating Europe to. The thing is, we try to communicate with all European citizens, yet the same rules do not apply to every citizen. People who are over 60 years old have a different life experience than the younger generation, whose life experience is equally vital but shorter. People will respond differently to things that appeal to them.
For when I talk to the elderly, it is easy to get into an emotional narrative: their parents suffered from the war and it means a lot to them to see Germans and French people voting in the same chamber, for the same assembly, deciding on the same things. I see it for example when I have groups of retired and pensioned visitors – I bring them to the hemicycle and I tell them – here are people from 28 different countries, who speak X languages and work on the same things – this creates emotion for them.
On the other hand, this seems quite normal and does not bring any emotions to people in their mid-twenties, who have grown up with the European Union and the cohesion it brought. They are used to this.
Q: You said that ‘communication has to embrace emotion’. How so?
I think that the European Union cannot be justified by tangible matters. Roaming is very good – the guidelines to avoid the manufacture of single plastic use are very good – but at the end of the day we do not necessarily need the European Union for that. Member states could do it on their own. However, the union between these states, goes beyond tangible matters – it is about values and the state of our democracy.
Q: Are you confident in the state of our European democracy?
I am but I am also aware that it is fragile. It is not because we have achieved economic, ecological, social improvements in the last few years that this will always be the case in the future. A fairly clear example of this uncertainty is Brexit – the British youth did not see it coming. Most of these young people wanted to stay in the European Union, and yet, overnight, millions of them realized, in something resembling a heartbeat in the broader scheme of things, that they were going to lose all the rights related to their European citizenship.
So, we must be careful, we must fight. I consider that treaties do not mean much if these are not accompanied by human legitimacy – because the day when citizens decide that the EU no longer interests them, the treaties alone won’t be able to save anything.
That is why communication is essential – because if people do not know about something, then it is necessary to explain it to them. Without communication, there is no attachment between people and therefore, the subject that is miscommunicated loses its legitimacy.
Q: How do you communicate in your daily life?
I can become emotional when it comes to my work, but I am sure that – should you ask any of my colleagues, they would tell you that I rarely get angry, if ever. Normally I am a calm person, at least I always want to be polite. Nevertheless, my job is not always rational and if I want to do it seriously then I have to believe in it. There is a very important emotional dimension.
Q: Can you give me an example of an emotional episode in your life?
The birth of my first daughter, Marta.
I also still get very emotional when I see my father, whom I do not see often as he lives in Barcelona. It is true that when you separate from your family in the beginning, it is slightly easier but later on, the distance becomes difficult to cope with, especially as your parents grow older. I imagine that this emotion is shared by the many who work here, or work for international organizations anywhere in the world. It is human to miss your loved ones.