What do you see in the clouds? 2012 State of the Union

Earlier this week saw President Barroso’s State of the Union address down in Strasbourg. Excitement clearly peaked in our office (if not the rest of Europe with the exception of some in the UK press) with talk of Banking Unions and, dare I even utter the word as a Brit,”federation”. We even felt moved to produce an ‘occasional’ paper for the event, which you can find here on our website.

One part of this paper is reproduced below, it’s two word clouds contrasting this year’s speech with the previous years and our thoughts from Wednesday are appended below. Be interested to know what you see in the clouds… do they have a silver lining or perhaps suggest continued rain ahead (this is Brussels after all)?

2011 State of the (European) Union

2012 State of the (European) Union










It is often said that one of the keys to effective communication is repetition. The word clouds above formed using wordle.net on the basis of the text of the speeches count the repetitions of the words used in the speech. In both cases the words “European” and “Commission” have been removed.

In contrasting the word clouds of the two speeches, the shift in emphasis towards Barroso’s 2012 focus on building the case for a “political” union is clear. It is also noticeable that while we still may be in “crisis”, the President did not choose to focus on it in either speech; instead he chose to emphasize the “need” to act and the idea that we “must” do so in both speeches. Given the focus of the 2012 address it is perhaps unsurprising that the “Euro” is less prominent in the 2012 cloud than that formed by his 2011 address.

While the President of the Commission may have been addressing the European Parliament, it is the “Member” “States” within Council who get a lot of his attention. In this year’s speech the Member States were chastised for their lack of long term reform, not showing the necessary solidarity, briefing after summits and being beholden to vested interests. Given the 2012 speech’s rallying call to eventual Treaty change, the “world” gets less attention than a year ago according to our word clouds. No doubt there will be those who will suggest that opening up the prospect of a Convention, IGCs and Treaty change are exactly what is not required.



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[…] very much on the economic stability of the union and tackling the financial crisis. Compared to his 2012 speech, this year Barroso’s cloud paints a more inclusive picture highlighting the importance of member […]