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Who are you laughing at? Around Europe in 345 jokes

Wed, 05/11/2016

By Leonardo Sforza , Managing Director, Brussels, MSLGROUP

The European Union has just celebrated its annual Europe Day on 9 May at one of the most challenging times for its institutions and the future of the European project under a number of impending threats. These range from the management of the refugee crisis to people’s increasing dissatisfaction vis-à-vis the EU direction – now more often seen as an elitist and bureaucratic project rather than a citizens’ core set of values that has guaranteed peace, stability and improved living conditions.

Romain Seignovert - Tour d Europe en 345 blagues In the face of this gloomy context, the majority of young Europeans remain the most supportive of the European Union project, notably because it has enabled their aspiration to travel, study and work in other EU countries, even for a short period of time and gain an always enriching experience. Romain Seignovert , who presents a humorous European tour across 345 jokes in his new book , is a great example of this so-called “Erasmus” generation. This is the name given by the European Commission to brand the most important student exchange program ever seen, named after the Dutch philosopher Erasmus of Rotterdam , who lived and worked in many places in Europe to expand his knowledge.

Romain, a French national who after his graduation in France moved to finalise his studies in Germany and Spain, is now working in Belgium at MSLGROUP Brussels office where he leverages his multiple linguistic capabilities and cultural sensitivities to cope with Europe’s diversity. He has embodied the EU motto, United in Diversity, making it his own “ weltanschauung ” and when he talks about Europe he does it with the experience gained from his personal exchanges with people in each of the towns he has lived in.

Understanding Europeans means understanding how they come to a common place from very different cultures with stereotypes and prejudices and a wicked sense of humour. This type of humour is part of what has made Europe tick for decades, if not centuries.

Every European country takes the mickey out of its neighbours – but in a different way, often revealing old and new stereotypes characterising their own individual perception of the others. On this funny journey around Europe, you will discover this wicked sense of humour of European citizens–a different way to better understand the different cultural sensitivities and the many prejudices that remain to be overcome when Europeans interact.

De qui se moque-t-on? Tour d’Europe en 345 blagues “, by French publishers L’Opportun, May 2016.

Leonardo Sforza Leonardo has 25 years of Brussels-based experience in addressing European Union policy issues and corporate strategies. Until March 2012 Leonardo was the Head of Research and EU Affairs at Aon Hewitt were he has been advising global multinationals and the European Commission on financial service institutions, human capital and governance. Before that Leonardo worked for several departments of the European Commission where he led numerous initiatives supporting job creation and business competitiveness in the service industry. Leonardo has been chairing since 2005 the scientific committee of the European Club for HR, and lecturing on European Community Law at Italian, French and North American Universities.

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