Thursday, 21 September 2017

EURAO - The Future of Representation?

Regular readers - if there are any - will know that, whilst I support the idea of the RSGB as a society, I have never really supported it in the way it works.  Or, rather, doesn't work - for me.

The RSGB is, I think it's reasonable to say, a society struggling to stay relevant in an electronic age where opinion, dissent and discussion is easy and immediate, and can no longer be stifled by glacial, impenetrable committee structures that have only ever really served as a place for those who seek self-importance to find comfort.

I've been quite encouraged, therefore, to discover EURAO - a nascent representative body for all amateurs across Europe - and even beyond.

Recently, I joined EURAO after some time of keeping an eye on how it developed.  I was eventually persuaded to join by a very public clash between the then president of EURAO and (Region 1) IARU's bigwigs (some of whom are, of course, ex-RSGB bigwigs).

The nature of this clash exemplified the kind of conflict that the more comfortable, established radio organisations have with a new generation.  IARU seemed, to put it mildly, threatened by a new body in the form of EURAO claiming to represent all of ham radio.

The problem for the likes of IARU and the RSGB is that their very legitimacy derives, ultimately, from the goodwill and support of the radio community.  If, in future, they display what might sometimes be seen as a 'Little England' mentality, then they will, given a few years, probably find themselves washing up on the shores of irrelevance.  Personally, I would cry no tears if they did, and it would be a mistake to think that the attempted return to Colonial Britain via Brexit will bring a New Golden Era for the likes of the RSGB.

The great thing about EURAO is that it isn't fixed in one country.  That makes it considerably more dynamic and open to different ideas.  Just have a read of this fascinating interview with EURAO's new President, YO9RIJ, to see how very different life and political experiences can bring so much more to understanding the future of amateur radio.

Perhaps the best words I have read from EURAO so far are these, from YO9RIJ's interview:

"EURAO will remain an independent entity that defends the interests of ham radio in Europe and the world, regardless of the actions of other societies."

That is the absolute crux of the matter: representing the grassroots experience of radio, and ignoring, where appropriate, foot-dragging playground politics by dinosaur-like traditional societies.

True, EURAO is still very young and its degree of influence within any individual state is almost absent - at least for the time being.  But that can change.  I hope it will, because under the RSGB in its present form, simply trying to 'keep calm and carry on' in the same way as it has always done has largely failed to save our hobby from RFI, over-restrictive planning and ever-increasing pressures on the spectrum.

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