2010 Spanish presidency of the European Union

For the first time in the relatively long history of the EU, the presidency of the council was proposed as a shared task.

In 2010 Spain launched the new formula for this co-presidency system: a trio with Belgium and Hungary during the 18 months between January 2010 and July 2011. In order to manifest the shared responsibility for the preparation and implementation of the presidency programme as a team, the three states decided to hold a competition to design a single logo. The competition was aimed at graphic design students in higher education. In the brief, it stated the logo must symbolize the shared knowledge of Europe. The jury, which included representatives of the three countries, selected as the winner a young Belgian student: Antoine Durieux.

The logo pursued one goal: to communicate a pro-European message, the union, with a common element: the “eu” letters, linked, drawn using three bands of colour from the respective flags of the three countries, fluttering in the wind to express the solidarity between the member states.

The brief

The three countries of the presidency decided that Spain would be responsible for developing the full visual identity with the winning logo as a basis. Thus the Spanish presidency commissioned the development of the graphics for all the necessary applications that would later be required by the Belgian and Hungarian presidencies.

Clearly the European Union understood the service that design can provide to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Development of the Spanish visual identity

Using as a basis the official logo, the Spanish institutional graphics were based on two core elements: “surfaces” and “lines”. The objective was two-fold: first to create an instantly recognisable “visual umbrella” for the Spanish presidency, and also to design the related and coordinated resources in such a manner to be easily applied in a varied, pertinent and attractive manner to the multiple needs of such a broad communication programme..

For the “surfaces” resource the drawing of the official logo’s letters was interpreted as a border or boundary for direct colour backgrounds, where the letters “e” and “u” are cut at the top and fragmented in the diverse compositions always adapting to the available application space.
This resource is used primarily –though not exclusively– for signage, banners, architectural signage and promotional elements. It has great visual power and capacity of recognition, transmitting a positive, dynamic and modern image of Spain as a member country of the joint European project.

The second resource, “lines”, was based on the outline of the logo’s linked letters. Including two different thicknesses: thick and thin lines that traverse to slice, generating different compositions as needed. This second resource was applied to printed material: stationery and publications.

Typography, in terms of visual identity and public communication, is an element that serves as an information device and also as a unifying resource when creating specific graphics. For this project the “Eureka” font was selected, used not only in the two official slogans “2010.es” and “trio.es” but also for the overall texts for all communication media and publications. This typeface was chosen not only for its legibility and for its design but also because it incorporates characters from Eastern European languages.

The flag and more

A colour palette was devised as a secondary design tool, contributing decisively to the recognisability of the visual line. In this case, with a dual purpose: identity and capacity to meet all expected requirements. This palette was based on the colours of the Spanish flag plus the EU blue and a neutral gray; this chromatic palette was also used on all publication covers associated to the meetings in Spain during the semester.

The support unit for the Spanish Presidency commissioned the basic style guidelines for publications –both for covers and interior layouts– in order to maintain a homogeneous identity with the other communication elements.

For the publications, the choice was to use primarily the second resource, as previously described: the outlined letters of the logo, superimposed onto corporate coloured backgrounds integrated in each cover, so that a grouping of various publications could create compositions that transcended the limited format of a single issue.

Overall identity guidelines
for everyday use

The Spanish Presidency of the EU involved multiple agents related to the various aspects of communication of such a complex event, from official institutions to sponsors, the different administrations or specialized suppliers. A set of graphic guidelines was defined for all agents involved in the promotion and implementation of the Spanish graphic identity to manage the every day aspects for basic graphic implementation projects.

For this, a set of five identity manuals were created: a handbook for public institutions, a general manual, a brand manual, one for gifts and merchandising and another for publications, in which the application norms cover the different requirements.

The main objective of these manuals was to establish overall guidelines, facilitating the definition of tasks and production of communication and visual elements in a quick and simple way.

The instructions and style manuals were distributed to all ministries, embassies, suppliers, sponsors and business partners, in addition to all institutions involved in the development of the Spanish Presidency. The objective was accomplished: to facilitate a uniform implementation of the overall identity. The information was provided via email with high-resolution files in CDs. Also the files, with their instructions, were available through the country’s General Administration’s own intranet network, accessible for both the ministerial bodies and Spanish embassies.

A number of special applications were designed: a stamp issued by the Spanish Post Office, the case for a commemorative coin, various invitations and menus, name tags with different security levels, promotional poster –that referred to the original idea of the letters formed as a flowing flag–, livery graphics for Iberia aircraft, various pen drives, t-shirts, umbrellas, mugs, the overall style of the official website and the Annual Report, among others.

The image of Spain in Brussels

The design of the two resources “surfaces” and “lines” achieved the desired aim of all visual identities: recognition.

On the occasion of its presidency, Spain made a number of interventions, both external and internal, in the Justus Lipsius building, headquarters of the Council of the European Union in Brussels. From the 1st of January through to the 30th of June 2010 banners and signs adorned the exterior. The image was also applied to material distributed by the support unit for the permanent representation of Spain in Brussels for the more than 3,000 meetings organised as a part of the tenure in Brussels and Luxembourg.

First Belgium. Then Hungary

The other members of the trio appreciated the success of the Spanish Presidency identity –both in its visual appeal and work method. So much so that Spain was immediately asked to adapt the identity to the following tenure holders: first Belgium, then Hungary.

Beyond the implications of the success of the identity created by Tau Diseño, it undoubtedly helped to contribute to the exterior image of the EU –as well as the trio– during the 18 months of shared presidency.

Client: European Union and Government of Spain