Friday, 9 November 2007

More EU Propaganda

On 3 October, the Commission adopted a communication aimed at establishing a partnership for communicating Europe. In the communication, the Commission put forward proposals for an enhanced communication policy for the EU. Unsurprisingly, the Commission has underlined that “providing full and comprehensive information on European Union” and involving citizens “in a permanent dialogue will be particularly important during the Reform Treaty ratification process.” It is clear that the Commission is seeking citizen support for the European project as well as to increase the participation rate in the next European parliamentary elections.

However, there is a low turnout in the European elections because citizens do not believe in the EU institutions and they find them to be unaccountable – and not because of a lack of information. The Commission has stressed the low level knowledge that citizens have of the EU, its institutions and policies. Hence, the Commission believes that Member States should address this situation “through the educational systems” as well as by democratic platforms such as national and European level political parties. Therefore, the Commission has urged EU Member States to use schools to provide more information about the EU and its integration history. The Commission proposes to identify the aspects of school education where joint action at the EU level could support Member States. Why on earth should the Commission determine the school curriculum given that some children are already struggling to acquire basic skills?

According to the Commission, children should concentrate part of their time learning lessons about European integration. Furthermore, the Commission has made clear that it wants to achieve greater coverage of EU affairs on audiovisual channels. Hence, the Commission has proposed to offer multi-annual contracts for networks of broadcasters across Europe which “will independently produce and broadcast EU affairs programmes according to their own editorial standards using common programme formats.”

Moreover, the Commission also wants to adopt a new internet strategy aimed at supporting “networks of civil society and private or public sector websites with EU focus which promote contact with or between European citizens.” The development of management partnerships with interested Member States are also on the Commission’s plans which are aimed at carrying out joint activities on communication priorities at a central, regional and local level. In order to improve cooperation on the EU communication process, the Commission has proposed an inter-institutional agreement (IIA) to the European Parliament and to the Council. The Commission wants to achieve an agreement among the EU institutions on communication priorities but it has stressed that this will not "prevent each EU institution from having separate communication activities.” The Commission does not have a legal basis for an EU communication policy and the Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström is aware of that. However, with a legal basis or not, soon Europeans will be receiving an even greater overdose of EU propaganda.

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