Well, you didn't expect they could make up their own minds, did you?
The briefing note blamed "A growth in readership and distribution of Eurosceptic British press" for the no vote. It said:
"Since 2002 we have seen an increase in UK with "Irishised" editorial of titles. 41% of all Irish people read one or more of the following; the Irish Sun, Irish News of the World, Sunday Times, People, Irish Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. These have proven to be significant opinion formers which in general have been more Euro-hostile."
"While much has been made of the increase of UK tabloids and broadsheets, what has gone mainly unnoticed is the growth in reproduction of foreign news in indigenous Irish titles like the Irish Examiner, Irish Times and Irish Independent. The Irish Independent takes much of its European news from the Daily Telegraph. Despite being the largest national daily title, it no longer has a Brussels based journalist. The main reason for this is the cost cutting that many of the indigenous Irish titles underwent in the early part of the decade. Both the Irish Times and Independent reduced editorial staff numbers. This has created a dependency on outsourcing reporting to UK titles."
The note says "Not only has the editorial been largely critical of Europe" (which isn't true) but also, "it is rumoured that it has been refusing contributions from staff that are pro-Europe" (a likely story).
So much for the Commission staying out of politics and merely providing neutral information. This is a one-sided briefing, designed to make people feel like they were tricked by the Brits.
We rang the Commission's DG communication to ask who had produced it. They said that it was "not an official document" but merely a "routine" note produced by the Commission's representation in Ireland which was meant for "internal" use. They were "surprised" to see it in the Irish Times. That said, they "didn't see anything controversial in it."
This "unofficial document" follows on from the previous misleading note on the commission's private "poll". That was a "leak" too. It seems like the Commission is "leaking" pretty badly. Basically the Commission punts out partisan briefings and then denies responsibility.
Nonetheless, leaving aside the none-too-subtle Brit-whacking, and the Commission's "unofficial" interventions in politics, the most intense criticism in the note is reserved for the evil internet. It warns that:
The internet has allowed increased communication between citizen groups away from Government and traditional media dominated sources.
Blogging is also seen as an anti-establishment activity. Few Yes campaigners came out with forceful counter arguments or were inspired to do so.
Because of the many different sources of No campaigners on the internet, classic rebuttals is made impossible.
And so they have. Or rather, they're planning to.
The EU has had an issue with the internet for a while now (consistently documented by Richard North) .
Basically they don't like the internet because they can't control it.
So today the European Parliament’s Culture Committee has voted for a report (here is the draft) which proposes that the EU should regulate blogs.
It’s been a big deal in the Swedish blogosphere/media for some time. The final version of the report released today is somewhat watered down and written in vague language, but it appears as if a few potential regulations are proposed. It seems as if the idea is to make blogs subject to similar rules as the print and broadcast media. Proposals seem to include:
-> Making it impossible to blog anonymously, and making significant bloggers declare their interests.
-> Bloggers would be forced to give a right to reply to persons that are criticized in a blog post.
-> Introducing a code of conduct for the private-user-generated content and a system of royalties for such content (similar to the one used in broadcast media if I understand it correctly).
-> Bloggers should be pressed to voluntarily publish their “aims and background.”
The report complained that:
"The undetermined and unindicated status of authors and publishers of weblogs causes uncertainties regarding impartiality, reliability, source protection, applicability of ethical codes and the assignment of liability in the event of lawsuits. It recommends clarification of the legal status of different categories of weblog authors and publishers as well as disclosure of interests and voluntary labelling of weblogs."
The EP will vote on it end of September, according to the Swedish blogger HAX. Commissioners Reading and Wallstrom are said to be working on something similar.
Leaving aside whether it is even possible to do any of these things (hopefully not) the fact that MEPs are prepared to propose it in the first place is terrifying.
The report was initiated by Estonian Socialist MEP Marianne Mikko. As Swedish MEP Christopher Fjellner has pointed out, Marianne Mikkos view of journalism makes one think of George Orwell’s book 1984.
Which sort of makes sense, given that Mikko does have a degree in journalism from the Soviet Union - from 1984.