We have just seen an email that the European Commission would probably have preferred we didn't.
Dominic Brett, Head of Public Diplomacy (!) at the European Commission Representation in the UK, has just sent an email out to students and teachers using the huge mailing list of the University Association for Contemporary University Studies. (UACES)
In it, he offers Commission staff to speak to students, either by visiting their universities or by hosting meetings in London, about topics such as climate change and the Lisbon Treaty.
As we've argued many times before, the Commission is engaged in many attempts to influence young people's thinking about the EU - but this has to be one of the most blatent.
Is there any possibility whatsoever that these talks will be balanced? Of course not - this is the Commission, whose job it is to work towards 'ever closer union'. Commission officials speaking to students about the Lisbon Treaty can only mean one thing - trying to convince them that it is a good thing .
How do we know that? Because endless Commission documents confirm that it sees its "mission" as promoting the EU and its policies, not merely providing neutral information. See this latest one for example, which we mentioned the other day. It clearly states that in its communication policy, the Commission aims to "build up support for the European Union's policies and its objectives".
That means, therefore, that this is a completely unacceptable use of public money, and goes way beyond even the remit of the EU institutions. The EU has no mandate for education policy - so why is the Commission interferring in university teaching?
Here is the email in full - we particularly like the "we specialize in" bit, which makes it sound like some kind of corporate marketing bumf. It's like an after-dinner speech service with a twist (i.e. that it's "of course" free of charge, because we EU taxpayers are forking out for it.)
Following the high level of demand over the past twelve months, we're repeating our offer to speak to students in 2009-10. I'm the head of public diplomacy here at the EC Representation in London. Part of our job is to offer relevant departments in English universities (other parts of the UK have their own Commission office) presentations to their undergraduate and master's students. Over the past couple of years, we've hosted dozens of student groupings here in London or gone out to visit universities across the country.
We specialize in:
- key policy areas (climate change, economic recovery package, Lisbon Agenda, Lisbon Treaty, etc.) - the structure of the EU and the division of labour in Brussels and between the Union and its Member States on the other
- careers in the EU institutions.
This service is of course free of charge to any universities who so request it. Generally, we look for a two-month lead time. Our tight schedule and limited budget means we can't satisfy every request.
If you're interested, please e-mail me.
All the best, Dominic Brett
Dominic Brett Head of Public Diplomacy European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom