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Thursday, April 09, 2009

"Europe, can you hear me?"

This is hilarious.

We learn from Agence Europe that the indefatigable EU Communications Commissioner Margot Wallstrom has announced that she is launching yet a new campaign to encourage participation in the EP elections in June.

This one will be run by the MTV music channel and will target the usual suspects - young people and women. It is "meant to echo the voice of the young", and will cost the Commission (or rather us as taxpayers) €2.3 million.

Apparently, since 6 April, three TV ads have been diffused on the MTV channels to "attract the curiosity of young viewers", and on 30 April at 3.30pm the campaign will gather young people from European cities to cry out “Europe, can you hear me?”.

Artists backing the campaign include Depeche Mode and the Italian singer Tiziano Ferro, who, according to Agence Europe "will be sending out positive messages on Europe."


Eurocentric said...

Perhaps, as a think tank, you could provide an alternative model for engaging voters & encouraging them to vote and express their opinions in manner that is ideologically neutral?

It could be that I'm very naive and have a somewhat idealistic impression of what think tanks are supposed to do, but surely it's a bit more than repeating the tired old "you couldn't make it up" and "guess who's paying for it!" lines.

Alternativiely, if I've missed your take on this, could you point me towards it? I'm afraid I couldn't find any links to an alternative model in the above post.

Open Europe blog team said...

Hi Eurocentric

Yes sure - check out our report on the EU's communication policy, where we look in detail at the efforts to connect with citizens and offer our suggestions for an alternative approach.

You can download it here, or we'd be more than happy to send you a hard copy in the post if you send us your details

One of the main arguments we've been making for a long time here at OE is that gimmicks like this ring a hollow note for those who feel the EU only 'listens' to the single message it wants to hear. The reactions to the French, Dutch and Irish referendums are the obvious examples. Our take is quite simple - rather than paying for publicity stunts (in the middle of a recession) how about them actually listening on those rare occasions when millions of people are sending them a real message? That would do far more to improve the image of the EU - and eventually turnout in the European elections - than these vain efforts to appeal to 'youth' culture.

Open Europe blog team said...

PS - forgot to add - since when was "sending out positive messages on Europe" anything to do with engaging voters and encouraging turnout?

Imagine if, in the UK, the government ran a campaign to get people to vote in the general elections, and we were told that celebrities had been recruited with taxpayer funds to "send out positive messages on the Government". It just wouldn't happen, because it's not allowed.

The reason we constantly flag these things up, is that it is vital that people understand the difference between being given the information they need to be active citizens, and being subtely told that they should support a particular political agenda - in this case 'ever closer union'. If the Commission wants people to vote in the European elections, they should run strictly factual campaigns which tell us when and how to vote, and tell us what MEPs do and don't do. They could of course also encourage public debate by opening the whole decision-making process up to more public scrutiny - as we've argued again and again.

Seems simple to us.

Eurocentric said...

Thanks for the link. It will take a while to get through it.

apa tycka, apa skriva said...

Wow, 2.3 million euroes. For three commercials. How do one go about to get the gig to make commercials for the EU?

Laurent said...

I think it's good idea that the EU tries to connect with the population. However, why only during the election time?

Meanwhile, I have put together a website to track the votes at the European Parliament: www.epvote.eu


Anonymous said...

Dear me, what a waste of money. Especially during a recession! One thing for certain though, I won't be bothering to watch MTV ever again!

Nadina said...

I personally think it is a very good idea to build up a link between EU and the european citizenship and the "Can you hear me Europe" is intended exactly for that.

By the way, did you see the European parliament3s viral videos, launched ahead of the elections in June?
You can watch them here: http://www.youtube.com/europeanparliament