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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Paying people to tell you what you want to hear

Just received a ridiculous survey to fill in from Gallup Europe, which is working on behalf of 'Friends of Europe' - a Brussels-based outfit that gets most of its funding from the European Commission.

The survey asks questions about the EU's 'communication policy', with a view to producing a new report on the subject to feed back into the Commission and "improving communication about Europe."

Apart from the obvious issues with the Commission paying organisations to come up with policy ideas to feed back into the Commission, the problem is that all the questions are asked on the assumption that the respondant believes there should be an EU Communication Policy in the first place, which we do not (click here to read why).

Clearly the Friends of Europe wishes to help the Commission's DG Communications department in its ongoing efforts to convince people of the benefits of EU integration. Judging by its last effort along these lines, which was a report for the institutions called Can EU Hear Me?, (resulting in a letter to the EU Commission recommending it "Promote the benefits of EU Membership"), it has no intention of improving people's knowledge of the EU but instead wishes to improve its popularity.

If this survey is to be the basis of the future direction of EU 'communication' policy, we should be very worried indeed. Questions focus on such things as what the Commission should be doing to improve 'communication' about Europe in schools and in the media, making use of the internet to persuade people of the benefits of the EU, creating a 'Europe' brand, and creating a 'Commissioner for Citizens'.

Having commissioned many polls in the past, we imagine this online questionnaire is not coming cheap. Hopefully they will take note of some of our suggestions, such as scrapping EU Communication Policy altogether and allowing people a direct say on the big EU questions like treaty change. Is anyone in any doubt that Irish people will be the best informed about the Lisbon Treaty and the EU in general than any of their European neighbours, as a direct result of the recent referendums?

1 comment:

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