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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Has Martin Schulz been receiving some good PR advice recently?

The EU institutions, and certainly the European Parliament, aren't exactly world renowned for their PR skills. Today we can't blame European Parliament president Martin Schulz for that - perhaps he has a new PR advisor?

In an interview with Dutch magazine Elsevier, asked about the Dutch government's recent 'subsidiarity review' - which concluded that the time for ever closer union in every single policy area was over - he endorses the call for the EU to give some powers back to member states and only focus on essential things:
"Do locally what can be done locally, regionally what can be done regionally, nationally what can be done nationally... I believe we are able to win back trust from citizens."
"For a start, we shouldn't call everyone who is critical a eurosceptic. I am an enthusiastic pro-European, but I think that the EU is in a catastrophic situation. In the Netherlands and Germany, people have the feeling that they pay too much and that they get nothing in return. In Greece, that they're under a foreign regime. In order to deal with this, we must return Brussels' tasks to the national states."
"The Union must concentrate on international trade, migration, tax evasion, climate change, organised crime. For these things, the EU needs to be well equipped."
Naturally Schulz adds the usual caveats that the Commission must be an 'EU government' responsible to both the European Parliament and  member states. Moreover, he has expressed similar sentiments before so we are not sure to what extent this will be followed up with concrete action. It is nonetheless interesting that such a self-avowed EU federalist feels the need to publicly make the argument that EU powers can flow both ways.


Jesper said...

I take it that he says that Eurocrats in their drive to centralise power and decisionmaking capabilities to Brussels has not overstepped any current legal limits?

If all that has been done has been legal what is to stop it from happening again?

Seems like he is saying that the only way to stop Eurocrats from interfering where they shouldn't is to change the treaties so that Eurocrats will not be able to legally interfere where they are neither wanted nor needed.

Good to know that even an insider like him thinks that the current system isn't working.

Peter van Leeuwen said...

For people subjected to decades of anti-EU poisoning in their tabloids Mr Schulz' comments may sound a surprise but not in the Netherlands. The Netherlands’ foreign minister, stating that the time of an ‘ever closer union’ in every possible policy area is behind us, is himself a strong pro-European. His list of 54 action points (pertaining to subsidiarity or “clawing back” to use the favourite eurosceptic term) is quite achievable, and therefore bad news for those who just want their island to leave the EU.

Rik said...

He looks to be going for the script eg companies use when something has gone terribly wrong.
However not in the correct way.
Some points.

1. Do not deny what is undeniable.
You usually make things only worse.
It is clear that the EU on the issue of the distribution of powers does a very lousy job. Denying it puts the issue more in the spotlight (while it is not solved). Where it will most likely reflect negativily on you.
Schultz: positive on that.

2. Make your excuses for that. Mea culpa mea maxima culpa stuff. He is pretty lousy on that. Culpa makes a change of policy much more credible.
Schultz: pretty negative.
With companies there might be some legal stuff, but here you donot have that complication.

3. Come with a clear strategy/solution.
Cannot see one.
Schultz: negative.

So he might have another PR agent but that one maybe not sucks as much as the one before but still sucks pretty much.

Furthermore another point, probably an even more important one, the EZ set up. That one sucks even more than the distribution/transfer of power thingy.
They are still spinning/in denial on that one. While we are not far from the situation that there will be a clear distinction (also in the eyes of the general public) between EZ states and non-EZ states in that respect. In things like eg the allmighty economic growth issue.
With EZ Latinos (say Spain)doing horribly compared to other EZ poors (say Poland) and EZ rich (say Holland and Finland) doing bad compared to Sweden, Danemark, Switzerland.
It is hardly useful admitting that the airco in your brand of car doesnot work properly while at the same time wheels are often falling off.

Another more important issue in the eyes of the electorate: democracy. You need a statement on that as well. Very likely in many countries a more important issue.

It clearly starts to look that this is campaign stuff for next year's election. Which wil make it in general less credible anyway. Especially when it are more loose remarks than concrete policy stuff.

So also in that respect the new strategy needs improving.
So it is clearly a step forward, but one step on a long yourney will not be enough.

Please note: that a reneg on powers in the UK is a big issue, but it is (sometimes not even by far) that in other EU countries.

Rik said...

Strong point.

Imho you need a proper division of powers to tackle that, the Trias thing I would say.
The EU has imho grown too far to put everything back to national institutions. For certain powers that simply will not work. As it doesnot work now. For parliamentary stuff it largely would be possible, but for judiciary stuff imho not. If you have one law you need one top judge, otherwise it gets a mess.

Most will be solved by a revision of the Judiciary imho. When you get a truly independent judiciary (plus proper procedures) things can be checked. Now the Ejudiciary is simply not independent in the Trias sense of the word. As it is has as one of its main objectives to push 'Europeanisation' forward. Which is basically always to the advantage of the executive powers.
Meaning that the strongest party 'in the land', the executive also has a large advantage when things are before a court.

Might have worked earlier when the EU powers were less extended (doubt that btw) but certainly doesnot work when it moves to the daily affairs of people and businesses like we have now already for a considerable period.

So in a nutshell a functioning 'modern' Europe simply needs a revision of the position of its judiciary.

Rik said...

An effective PR strategy is imho simply impossible for the EP.
Too many things have gone wrong.
main issue the Euro crisis of course.

You cannot admit that it is a failure at this stage as EP. As you have no Plan B anywhere in sight. There is no solution for that at this point, at least no one with huge damage to a lot of people. Furthermore it would jeopardize likely the rescue attempts and breaking up the thing is the last thing EUs politicians want anyway.
Also on other issues it collides with the average agenda of the political class (as lefties sometimes call it).

Priority setting is simply wrong. Largely not only EP itself, but effectively over the whole EU. And in a general climate of distrust in politics.
As a consequence a true/real democratic mandate will not happen. There is simply not a platform in the EUs population to carry the things they have to do to make things work. And it looks impossible to create one. Say create a transfer union to save the Euro. Or control massive mismanagement in the South and East by proper oversight.
Anyway nothing is focussed on creating a platform it is simply like here ad hoc/reacting on incidents.

Simply similar to that of 1980's entitlement multipliers. Worked then, doesnot work now.
Furthermore like then not asking the public what they really want (so they are missing a few things). A lot of people are ded up with that mainly as a huge number of things went wrong and some completely wrong.

Schultz presents himself crap. Looks like a 1980s lefty schoolteacher, beard and so on. Fortunately he has changed his suits now.
However his image completely confirms what is negative of the image of the EP itself. Simply completely 1970s-80s, know it better' type. One thing worse than having a bad image, is constantly confirming it.
Same for that Belgian guy VanHofstad or something like that. Utterly crap to represent a modern EP in a modern (to populism moving) Europe.

Anonymous said...

It's been widely suggested Mr Schulz sees himself a future EU President.

This of course is perfect tactical positioning with the members favouring less central control who might otherwise be likely to veto him.

See this as career politics and it becomes much clearer.

Doctor-Spa said...

Me thinks this man talks with forked tongue - he is an absolute federalist and believes only in a bigger more powerful EU..

You could call this PR, I'd call it deceit.

Anonymous said...

Naturally Schulz adds the usual caveats that the Commission must be an 'EU government' responsible to both the European Parliament and member states.

The commission is unelected and has no mandate from any of the peoples of the eussr, it is made up of failed and unelectable politicians, so why should it be a government of anything, the commission should be told what to do like other civil servants not making any decisions whatsoever

christhai said...

Barroso, is in his last days and seeking to smarm his way into the post of Sec Gen UN. (seems they like eurocrooks).

Schultz and Verhofstadt are the two villains hoping for the Presidency of the EU.

Which is why Schultz is being nicer than his natural ascerbic German self.

Anonymous said...

Schulz -- a fascist -- is employing a tried and trusted technique, one often employed by totalitarians who feel their grip on power slipping.

This technique is not called "PR."

It's called lying.

Rik said...

Hard to see that even the EU and especially its major members would be so moronic to appoint one of these 2 (Schultz and Verhofstad) as their next president.
They are simply in the same crap category as Barrosso.

The EU desperately needs a president that could be helpful in keeping the platform with the respective populations. Effectively the platform already is considerably too small so need an extension. However that looks totally unrealistic at this moment.
Trend is South with considerable speed and there is nothing in sight that looks able to break that trend. And a lot that points into the direction of it continuing (Euro-crisis for instance).

All 3 simply donot fit in that description (they donot even come close). All 3 have no appeal (not positive one at least) to large parts of the European population. And stand for things with which a europhile looking for a democratic mandate and a popular platform should want to be associated with.

clinihyp said...

Sound like Cameron's spin doctors have been at him.

The truth is simple, powers once surrendered to the EU are cannot be repatriated, nor under EU law can they be renegotiated without the unanimous agreement of all the member countries!

Rollo said...

Well, he's certainly right about the EU being in a catastrophic situation; right down from its various 'presidents' to the unemployment queues in Greece. Whether it is good PR to tell the truth rather depends on your point of view.

Anonymous said...

What is about GrybauskaitÄ— as new EU president? Does she has a chance?