Before she went on to fail with the UN, Margot Wallström did not make the citizens love the EU when she was a Commissioner for Communications, despite billions in propaganda budget. Or maybe she failed because love can’t be bought, only earned.
One EU’s many goals is that more than half the residents should be EU-positive in 2014. The interim goal is to reverse the downward trend that for over a year ago showed that the EU enthusiasts was under 40 percent. Those who claimed to be neutral was higher. Of course we can add that the EU hasn’t identified what “EU-positive” means and how it is measured. So there is no way to tell if the target has been reached. But then again measurement is so boring.
The EU has many Directorates, it’s Brussels bureaucracy equivalent to national Ministries. There is what not many Secretary of State have dared to start – yet. A ministry that is only engaged in propaganda: sorry, no, it engages in information in order to strengthen solidarity between Europeans – the Directorate General Communication.
In this year’s budget, they have approximately € 97 million to play whoopee with. But the true cost of “information” a lot higher, an estimated ten times as high, as all the other directorates also want to show off. So it was, for example, the Director General of EU enlargement, Stefano Sannino, as the website had to apologize for a bizarre, and in many viewers’ eyes racist, video that was withdrawn from Youtube on Tuesday. But the eager reader can read about that débâcle here.
Well, now it’s not exactly news that the EU produces expensive videos with strange or completely lacking messages. There is even an own viewing channel for them – EUtube. The channel has some 16 000 subscribers – the EU has 276 million citizens. Most films have hardly any viewers at all. “The European Commission, a part of Sweden” has been seen 565 times in the long version. And it has been around a while, they promote their newspaper Europaposten which stopped production 2009.
The goal of the Directorate is to produce 20 000 video minutes this year. But the EU does not stop there. It has a network of radio stations, Euranet, that has been set up to send news of a transnational perspective. It sees itself as “the possible solution to European problems of communication.” No beating around the bush here. It has €6 million in annual budget.
E.g. Denmark, has one broadcaster that use its information, the local radio Mælkebøtten (dandelion) in Fredricia (50 000 inhabitants), which sends Euranet ten or fifteen minutes four days a week. There is a t v-channel as well, EuroNews, which receives €17 million by the EU, which represents a quarter of the channels revenue. EuroNews is not known for its lively EU debate.
European Communication Directorate has been around a long time. It has not strengthened the EU’s popularity or interest with its citizens. On the contrary. All these attempts to convince us to like and to take an interest in the EU has the opposite effect. The mismanagement and lack of judgement from the Brussels bureaucrats flashes at us like in neon.
The solution is simple. Close the DG Communications. The only sure way to increase the citizen’s interest in the EU is for known national politicians in each country to address current issues in the early stage of the process, before decisions are made. Otherwise the mumbling about the idiots in Brussels will continue, and increase each time the EU bureaucrats are using our tax money to beg for love through videos, pamphlets and mobile theatre scenes like EuroGlobe.