In this dissertation I have tried to close the gap between the research in pan-European political communications and research of the European Parliament. There is a lot of research political communications, but it is rarely pan-European. There is also some research on the European Parliament, but there is no research that combines both. This type of communication is an activity that spans over several communications practices, notably: institutional, public policy, corporate and issues management. In practise this gap posed some difficulties when finding literature posed, much of the literature in political communication has national angles and/or looks at individual political parties which make it unsuitable for this pan-European project. It is much the same with the rest of the material.
Is this a necessary piece of research? Leaving aside individual thoughts and viewpoints about the EU in general, the only EU body in which European citizens have a direct influence over is through the election of members to the European Parliament. As an elected body, it is accountable for its actions and so its communications are critical. With increasing criticism and disillusionment about the EU construct, EP communication is a vital aid as a basis for citizens to form their opinions. Decisions by national parliaments are decreasing as more powers are given to the European Parliament and its elected members, so how the European Parliament communicates is of utmost importance. It is also essential that EP communications are unbiased and factual. This is not only because of Parliament’s integrity and trust; it is because the EP communications are the only source of non-partisan information that EU citizens can access. We need to be confident that this information is useful and does not attempt to persuade us to take a specific stance. The fact that so few citizens bothered to vote is not not only because the EP lacks branding and feels far away from us citizens, nor is it because there is a general downward trend in voter turnout. I am convinced that one reason for the low voter turnout is that the EP seems out of touch with our reality and its election-related communications are so bland, that it doesn’t speak to us.
My main findings are two. First, there is a gap in the communications research on pan-European political that needs to be filled. The European Parliament is coming of age which means a new era for European politics with European political parties that have the EU as constituency which in its turn will mean changes in how political communications will be made.
The second finding is that any communications campaign needs to be based on properly framed messages.