7th Jul 2022

Commission in new communications drive

The European Commission on Wednesday (20 July) launched a new plan on how to make itself communicate better in the wake of the two rejected referendums on the EU constitution.

Calling the 50-step scheme a "pragmatic programme", communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom admitted that it would not provide a "quick fix" as a complete change of attitude is required in the commission itself.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 54% of Dutch 18-24 year olds did not vote in the EU constitution referendum (Photo: European Commission)

This will mean brushing up the communications skills of officials in the large Brussels bureaucracy, as well as making sure that many different units co-ordinate the content of their policies and when they are to be made public.

In the past, the commission has been known to publish, on the same day, an anti-smoking measure, while at a different briefing a few hours later announcing EU subsidies for tobacco.

Mrs Wallstrom conceded that there was not too much new in the move - much has been said before and much appears to be common sense such as listening to citizens more - but stressed that "what is new is that we have a very clear approach [now]".

She also denied that what the commission is trying to do is put out more propaganda or spin the information so it is more palatable.

"I do not believe in spinning or propaganda", said the Swedish commissioner.

Other proposed steps include having a "citizens' summary" for all major policy proposals to come out of the bloc, a citizens' hotline service and re-organising the commission's website 'Europa', the quality of whose web pages varies enormously depending on which unit is accessed.

Engaging young people

But while these are steps for the commission to take, Mrs Wallstrom was less clear on how to make Europe more attractive to young people.

During the French referendum on the constitution at the end of May, 34 percent of 18-24 year olds did not bother to vote. In the Netherlands, three days later, the percentage was much higher still (54%).

Mrs Wallstrom said that Europe as a project for sustaining peace in Europe is no longer a factor that makes young people support the EU.

Asked about what it is that should make Europe more appealing, she suggested that the EU offer answers to issues such as globalisation.

"You will have to add how the European Union will solve today's and tomorrow's problems", said the EU's first ever communication's commissioner.


EU communications: how not to do it

Faced with growing disillusionment with the European project across the continent and slick, well-funded propaganda from its opponents, it is time for the EU to up its communication game.

Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor

British prime minister Boris Johnson has resigned as Conservative party leader, starting a race among Conservative MPs to replace him as prime minister but leaving a range of issues — Brexit, Northern Ireland, and Scottish independence — for his successor.

Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?

It is Tibor Navracsics, an ex-EU commissioner and minister without portfolio in Orban's new government, who was reportedly picked to work on closer relations between Fidesz and the European People's Party.


'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements

Some modest headway in recognising the unrelenting tide of discrimination and violence facing women worldwide was made at last week's largely self-congratulatory and mostly irrelevant G7 talk-fest. But no one mentioned abortion, just days after the Roe vs Wade decision.

News in Brief

  1. Danish ministers no longer allowed to delete text messages
  2. Report: British PM Johnson to resign today
  3. British PM defiant amid spate of resignations
  4. France says EU fiscal discipline rules 'obsolete'
  5. Russia claims untouchable status due to nuclear arsenal
  6. Catalan MEPs lose EU court case over recognition
  7. 39 arrested in migrant-smuggling dragnet
  8. France to nationalise nuclear operator amid energy crisis

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor
  2. Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?
  3. EU should freeze all EU funds to Hungary, says study
  4. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  5. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  6. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  7. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia
  8. 'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us