Tuesday

26th May 2020

Brussels seeks rebranding of the EU

The European Commission has asked brand experts to begin the difficult job of trying to transform in the image of the EU in an identity crisis.

According to the Financial Times, British brand consultant Simon Anholt will head the panel.

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Mr Anholt, who compared the structure of the 25 member bloc to the al-Qaeda network, has said he has no doubt it will be hard to transform Brussels' image.

"My early experience suggests that you are looking at a model [for the EU] such as al-Qaeda, with separate cells inspiring each other but no overall control, rather than [the centralising approach of] Joseph Stalin," the FT quotes him as saying.

"It is the biggest branding challenge in the world after Nigeria and the USA," said Mr Anholt.

The panel of experts will advise European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on how the union can improve its reputation before a key EU leaders meeting in June.

European leaders are considering extending the so-called "period of reflection" on the bloc's future, which was agreed after the rejection of the EU constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands almost a year ago.

An EU identity

The branding attempt comes after a series of commission steps to deal with the gap between EU institutions and the bloc's citizens.

Steps include EU communication commissioner Margot Wallstrom's "Plan D for democracy, dialogue and debate" designed to boost links with the bloc's 450 million citizens.

On top of this, a .eu domain name was made available for all EU citizens in April, which supporters believe will help promote a European identity.

Last month MEPs hammered out a plan to spend around €200 million on promoting EU citizenship. "We wanted to point out that it is citizens that create Europe in the first place, not the institutions," said Finnish liberal MEP Hannu Takkula.

But the commission itself needs to take concrete actions if it wants to get rid of the EU's notorious reputation, according to Mr Anholt. "You usually get the reputation you deserve," he told the FT.

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