EU plans Eurovision-style event for 50th birthday
The EU is planning to stage a Eurovision-style song contest and organise cake-baking competitions, under a public relations offensive celebrating the 50th birthday of the EU next year.
The celebrations are part of Brussels' drive to win the public's sympathy after French and Dutch citizens voted down the EU constitution last year, according to Reuters.
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"We have big plans to make the EU more punter-friendly," one EU official told the agency.
The campaign begins this month with the launch of a competition to find a logo and slogan for the EU's 50th birthday.
In 1957, the six founding member states of the EU established its predecessor, the European Economic Community, in the Treaty of Rome.
The ultimate choice for the logo and slogan will be left to citizens in a popular vote, according to a document outlining the plans.
One highlight of next year's festivities will be an EU-wide song and dance party, proposed by Belgium, modelled along the Eurovision song contest, which enjoys huge popularity.
"We want to show the EU can dance," says the document, with live television coverage planned across the union.
But new member states in particular are reportedly unhappy with the song and dance contest idea.
"They feel people are being forced to dance and sing, like they were by the communists," said one EU diplomat according to Reuters.
Some EU officials are also worried about the cost of the festivities, which also include an EU theme tune, a special "European Commissioner's Day" and cake-baking competitions.
The plan marks a new stage in the EU's popularity offensive, kicked off last year by EU communication commissioner Margot Wallstrom's "Plan D" which included the idea of celebrities as EU "goodwill ambassadors."
The European Commission has also recently put particular emphasis in its press briefings on issues directly affecting citizens, such as tariffs for mobile phoning abroad and a blacklist of unsafe airlines.