11th Jul 2020

EU to start putting up election billboards

  • The financial crisis poster - some of the images flatter MEPs' powers (Photo: Scholz & Friends Group)

The European Parliament will from 1 April begin putting up billboards around Europe to try to get voters interested in the upcoming EU election.

The 10 images, created by Berlin-based advertising company Scholz & Friends Group, are designed to show that EU lawmaking is relevant to people's everyday lives.

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They depict two to three options in various policy areas on a blue background with the slogan "Use your vote in the European Parliament Elections" and the country-relevant date from 4 to 7 June.

For food safety, there is a supermarket chicken with no labels and one plastered with nutritional information. On fuel types, there is a petrol can, an electric battery and a clump of rapeseed to stand for biofuel.

If the Lisbon treaty goes through, the parliament's powers of legal co-decision with the European Commission and member states will be extended to new areas such as immigration and police co-operation.

But some of the images flatter MEPs' authority as things stand.

One poster is to show a dial that can turn to fossil fuels, nuclear, wind or solar power. In EU law, the choice of energy mix is defined as the sovereign right of each member state, not of EU institutions.

Another poster shows a lion and a domestic cat, with the question "How much should we tame financial markets?" The EU's response to the financial crisis so far is a scrap among member states and the commission, rather than an orderly legislative process involving parliament.

The modest poster campaign has €3 million to hit all 27 EU countries in all 23 EU languages, with Germany, Spain and Italy donating some advertising space for free.

Most of the billboards will appear in countries which had the lowest turnout in 2004. The average rate last time around was 45 percent. But the figures in some new member states were much lower, with Slovakia on 17 percent and Poland on 20 percent.

The same images will also be used in a €1 million print and online campaign in May.

A French blogger has turned the official format into gentle satire.

One mock poster shows the anti-contraception Roman Catholic pope next to a pink condom and asks "How do we protect the younger generations?"

Another shows European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso next to a tree sloth, with the legend "What kind of president do we want for the Commission?" - the left-wing blogger is not a fan of the conservative Portuguese statesman.

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