Communicating Europe and to Citizens: Evaluation Report

Bringing Europe closer to its citizens is the aim of Europe’s Communication Strategy. It is not a legal obligation on part of any European Institution to communicate its activities to citizens. Apart from the European Parliament which as the only elected body in the political triangle of Commission-Council-Parliament, the Commission took the first step towards a Communication Strategy vis a vi the public in 2005 after the negative votes in France and the Netherlands on the European Constitution. The Treaty of Maastricht aimed for more than just a single European market and created the need to “fill the gap” between citizens and european decision makers on what is called Communication.

“Not as a rescue operation for the constitution, but to stimulate a wider debate between the European Union’s democratic institutions and citizens”, a Plan D – Democracy, Dialogue and Debate, under Margot Wallstroem, was initiated to respond to this need and other identified weaknesses of past communication activities. In September 2009 the first evaluation report of Plan D and the closely related “Debate Europe” activities was overall negative. The authors came to the conclusion that “Despite an overall objective of “communicating Europe in partnership”, the EC failed to actively seek synergies for Plan D and Debate Europe, either with other DG, or with the European Parliament, or with Member States‟ initiatives” and “The fact that no clear status was given to the results of the projects prevented even the largest events from contributing to the European decision-making process”.

All this has a lot to say about how 6.5 Million Euro is spend on initiatives that yield such results. But more important than the negative evaluation is the fact that the Lisbon Treaty replaced the Maastricht treaty in December 2009. Almost ten years after the negotiations to modify EU institutions began the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is enforced without a significant something filling this gap between citizens and european policies. It is thus imaginable that the gap between public opinion and public policy is not bridged by the principles other than those who dislike the idea that propaganda is always a means to an end.


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