European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

Communication between the EU and its citizens should be improved

Parliament says that the communication between the EU and its citizens should be improved. It, therefore, calls on the European Commission to support the creation of a European public space dedicating sufficient coverage to European affairs throughout national, local and regional media. Member States should encourage the national public audiovisual channels adequately to inform the citizens about the policies conducted at European level.

The own-initiative report by Luis HERRERO-TEJEDOR (EPP-ED, ES) was adopted with 285 votes in favour 54 against with 6 abstentions.
In their rather critical reaction to Commissioner Margot WALLSTRÖM's White Paper on a EU communication policy, MEPs rejected the proposal that all EU institutions should be subject to a code of conduct regulating their communication with EU citizens. They felt that laying down rules of conduct for the elected European Parliament could lead to adverse consequences, reducing the scope for independent opinion. The Commission is asked to propose a draft inter-institutional agreement defining the common principles between the EU institutions as regards communication.
MEPs welcome the Commission's desire to communicate European issues to national, regional and local level in order to decentralise the message. The development of a European administration would help to form strong direct links between the EU and its citizens. The Commission's and Parliament's information offices in the Member States play an important role in this connection. A review and rethink of their work was needed, since, as MEPs said, their activities did not have wide appeal for citizens.
Parliament also took the view that, in order to reach the citizens, it was important to show the relevance of EU decisions for daily life through cooperation with regional and local institutions. Emphasis should be placed on communicating regularly to the citizens about relevant regional and local projects in which the EU has participated, with the objective of favouring a common European project.
Concerning working with the media and new technologies, the Commission was asked which role it would like to assign to the media. MEPs stressed that it was needed to find a formula that involved national, regional and local media more closely in communication policy, for which the use of alternative media as a communication channel should also be considered. The withdrawal of the proposal on the creation of an EU news agency was welcomed. They recommended that the Commission use clear and concise language when communicating with the citizens and the media. Using the EU jargon increased rather than closed the gap between institutions and citizens.
Parliament is against the Commission's proposals for the establishment of an Observatory for European Public Opinion in the short term and took the view that, before such a task is carried out, more coordinated use should be made of the data and resources already available.
The White Paper is one of the Commission's initiatives aimed at improving the EU's interaction with its citizens following the 'no' votes in referendums on the proposed EU constitution in France and the Netherlands