THE European Parliament has been discussing how the EU's publicity effort might be improved. When the debate was over Luis Herrero Tejedor, a Spanish conservative MEP who chairs a committee on the subject, said that he had heard the same ideas and arguments for the last nine years; Absolutely nothing has changed, he said. There are people who think that the EU should not be spending money on publicity or information programmes at all. On the other hand, the general depth of ignorance about the EU and how it works must be a factor in the depressingly low turnout at EU elections, of which the next is in 2009. Those who complain loudest about the shortcomings of the EU are generally those who know the least about it. The fact is that the 27 member states have voluntarily joined an association which affects the lives of all their citizens who are therefore surely entitled to an objective information programme about what the EU is doing. But there's the rub. What one citizen of the EU might think objective, another will consider biased. In a perfect world the media would report comprehensively (and objectively!) on the EU and each member state would undertake an information programme in its own country. But none of this happens, so the EU Commission, which has this responsibility, takes on the task with inadequate funding. It's past time that this problem was tackled seriously by people with experience of this specialised field.
KNOW YOUR EU