By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
EU spends £2bn each year on ‘vain PR exercises’
The European Union has been accused of spending £2 billion each year on ‘vain PR exercises’.
New research by Open Europe, a think-tank that supports EU reform, has found that so-called European “information” campaigns are one-sided and boast a budget that is bigger than Coca-Cola’s total worldwide advertising account.
One publication, entitled How the European Union works, described the EU as “a remarkable success story”.
Another English-language “information” pamphlet claimed the EU “is delivering a better life for everyone” and described the single market as “a winning formula.”
The researchers also found a European Commission document that admitted: “Neutral factual information is needed of course, but it is not enough on its own. Genuine communication by the EU cannot be reduced to the mere provision of information.”
Lorraine Mullally, director of Open Europe, said: “Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for vain PR exercises to make us love the EU. The EU needs urgent and radical reform, not expensive campaigns to improve its image.”
The research also found that projects, such as the EU’s School Milk Scheme, come with propaganda strings attached.
“The scheme requires schools to display a European school milk poster which must be ‘permanently situated at a clearly visible and readable place at the main entrance’ of the school,” finds the study.
“It even specifies that the poster must be ‘A3 or bigger, with letters 1cm or bigger’.”
Other campaigns target young people. One project in late 2008 was themed “From Shakespeare to Euro Rap”.
Events included: “Poetry Slam competition – Europe: I have a dream”.
Miss Mullally said: “People certainly need to know more about the EU, but the EU has proved unable and unwilling to provide neutral, factual information. This senseless spending on dubious PR projects has got to stop.”
EU and European Commission officials have stepped up “information” campaigns following a series of referendum rejections over the last three years.
Recent Brussels polling has also deeply alarmed Euro-MPs by finding that only that only two per cent of Britons are aware that European elections are taking place next year.
A pre-Christmas Eurobarometer opinion survey found that the already low levels of interest in next June’s elections were actually declining as the vote gets closer.
“The number of citizens who say they are likely to vote is less than it was six months ago,” found polling published last week.