Friday 27 February 2015

Currently browsing 'Communications'

The EU’s communication strategy has been under the spotlight since the French and Dutch “No”s to the EU’s Constitutional Treaty. The new ‘Reform Treaty‘ in the offing and the European Parliament elections scheduled for Spring 2009 will be major political debates.

 

PR challenges in a changing EU

Posted by on 26/02/15
By Stavros Papagianneas “Accuracy, Authenticity and Interest” was the slogan of Ivy Lee, one of the founding fathers of public relations. Almost 100 years later, Europe faces challenges to meet these in their communication strategy.

Zijn er nog moedige politieke leiders in Europa?

Posted by on 22/02/15

De Roemeense dictator Nicolae Ceausescu verplichte zijn burgers om de winters in de vrieskou door te brengen. Hij sloot de fabrieken door de werking van de elektriciteitscentrales te onderbreken om zo de nationale schuld van 9 miljard dollar terug te kunnen betalen aan buitenlandse banken. Deze maatregelen bleken niet te werken en na de volksopstand van 1989 werd hij gefusilleerd . In landen van de eurozone zie ik zoiets brutaals niet gauw gebeuren. De Roemeense, en andere, geschiedenis toont ons echter dat politieke carrières en politieke stabiliteit grotendeels afhankelijk zijn van de economische resultaten.

De Griekse schuldencrisis die eind jaren 2000 losbarstte, begint meer en meer op een langdurige TV adaptie van Victos Hugo’s “Les Miserables” te lijken. Het was het gevolg van drie factoren. Ten eerste, een extreem clientelisme, ontwikkeld door de twee grote partijen die de laatste decennia afwisselend hebben geregeerd. Ten tweede, de overdreven leningsdrang van Athene in de periode 2000-2010 en de roekeloze leningen toegestaan vooral afkomstig van Franse en Duitse banken. Ten derde, de rigide en punitieve Europese aanpak van de crisis onder leiding van Berlijn.

Deze laatste factor heeft geleid tot de verschuiving van de oorspronkelijke Griekse schuld aan privé banken naar landen van de eurozone en dit rechtevenredig met de verschuldigde bedragen aan lokale banken. Het was de keuze van Europa om de schuld door te schuiven naar de Griekse bevolking. Met de sociale gevolgen is echter geen rekening gehouden.

De onmenselijke crisis heeft tot de verpaupering van de bevolking, protectionisme en extreme polarisatie geleid. De grote centrumpartijen zijn verdrongen door een golf van populisme en nationalisme. Een fenomeen dat niet alleen Griekenland eigen is. Het lijkt het er steeds meer op dat anti-EU partijen aan de winnende hand zijn in verschillende perifere landen. De kloof tussen een kern rond Duitsland en de periferie wordt steeds dieper.

De euro die dertien jaar geleden als een steunpilaar van de Europese eenmaking is geïntroduceerd, dreigt de ondergang van hetzelfde huis te worden. Het is een verstrakte munt dat teveel en tegelijkertijd verschillende economieën onder hetzelfde dak heeft gebracht. De ettelijke nationale economische culturen kunnen geen harmonische huwelijk leiden zonder een werkelijke eenmakingspolitiek die het hele Europese continent betrekt . De hegemonische rol van Duitsland in niet productief.

Moet Griekenland de geleende bedragen terugbetalen? Ja . Kan Athene dat doen zonder dat zowel locale als Europese politici door de burgers als nieuwe Ceausescus beschouwd worden? Neen.

Het laatste voorstel van de nieuwe Griekse regering i.v.m. het steunprogramma komt grotendeels tegemoet aan de eisen van de schuldeisers en geeft aan iedereen meer tijd om een leefbare oplossing te zoeken. De Griekse schuld is immers niet leefbaar, zelfs een economische agnosticus kan dat zien. Vandaag is 25% van de Griekse bevolking werkloos. Bij jongeren onder de 24 jaar is het zelfs 60%. Het BNP is met 25% gedaald en het aantal zelfmoorden is met 55% gestegen.

Hopelijk begrijpt Europa dat wat goed is voor de Grieken is ook goed voor de euro en omgekeerd. Een meer pragmatische en minder stroeve aanpak van de zaak door de protagonisten in het drama zal verlossend werken voor heel Europa. Athene heeft een open hand uitgestoken. Zijn er nog moedige politieke leiders in Europa die deze opportuniteit kunnen aangrijpen om verder te bouwen, of worden we allen geregeerd door boekhoudkundige software?

Press release: EU to unlock potential of obese citizens

Posted by on 09/02/15

In my work I am seeing several press statements on a daily basis, mainly from the European institutions and from ‘stakeholders’ like NGOs and lobby organisations. There seems to be a pattern in the language they are using in these press releases – language that is very typical for the EU Bubble.

So I am now publishing the following press release, that is available for immediate distribution.

EU can unlock the potential of obese citizens

Up to 5.34% GDP growth to be expected by 2020 if number of horizontally challenged subjects are reduced considerably

BRUSSELS – 9 February 2015

The European Commission is launching its fourth Action Plan on the reduction of obese citizens in the European Union. This Action Plan includes a revision of the current Directive on Obesity, Overweight and Weight Reduction Schemes (COP-2006-21580), as well as the introduction of a Working Group, a Launch Platform and a Citizens’ Dialogue Programme.

Obesity is a big problem for Europe’s society. Of the 500 million citizens, over 80 million are horizontally challenged. They are facing a difficult life with health and social problems, depression and sometimes even suicide. The Commission now wants to tackle this situation proactively and unleash the potential of these overweight citizens, as Europe is at crossroads. The current economic crisis and ongoing legitimacy debate of the European institutions requires innovative, out-of-the box thinking in order to make progress and raise awareness.

Independent research (paid for by the Commission including giving a list of pre-defined questions and suggestions for desired answers), reveals that if the average BMI of obese Europeans is reduced from 40 to 25, the effects on Europe’s economy and society can be dramatic. By 2020, an extra GDP growth of 5.34% can be expected, or over €5200 extra income per household. In total Europe’s economy could grow by €530 billion a year if we manage to shrink the weight of the population with 3 billion kilos of fat.

The most important effects, according to the independent research bureau FPEOIWB, are that slim people have a higher productivity per capita than horizontally challenged people. They also take up less space in public transport, do not block escalators, go less to the doctor and take less anti-depressants, thereby unburdening the national welfare state. Obese citizens tend to be less active in social life, and a higher participation rate in for instance political circles will lead to a speedier reform of national economies, thereby boosting competitiveness.

Konstantinas Konstantinapolous, the Commissioner for the Reduction of Obesity, European Food Programmes and Exercise Circuits, said: “With the ongoing European economic crisis and the increasing divisions in Europe’s society, we have the task to address the issue now, with an ambitious reform that will tap into the potential. I call upon the other institutions and the relevant stakeholders to quickly adopt our Package.”

“I do realise that reducing fat levels is a national competence of the Member States, but given the serious situation, there is a pressing need for European action in this matter. We urgently need to create a level playing field, exchange best practices and increase peer pressure.”

For more information, visit the European Commission’s website or follow the debate on Twitter #EUAgainstObesity

Reality is always better

If you think this is funny (and a bit tragic), wait until you read the Strategy on nutrition, overweight and obesity-related health issues that the Commission published in 2007. I actually stumbled upon this strategy as I googled “Obesity European Union”, after having written the fake press release.

I now realise I could have put more effort into the creative writing process. First line of the official strategy: “The Commission established a coherent and comprehensive Community Strategy to address the issues of overweight and obesity, by adopting the White Paper.” The Strategy includes policies that “are being marshalled towards the purpose of improving nutrition and preventing overweight and obesity.” This is necessary because action until now used to be “spontaneous and unilateral“, leading to a situation that “has often deprived other potential partners of participation and validation of opportunities.”

The Commission wanted “action-oriented partnerships across the EU, involving key stakeholders.” It also planned “to strengthen monitoring and reporting of the situation.” And yes, there was a true need for European policies in the fight against obesity. The Strategy “moreover underlines the central role of the Commission in facilitating partnerships and taking the lead in establishing a common framework for action.”

I conclude: Since the adoption of the White Paper, the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity has been set up. You can check the link for yourself; I won’t.

 

New tool for EU experts – EurActory: What is it for?

Posted by on 19/01/15

EU Community will launch the beta version of its first, free service EurActory on 29 January at the European Parliament. But first, we explain the idea one ‘frequently asked question’ at a time.


FAQ1 – What is EurActory for?

In an earlier post, I discussed EU Community’s first application in development: EurActory. EurActory is tailored to the people working on EU policy, whether they are in Brussels, in national capitals or work in organisations spread across Europe.

The service aims to gather the public information that is out there about the relevant experts and policy makers, to share this knowledge with this community and to allow members of this community to contribute their own expertise.

EurActory can tell you which experts to go to for input on a directive or policy you are working on. You can find the right person for a keynote speech at an event you’re organising. Or you can search for the latest updates on a contact you’re meeting in five minutes.

Want to know more? Tomorrow, we’ll let you know who has a profile on EurActory…

 

EU Community on Twitter * LinkedIn * Facebook


Are you suffering from Metric Myopia?

Posted by on 12/01/15
  Before you obsess over your next analytics report, read the recent article by Ev Williams (Twitter and Medium cofounder) on measuring what matters. William’s article was prompted by the infantile way otherwise supposedly intelligent people (venture capitalists, Wall St analysts, tech & business journalists…) measure the value of companies like Twitter and Instagram: we [...]

Modern Political Communication – or how to tell a story

Posted by on 09/01/15
Guest blogpost by By Adam Mouchtar We live in a world in which experts are constantly trying to tell us what is in and what is out: long texts, old media, etc. But people are more than keen to read long op-eds, if they are well written and transport a novel idea.

New Year Resolutions in 2015 & how to achieve some of them

Posted by on 08/01/15

When I decided to write this blog post, I was fully aware that this topic could seem rather trivial as after the holidays people are full of immediate desire to shed those extra kilos they put on during the weeks of celebrations; they also share same demotivators about joining the gym, getting a promotion/job, spending more time with family, finding love and sorting out their finances.

However, I think that New Year resolutions can be inspiring and motivating, if you actually believe that 2015 will become a more successful year and start working towards your goals, not putting them off until “next” Monday or the beginning of February or even spring.

Keeping in mind the importance of family time and staying fit, what if this year you focus on your professional achievements and take up a creative approach?

You always wanted to implement your brilliant idea on food recycling but never had the courage to team up with other experts or the knowledge on how to write a successful project proposal?

  • It is high time to accomplish your goal and learn all about funding instruments offered by the European Union. You can start by checking the homepages of the different funding programmes of the EU (e.g. Horizon 2020, COSME, Erasmus+) as well as our summaries of the 2014-2020 programmes in one place. And also consider signing up for Europa Media’s training courses on Proposal Development to be held in Brussels in February and April.

As a project manager, are you constantly stressed during the financial reporting period being confused about all those eligible and non-eligible costs and other technicalities of FP7 and Horizon 2020?

  • This year you can enrich your knowledge and become a true expert in financial management and reporting with our upcoming course on Project Management and Financial Reporting to be held in Vienna in February.

You have administrated many projects under different EU programmes, but still want to master your financial skills?

  • In 2015 you can set the goal of perfecting your financial management systems and reports as we will tell you everything about Horizon 2020 financial rules and EC audits during our Master of Finance and Administration courses to be held in Vienna as soon as January or later in March in Munich.

If your 2015 resolution is either to make an important career change (start managing the projects you conducted research about), learn a new skill (proposal writing) or find a team of experts to work with on common goals, our resolution at Europa Media is to help you achieve your goals by providing comprehensive information, consultancy and practical tips on EU research and innovation funding aspects.

Remember, 2015 is full of new opportunities and challenges, so be proactive and follow your dreams!

Hongrie : sévères critiques de la liberté des médias

Posted by on 29/12/14

Les médias sont soumis à un « cadre juridique inadapté et à des pressions politiques » en Hongrie qui connait également une poussée préoccupante du racisme et de l’intolérance, critique le rapport du Conseil de l’Europe rendu public le 16 décembre dernier.

La Hongrie devrait mieux garantir la liberté des média et la discrimination endémique , et améliorer la protection des droits de l’homme des migrants » a commenté le commissaire aux droits de l’homme du Conseil de l’Europe, Nils Muizniks.

Malgré des efforts de modération et d’objectivité, les commentaires du commissaire aux droits sont accablants et la presse européenne a exprimé sa forte inquiétude assez unanimement.La liberté de la presse et les droits des minorités restent menacés en Hongrie, malgré certains progrès, affirme le commissaire aux droits de l’homme du Conseil de l’Europe, dans le rapport.Nils Muinieks salue les initiatives du gouvernement de Viktor Orban pour amender la loi sur les médias ou mieux réprimer les discours de haine, en réponse aux critiques des institutions européennes, mais estime le bilan insuffisant. « Dans la pratique, la simple existence de certaines dispositions dans la législation hongroise a pour effet de paralyser la liberté de la presse », dit-il.Le commissaire pointe du doigt le niveau très élevé des sanctions qui peuvent être imposées aux médias – jusqu’à 650.000 euros d’amende ou une suspension – en cas d’infraction à la loi, par un organe de contrôle non judiciaire, le Conseil des médias.

Le fait que ses membres soient élus par le Parlement continue à poser problème, dans un pays où le Fidesz, le parti de droite au pouvoir depuis 2010, dispose des deux tiers des sièges à l’Assemblée nationale. Cette situation, « couplée avec ses pouvoirs étendus, fait que le Conseil des médias n’est pas perçu comme indépendant du pouvoir politique », affirme Nils Muinieks.

Les élections législatives d’avril dernier ont été marquées par une nouvelle victoire du Fidesz, confortant Viktor Orban, en dépit des critiques dont il faisait l’objet au niveau national et international, mais aussi par une percée du parti d’extrême droite Jobbik qui a obtenu 21% des voix.

C’est dans ce contexte, que le commissaire du Conseil de l’Europe se dit « préoccupé par la détérioration de la situation concernant le racisme et l’intolérance en Hongrie ». Si le sentiment anti-roms est « le plus répandu », l’antisémitisme reste présent « et s’exacerbe du fait de la crise économique ». Nils Muinieks évoque une initiative du Jobbik qui proposait, en 2012, d’établir d’une liste des membres du gouvernement ayant des racines juives tout en soulignant le caractère désormais très répandu des discours racistes. Le commissaire dénonce également la « discrimination » qui frappe les plus pauvres à travers une loi qui interdit l’occupation de l’espace public aux sans domicile fixe. »La rhétorique stigmatisant les Roms, les juifs, les migrants et d’autres groupes sociaux est employée par des leaders politique, y compris au sein des principales formations », regrette-t-il en invitant les autorités gouvernementales à être plus « vigilantes et proactives pour combattre tous les crimes et discours de haine ».

Malgré tout le pouvoir reste fortement contesté, notamment par la rue et plus particulièrement au moment de la loi sur la taxe Internet, loi qui a dû être retirée.

Pour en savoir plus :

     -. Rapport sur la visite en Hongrie https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2658043&SecMode=1&DocId=2218468&Usage=2

     -. Dossier Hongrie de Nea say http://www.eu-logos.org/eu-logos_nea-say.php?idr=4&idnl=3334&nea=152&lang=fra&arch=0&term=0

 

 


Classé dans:Droit à l'information, DROITS FONDAMENTAUX, Liberté d'expression, Liberté de pensée, d'expression, de religion

What was important in 2014?

Posted by on 16/12/14
From a European viewpoint… 2014 delivered on its promise of a full and exciting year at the European level: parliamentary elections in May, and the new Commission which took office this fall. This new beginning has come not only with new members in these institutions, but with a desire to increase the legitimacy and effectiveness [...]

Good media relations require a two-way relationship

Posted by on 16/12/14

In an article for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Whitehouse Associate Director Alex Singleton explains why spamming journalists with press releases doesn’t work.

To read Alex’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Terminologia del Parlamento europeo

Posted by on 14/12/14

Parlamento europeo 12/2014Mi capita per caso di passare a lavorare nella biblioteca del Parlamento europeo: un grande ambiente dal soffitto alto dove regna un perfetto silenzio, interrotto soltanto dai passi della gente, dal rumore meccanico delle stampanti e dai bibliotecari che sistemano i libri.

Guardandomi intorno in cerca di un computer libero, mi cade lo sguardo su una pubblicazione particolarmente interessante, Terminology for Parliamentary Work (ndr., Terminologia per il lavoro del Parlamento): un libretto con i termini più comuni usati nel Parlamento europeo e il loro significato.

Logicamente si tratta di un libro in Inglese, Francese e Tedesco, lasciando l’Italiano e le altre venti lingue ufficiali un po’ da parte, ma è comunque interessante darci un’occhiata. Per esempio, si vede che il corrispettivo di Bureau (Ufficio di presidenza) in Inglese è lo stesso che in Francese ed è altrettanto breve in Tedesco con la parola Präsidium. È invece decisamente più interessante vedere termini in Inglese come catch-the-eye (procedura catch-the-eye in Italiano) che in Francese è mains levées e in Tedesco è System des Augenkontakts bzw. der erhobenen Hand.

Il Tedesco tuttavia non è sempre una lingua prolissa. Per esempio, se si considera Verhaltenskodex (codice di condotta), si scopre che in Inglese è Code of Conduct for Members of the European Parliament with respect to financial interests and conflict of interest (ndr., viene anche usato Code of conduct a seconda delle occasioni) e in Francese è Code de conduite des députés au Parlement européen en matière d’intérêts financiers et de conflits (ndr., viene anche usato Code de conduite a seconda delle occasioni).

 

Per chi fosse interessato al testo, ecco il link dove scaricare il pdf: http://www.termcoord.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/23094-BROCHURE-A5-EN.pdf

Per chi fosse interessato al sito europeo IATE per la traduzione di termini nelle differenti lingue europee, l’indirizzo è: http://iate.europa.eu/SearchByQueryLoad.do?method=load

Reforming rules on in-work benefits doesn’t require treaty change

Posted by on 11/12/14
Following David Cameron's speech on immigration, much has been made of his comments that the package of measures he proposed to reform EU free movement would require treaty change.

In some cases, the speech was ambiguous about what exactly was being proposed. For example, did Cameron really say EU migrants will need a job offer before coming to the UK? This is important because it has legal implications regarding whether some, all, or none of the proposals require treaty change, changes to secondary EU legislation or simply changes to domestic law. Although, politics will of course also play a major part.

In addition, some have questioned whether the proposal, outlined by Professor Damian Chalmers and our Research Director Stephen Booth and adopted by Cameron, to limit EU migrants' access to in-work benefits for a certain period of years could be achieved without treaty change, as the authors claim.

Today we have published  Chalmers' and Booth's assessment of the legal implications of the measures proposed in the Prime Minister's speech and a restatement of the case for why access to in-work benefits can be restricted via amendments to EU legislation rather than a treaty change.

Safe to say much of this is legally complex, but below is a summary of a summary of a longer legal note by Professor Damian Chalmers, which you can read in full here.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

David Cameron's speech can be divided into four broad types of demand:

1. Four-year restriction on EU migrants’ access to in-work and child benefits

David Cameron mentioned two proposed reforms:

a) “once they are in work, they won’t get benefits or social housing from Britain unless they have been here for at least four years.”

This could be achieved via amendments to EU legislation: This is the most legally complex of the proposals but we argue that it does not require Treaty change for two reasons. Firstly, access to in-work benefits is currently granted in EU law by virtue of a piece of secondary legislation, rather than by the Treaty article on free movement of workers. Secondly, the Treaties grant considerable discretion to the EU legislature (the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament) to place restrictions on access to such benefits provided that the legislation facilitates free movement more generally (which the relevant Directive would continue to do), the restrictions are based on objective criteria and are not disproportionate to the objectives they pursue.

b) “If their child is living abroad, then there should be no child benefit or child tax credit at all no matter how long they have worked in the UK and no matter how much tax they have paid.”

Depending on what is sought this could be achieved under domestic law or amendments to EU legislation but if the objective is a hard and fast residence requirement this could be achieved via amendments to EU legislation rather than Treaty change.

2. Tighter restrictions on EU jobseekers

David Cameron mentioned two proposed reforms:

a) “We want EU jobseekers to have a job offer before they come here and to stop UK taxpayers having to support them if they don't.”

This depends on exactly what is proposed. If he meant that any EU citizen must have a job offer before they can come into the UK, this would certainly require Treaty change.

However, read in combination with the pledge to “stop UK taxpayers having to support them”, the proposal is better interpreted as suggesting that no social benefits will be granted to jobseekers. EU law already establishes that jobseekers are not entitled to social assistance and therefore such a reform would not require changes to EU legislation.

b) “We also want to restrict the time that jobseekers can legally stay in this country. So if an EU jobseeker has not found work within six months, they will be required to leave.”

In principle, the UK can already do this under its domestic law. EU law only grants a right of residence for more than three months to those who are employed, self-employed, and economically self-sufficient as well as their family members.

However, the ECJ has ruled that individuals cannot be expelled as long as they “can provide evidence that they are continuing to seek employment and that they have a genuine chance of being engaged”. While the onus is on the individual to prove this, clarifying what this condition means could be achieved by amending EU legislation. A hard and fast six month deadline would likely require Treaty change.

3. Abuse of free movement

David Cameron mentioned two proposed reforms:

a) “stronger powers to deport criminals and stop them coming back…and tougher and longer re-entry bans for all those who abuse free movement including beggars, rough sleepers, fraudsters and people who collude in sham marriages.”

Those deported at the time of conviction can be refused re-entry under existing EU law. Indeed, the German government has said it will use its domestic law to impose re-entry bans of five years for those who commit benefit fraud. The potential difficulty is for those EU citizens with family in the UK, who may be able to appeal deportation under the rights to family life guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the case of significant criminal offences where the individual has served a long prison term, the deportation may be several years after the offence, and it is open to the individual to argue that they are a reformed character. This poses difficulties as the individual threat to public policy must be a present threat. Albeit this requirement is currently imposed by an EU Directive, we believe that, if the provision were repealed, there is a strong chance that the ECJ would reinstate it as a Treaty requirement.

b) “We must also deal with the extraordinary situation where it's easier for an EU citizen to bring a non-EU spouse to Britain, than it is for a British citizen to do the same. At the moment, if a British citizen wants to bring, say, a South American partner to the UK, then we ask for proof that they meet an income threshold and can speak English. But EU law means we cannot apply these tests to EU migrants.”

This would likely require Treaty change: There are a number of judgments where the ECJ has stated that refusing to grant a non-EU national family member residence would violate the Treaty because it would discourage the EU citizen from exercising their rights to free movement.

Alternatively, it would be possible for new EU legislation to harmonise requirements on family reunification between EU citizens and non-EU nationals, so that the latter could only join the EU citizen in another member state if they meet certain requirements. However, this would entail harmonisation in an area (non-EU migration) where successive UK Governments have sought to limit the EU’s influence. Concern to prevent marriages to citizens from other member states being used as a vehicle for marriages of convenience can be addressed through tightening up existing EU legislation.

4. Tighter restrictions on migration from new EU member states

David Cameron proposed:

“So we will insist that when new countries are admitted to the EU in the future, free movement will not apply to those new members until their economies have converged much more closely with existing Member States.”

The UK could use its existing veto over new countries joining the EU to insist on these terms.




Wow. Has it come to this?

Posted by on 08/12/14
Is primetime TV advertising the right way to connect citizens to the EU? Last week I saw and commented on an interesting blog post by Iveta Kazoka exploring one of the ‘broken channels’ which are supposed to link interested citizens to EU decision-making: “The report uncovered an uncomfortable truth: few civic society organisations are capable of [...]

25.000 EU experts in each EU country

Posted by on 20/11/14
The EU is a complex game in which Brussels has a key role in close connection with the 28 capitals of the EU Member States. In previous messages I identified the 100.000 EU actors in Brussels, and now the “local EU actors”, those working in the Member States, will be mapped out. On the executive [...]

Message for the new European Commissioner for Education

Posted by on 31/10/14
The new European Commission takes office in November 2014. The new president Jean-Claude Junker said that it is his “desire that the EC will be very political in nature”. I wish good luck to the new team of Commissioners; the EU really needs politicians with vision and with experience in developing European dossiers for a [...]

Advertisement