This is a part of comment published at EUobserver. A think tank based in Sweden is criticizing the way EU money is spent for propaganda, instead of informing people.
All this has nothing to do with “trying to reach out to citizens” and “inform them about EU policies” – which is what the EU claims its multi-million Communications Policy is about – and everything to do with trying to control its image and limit dissenting voices.
The EU has even talked about moving to control the EU’s image on the internet. Referring to the blogosphere, the commission has lamented the fact that: “Because of the many different sources of No campaigners on the internet, classic rebuttals are made impossible.”
The European Parliament’s Culture Committee subsequently voted for a report which proposed that the EU should regulate blogs – a proposal which was eventually watered down, but nonetheless indicates a very worrying trend.
All this is bad news for democracy. It is also an unacceptable use of public money – the use of taxpayer funds for government advertising is often strictly regulated at the national level, for instance in the UK, where “information” must be clearly distinguished from “advertising.”
Why does all of this matter? It is more relevant than ever as we move into the next campaign for the Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty.
Much scorn is poured on those groups which privately fund themselves to fight against the enormous EU propaganda machine and try to offer alternatives to “ever closer union.” But rarely does anybody question the EU’s huge Yes budget, which provides a continuous feed into the population and the media, not only at times of a referendum, but constantly and permanently.
With so much public money at their disposal, the EU institutions are able to propel their own vision of the future of Europe, and also begin to create a monopoly over what should be regarded as the “facts.” The institutions claim to want a wider debate on Europe, but by trying to suppress those who do not support their vision, they are stifling debate.
Next time you see a poster or a website championing EU integration – the idea that more and more decisions should be made at the European level – ask yourself: should I really be paying for this?