Tag Archives: Communication

Better informed about Europe

Better informed about Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Better informed about Europe

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Better informed about Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication to the Commission of 20 July 2005, “Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe by the Commission” [SEC(2005) 985 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Communication is one of the main objectives of the Commission presided over by José Manuel Barroso. It is based on three main principles, namely:

  • listening: the citizen must not only be informed but must also be listened to;
  • communicating: citizens need to be informed in order to be able to participate in the democratic debate;
  • connecting with citizens by “going local”: good communication must meet the local needs of citizens.

This Action Plan represents the first phase of the process to improve communication. It will be followed by a White Paper for the creation of a genuine European Public Sphere. The Commission has begun by taking specific measures to modernise and professionalise all of its departments.

Involving the whole of the Commission in the communications strategy

The new communications strategy requires participation of the whole of the Commission. Commissioners need to devote more time to communicating, for example when travelling to Member States. Every member of staff at the Commission must be an ambassador for it, i.e. must be capable of informing the public or the press about the Commission’s policies. Internal communication and training in communication must therefore be developed, and communication professionals will need to be recruited for this purpose.

The Commission urges all the Directorates-General to draft their policies in clear, simple and precise terms. It also suggests that the most important proposals should be accompanied by a “layperson’s summary”, and where necessary by a communication plan. To help the public find their way more easily around Commission documents, presentation needs to be unified, for example through the use of slogans and symbols. The Commission also intends to simplify the identification of the authority represented in its contact centres and information relays. Finally, the Commission will widely publicise its consultation procedures, through the portal ” Your voice in Europe “, to give citizens easier access to the consultation process.

While all members of staff of the Commission are urged to become involved in the new communications strategy, certain players have a key role to play in its implementation. These include the:

  • Directorate-General for Press and Communication, now renamed DG Communication so as better to reflect the Commission’s new strategy: within DG Communication: a “planning and coordination” team will be responsible for preparing the communication agenda, based on contributions from all the other DGs and DG Communication’s own departments. This planning and coordination team will be responsible for ensuring the implementation of this Action Plan, which will involve defining communication plans oriented towards the general public, i.e. focusing on fewer subjects but approaching as many EU citizens as possible. In order to listen to citizens and find out what their expectations are, DG Communication will analyse the results of Eurobarometer surveys, media reporting, feedback from the Commission Representations in the Member States, from the contact points and the information relays, and from consultation processes. The results of all this research should enable messages to be better targeted. Finally, DG Communication will be responsible for evaluating the impact of the actions taken, i.e. determining whether they have been effective, cost-efficient and relevant;
  • Spokesperson’s Service, responsible for relations with the media: this Service will communicate the Commission’s political priorities to the media, as well as a story-led news agenda aimed at the general public. It will also rebut false information. Finally, the Commission has been asked to review press releases in order to reduce their number, improve their quality and adapt them to local audiences;
  • Commission Representations in the Member States: these have a key role to play in implementing the Action Plan at local level, since they can identify the target audiences, sound out their expectations and respond to these expectations in the audience’s own language. To increase the impact of the Commission Representations in the Member States, the Commission proposes promoting visits by Commissioners to the Member States, in particular to the regional and local media. Heads of Representation and press officers will be encouraged to act as spokespeople on behalf of the Commission and to refute false information. The Commission Representations will adapt their communication plan to the communication agenda. They will also develop their own activities in this field, adapting them to national needs. Finally, they will network with the Commission’s information relays to spread the message at local level.

Better use of existing communication tools

In order to inform EU citizens and stimulate their interest the Commission intends to improve the use of the communication tools preferred by the public, which include:

  • audiovisual services: the Commission will develop better networking of TV channels in Europe and of broadcasters, as well as the audiovisual news agency ” Europe by Satellite “;
  • internet: The EU website ” Europa ” is the largest public website in the world. The Commission considers it necessary to ensure that the best technologies are available, as well as the latest developments in the private sector, such as blogs. DG Communication will appoint an editor for Europa to structure and simplify the website. DG Communication will concentrate its intensified editorial efforts on a news site and on a number of general sites for young people and other key target audiences;
  • Commission publications: the Commission will continue to produce publications, but along the lines “less is better”;
  • citizens’ contact centres and information relays: the Commission will continue its support for citizens’ contact centres and information relays, notably through the Europe Direct free phone line. These information points provide a platform for non-specialised audiences to express their interests and receive information. The Commission proposes networking all of these information points;
  • visitor groups: the Commission will devote particular attention to journalists, national and local politicians, civil society and to young people;
  • cooperation with journalists: the Commission will step up cooperation with journalists through training for journalists on EU affairs and through accommodating more student journalists in the Commission’s programme of internships;
  • events: the organisation of events such as conferences, seminars or multilingual internet chats will play an important role in the Commission’s communication strategy.

The Commission realises that in order to implement all these measures substantial resources will need to be allocated, in terms of both budget and personnel. This is because all the DGs will be devoting more time to communication. In addition, the Commission Representations in the Member States will need to be reinforced considerably in order to achieve greater communication impact at local level.

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission; it does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.

 

White Paper on Communication

White Paper on Communication

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about White Paper on Communication

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

White Paper on Communication

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 1 February 2006, “White Paper on a European communication policy” [COM(2006) 35 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This White Paper has made it possible to launch a broad consultation to improve communication and enhance public debate in Europe. For six months, the Institutions, EU citizens and stakeholders had the opportunity to make their contributions to European communication policy.

The Commission identified five areas for action. Specific proposals, which the consultation was intended to address, were put forward for implementation in each area. The Commission also organised a series of “stakeholder forums” which gave specific interest groups the opportunity to state their opinions on these matters. Lastly, from spring 2006, it has been publishing Eurobarometer surveys.

Defining Common Principles

The European Union’s communication policy derives from several principles such as the right to information and freedom of expression, the inclusion of all citizens in public debate, diversity and participation.

To put these principles into action, the Commission is submitting the following measures for consultation:

  • Drawing up a European charter or code of conduct on communication: This document will gather together the common principles on communication and ask all the stakeholders to commit to them;
  • Launching a web-based citizens’ forum: This forum will allow citizens to be consulted on the content of the European charter or code of conduct on communication.

Empowering Citizens

Improving civic education and connecting citizens with each other and with the public institutions: if we are to involve citizens more, these are the goals we must achieve. The European Union can provide support for Member States with regard to civic education thanks to programmes such as Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates, Erasmus, Youth in action, or programmes in the field of information technologies.

In order to connect with citizens, both direct contact between citizens and the EU and indirect contact, such as Internet discussion forums, should be promoted. In fact, the Commission has designed a programme, Citizens for Europe, which enables EU citizens to meet and organise public debates on Europe. It also intends to take stock of existing schemes to exploit their full potential.

Lastly, to connect citizens with public institutions, European Institutions should first be made more accessible and more transparent. The European Parliament and the Council have made significant efforts in that direction. As for the Commission, it has established minimum standards for consultation, launched its own European Transparency Initiative, and intends to make a determined effort to promote multilingualism.

To keep in touch with citizens, the Commission is taking action in the following areas:

  • fostering the exchange of best practices with regard to civic education, developing of common educational tools, and lastly, getting European teachers who teach civic education into a network;
  • connecting all European libraries digitally;
  • setting up new meeting places for Europeans;
  • extending the programmes which enable citizens to visit the Institutions;
  • adding online forums to EU websites;
  • reviewing the minimum standards for consultation to ensure a more balanced representation of interest groups;
  • organising joint open debates during which the three main Institutions would take questions from the public.

Working with the media and new technologies

There is not enough media coverage of European issues. To improve this, the Commission would like to begin by making Europe more human. It is too often seen as faceless – it needs a clear public identity. Also, more account needs to be taken of the national, regional and local dimension. European issues should not only be addressed by specialised media – they should also be debated nationally and locally. The European Institutions should also put European policies in a local context. Lastly, the potential of new technologies needs to be exploited more fully. New technologies should not only be promoted, as they are one of the tools of cross-border democracy, they should also be made more widespread to grant everyone access.

In order to involve the media more effectively in communicating on Europe, the Commission proposes to:

  • devise a European communication policy that encourages the public authorities to work more with the media;
  • equip the EU Institutions with the best communication tools and capacities. To achieve this, Europe By Satellite should first be upgraded, but also a European programme for training in public communication should be set up to provide officials from European and national institutions with training in communication;
  • adapt the information provided to the media to the needs of the local populations;
  • draft a report on information technologies and democracy in Europe in order to better assess citizens’ access to the new communication tools.

Understanding European Public Opinion

In this area, the Commission has already successfully developed tools to analyse public opinion, such as Eurobarometer surveys, and independent social research on European issues. Furthermore, the methodology for Eurobarometer surveys is being reviewed.

Additional measures could be taken to gauge European opinion:

  • strengthening cooperation between the European Institutions to design and plan Eurobarometer surveys and disseminate the results;
  • accompanying every new Eurobarometer survey with public debates;
  • organising polls and surveys on EU communication from spring 2006;
  • setting up a network of national experts on public opinion surveys;
  • creating an independent observatory for European public opinion.

Working Together

Creating a European public sphere requires commitment from everyone involved: the Member States, the EU Institutions, local and regional authorities, political parties and, lastly, the civil society organisations. For the benefit of all of these, the Commission is putting forward a series of actions to enable them to participate more in communication about Europe:

  • increasing cooperation between the national and European levels: the vehicles of cooperation could be either financial or operational, such as making available the European information networks and relays. Meetings between national ministers and European Commissioners will be built up. Lastly, Member States could organise public and parliamentary discussions on the Commission’s annual strategic priorities;
  • increasing cooperation among national authorities dealing with public communication with a view to developing joint initiatives and sharing best practices;
  • communicating more about the EU’s role in the world: this is an effective way to involve the citizens of Europe themselves. To achieve it, more resources need to be allocated to diplomacy;
  • increasing cooperation between the EU Institutions with regard to informing citizens, for example by improving the organisation of the InterInstitutional Group on Information;
  • having the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions increase their efforts to organise regional and local discussion of European issues;
  • encouraging political parties to become more involved in European political issues;
  • encouraging civil society organisations to devise targeted cooperation projects in the field of public communication.

Organisation of the consultation

The consultation process on this White Paper is planned to last six months, from February until July 2006

At the end of this consultation, working groups comprising representatives of the Commission and of its partners have been set up for each of the areas for action identified. They have been asked to produce concrete proposals for action. The Commission has outlined a number of measures in this Communication to improve the way the EU informs and listens to the public. They are the result of the extensive White Paper consultation, launched in February 2006, which has since then prompted hundreds of responses.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 3 October 2007 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Communicating Europe in Partnership[COM(2007) 569 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Communication from the Commission of 13 October 2005to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – The Commission’s contribution to the period of reflection and beyond – Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate [COM(2005)494 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Communication to the Commission of 20 July 2005, “Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe by the Commission” [SEC(2005) 985 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission, it does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.

 

Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. “The Commission’s contribution to the period of reflection and beyond: Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate” [COM(2005) 494 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Commission’s Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate sets out a process aimed at encouraging wider debate on the future of the EU, between the EU institutions and citizens.

Objectives

A debate on the future of Europe should address the needs and expectations of citizens in order to maintain trust and involvement in representative democracy. Plan D is therefore about dialogue, debate and listening to citizens’ needs and expectations. It also seeks to encourage communication on the activities of the EU by addressing target audiences, (for example young people), and using mass media, like television and the internet, the latter as an interactive forum for political debate. A specific Eurobarometer survey on the future of Europe will be presented by the European Commission in order to learn from the concerns expressed by citizens.

Plan D should result in a new consensus on the European project and basically addresses two issues:

  • assisting national debates on the future of Europe;
  • presenting initiatives to strengthen dialogue, public debate and citizen participation.

Assisting national debates on the future of Europe

National debates should focus on examining and discussing the added value and benefits for citizens of concrete achievements and projects of the EU.

The European Commission emphasises its wish to assist Member States in the organisation of events aimed at raising the profile of citizen participation in these Europe-wide debates. Co-operation with other EU institutions and bodies as well as national, regional and local parliaments plays an important role in this respect.

Initiatives to strengthen dialogue, public debate and citizen’s participation

Plan D proposes 13 specific EU initiatives and actions in order to strengthen and stimulate dialogue, public debate and citizen’s participation. The European Commission is to play a significant role in these initiatives, in partnership with the other European institutions and bodies.

Specific EU actions include visits by commissioners to Member States and national parliaments, support for citizens’ projects, a drive for more openness over Council meetings, the creation of a network of “European Goodwill Ambassadors” to raise the profile of the European debate, as well as support for projects to increase voter participation.

Feedback process

A feedback process on the results of the national debates will take place in 2006 in order to let citizens’ participation have a direct impact on the political agenda of the EU. The feedback will take the form of a set of conclusions and an overall synthesis of the outcome of national debates, as well as the organisation of a European Conference on the future of Europe on 9 May 2006.

Background

After the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters in June 2005, the Heads of State and Government called for a “period of reflection” in order to enable Member States to initiate national debates on the future of Europe. Plan D seeks to facilitate this process of national debate by putting in place a framework for dialogue and debate.

Plan D will be implemented in combination with an Action Plan ( ), adopted by the Commission on 20 July 2005, to improve communication about the future of Europe.

Related Acts

Action Plan of 20 July 2005 to improve communicating Europe by the Commission [SEC(2005) 985 – Not published in the Official Journal].

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission, it does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.

Atypical acts

Atypical acts

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Atypical acts

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Atypical acts

INTRODUCTION

Atypical acts are acts adopted by the institutions of the European Union (EU). These acts are described as “atypical” because they are not part of the nomenclature of legal acts provided for by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Articles 288 to 292).

There is therefore a wide variety of atypical acts. Some are provided for by other provisions of the founding Treaties of the EU, while others have been developed by institutional practice.

Atypical acts are differentiated by their application, which is generally political. However, some may be binding, but this remains limited to the EU’s institutional framework.

Atypical acts provided for by the Treaties

The EU institutions’ Rules of Procedure are atypical acts. The founding Treaties provide that the EU institutions shall adopt their own Rules of Procedure.

The Rules of Procedure lay down the organisation, operation and internal rules of procedure of the EU institutions. They have binding effect only for the institution concerned.

The founding Treaties also provide for other types of act adopted in the context of political dialogue between the EU institutions. These acts are essentially intended to facilitate work and cooperation between the institutions. For example, in the context of the procedure for the adoption of international agreements, the Council must send negotiating guidelines to the Commission for the negotiation of the agreements.

The institutions may also go further by organising their cooperation by means of interinstitutional agreements. These types of agreement are also atypical acts. They may have binding effect, but only for the institutions which have signed the agreement.

Atypical acts not provided for by the Treaties

Each of the EU institutions has developed a series of instruments in the context of its own activity.

For example, the European Parliament expresses some of its political positions at international level by means of resolutions or declarations. Similarly, the Council regularly adopts conclusions, resolutions or guidelines following its meetings. These acts essentially express the institutions’ opinion on certain European or international issues. They have general application but do not have binding effect.

The Commission also adopts several atypical acts which are specific to it. These are communications, which generally present new policy programmes. The Commission also adopts green papers which are intended to launch public consultations on certain European issues. It uses these to gather the necessary information before drawing up a legislative proposal. Following the results of the green papers, the Commission sometimes adopts white papers setting out detailed proposals for European action.

Iceland – Information society and media

Iceland – Information society and media

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Iceland – Information society and media

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Iceland – Information society and media

acquis) and, more specifically, the priorities identified jointly by the Commission and the candidate countries in the analytical assessment (or ‘screening’) of the EU’s political and legislative acquis. Each year, the Commission reviews the progress made by candidates and evaluates the efforts required before their accession. This monitoring is the subject of annual reports presented to the Council and the European Parliament.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Report [COM(2011) 666 final – SEC(2011) 1202 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The 2011 Report provides a positive assessment of the application of the European Union (EU) rules, which is largely due to Iceland’s participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) and in European programmes.

EUROPEAN UNION ACQUIS (according to the Commission’s words)

The acquis includes specific rules relating to electronic communications, information society services, particularly e-commerce and services based on conditional access, and to audiovisual services. In the field of electronic communications, the acquis aims at removing the obstacles preventing the smooth running of the internal market of telecommunications services and networks, at encouraging competition and at protecting consumers’ interests, specifically by guaranteeing the universal availability of modern services.

In terms of audiovisual policy, the acquis requires legislative alignment with the Television without Frontiers Directive which creates the conditions for the free movement of television programmes in the European Union. The acquis intends to define a transparent, reliable and efficient regulatory framework for public and private broadcasting which meets European standards. It also estimates the capacity for participating in the Community programmes Media Plus and Media Training.

EVALUATION (according to the Commission’s words)

The country has already achieved a satisfactory level of alignment and has already applied a significant part of the EU acquis in the fields of information and media. However, the revised European framework for the regulation of communications still needs to be transposed. Similarly, several gaps need to be filled with regard to transposing the rules of audiovisual policy and information society policy.