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The role of information and communication in the governance of the European Union Ian Thomson College of Europe: Natolin 6 September 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "The role of information and communication in the governance of the European Union Ian Thomson College of Europe: Natolin 6 September 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 The role of information and communication in the governance of the European Union Ian Thomson College of Europe: Natolin 6 September 2008

2 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Public opinion and Europe: Elections, referendums and surveys

3 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Margot Wallström … warning to all European politicians. We must close the gap between the people and the policymakers. We need to start seeing the citizens as the centre of everything and and the institutions as moving around them, receiving and responding to their messages. …delivering on the key issues of the day: jobs for people - preserving peace in Europe - protecting the environment etc … is also an essential ingredient of ‘connecting’ citizens to political institutions.

4 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 John Palmer Frankly I do not believe there are any purely ‘professional’ or ‘technical’ solutions to the problems surrounding EU communications strategy. The fundamental reforms that are essential for any EU communications policy to succeed are essentially political. European citizens need to feel a far greater sense of ‘ownership’ of the European political process. Member States must accept shared responsibility with the EU institutions for both the content of the communications messages and the manner in which they are delivered.

5 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Structure of talk European governance: role of information and communication Current EU thinking on information and communication policy Interactive communication Openness and transparency in the EU European Transparency Initiative Access to documents Better, simpler and more accessible legislation Handout for further information on Intranet

6 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 European Governance: Role of information and communication Duty of the EU to inform, consult and involve (to listen) Right of the ‘citizen’ and ‘stakeholder’ to be informed, consulted and involved (to know) White Paper on European Governance 2001  Involve citizens and stakeholders – WHY? To gain legitimacy, support and understanding To create better law How to involve citizens and stakeholders - Better information and communication

7 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 EU Information & Communication Recent policy developments Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe, July 2005 Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate, October 2005 White Paper on a European Communication Policy, January 2006 Communication: Communicating Europe in Partnership, October 2007 Communication: Communicating about Europe via the Internet: Engaging the Citizen, December 2007 Communication: Debate Europe…,April 2008 Action Plan on Communicating Europe through Audio- Visual Media, April 2008

8 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Key messages Information needs to be ‘clear, objective, comprehensive, relevant and easy to find’ OECD : Citizens as partners, 2001 Decision makers must: ‘listen better, explain better and connect with citizens’ Listening – Communicating – Go local Use all forms of media

9 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Interactive communication Two way process: ‘Brussels’ both ‘disseminates’ and ‘receives’ information ‘Spontaneous’ and ‘structured’ consultation Your Voice in Europe: Consultation through Debates, Communications, Conferences, Hearings and ‘Chats’ Your Voice in EuropeDebates Participatory / Deliberative democracy - European Citizens’ Consultations (ECC) / Citizens Agora / Tomorrow’s Europe / European Estates General etcEuropean Citizens’ Consultations (ECC)Citizens Agora Tomorrow’s EuropeEuropean Estates General Communication with ‘stakeholders’ through ‘lobbying’ and regular contacts – Register of Interest RepresentativesRegister of Interest Representatives Publications and internet / EUTubeEUTube Information networks

10 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Openness and transparency in the EU Is the EU open and transparent ? Transparency is defined as the right of citizens to access information to enable their effective participation - and, in doing so, strengthen the European institutions Open government is good because it underpins the legitimacy and credibility of democracy as a form of government. Secondly, it can improve the quality of decisions taken.

11 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Openness and transparency in the EU The EU is open and transparent… O&T in Treaties Decision making : open and democratic EU information policy Press Corps / Lobbying BUT… Challenge of language: multilingual but resource limitations [policy on Europa]multilingualresource limitationspolicy on Europa ‘Culture of Secrecy’ [Committee of Independent Experts, 1999]Committee of Independent Experts Complexity of decision making  Decision making website Decision making website  How open is each EU Institution?  Europe ditches clarity and embraces obfuscation (FT, )

12 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 European Transparency Initiative Transparency of recipients of EU funds particularly agriculture and structural funds [Beneficiaries of grants] [CAP] [Revised Financial Regulations, December 2006] agriculturestructural fundsBeneficiaries of grantsCAPRevised Financial Regulations Transparency of interests in EU Institutions especially EP and Commission [2008 report] [EO on EP, July 2008]2008 reportEO on EP Transparency in the fight against fraud in the EU budget Transparency of interests of lobbyists  Lobbying has a role / Who do they lobby?  Are all lobbyists equal / Registration  2008: Register of Interest Representatives launched [COM (2008)323]Register of Interest RepresentativesCOM (2008)323

13 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Access to documents Why access to documents is considered important : accountability Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, May 2001 Green Paper Review of 1049/2001, April 2007 Green Paper New proposal, April 2008 [Statewatch Observatory] New proposalStatewatch Observatory Registers of documents  Commission – Parliament – Council – Comitology CommissionParliamentCouncilComitology

14 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Better, simpler and more accessible legislation Reduced legislative activity - ‘Better regulation’Better regulation Better quality legislation after consultation Impact assessments Better quality drafting - Explanatory memorandum Greater use of alternative legislative instruments Consolidation, codification and recasting Simplification Making Community law more accessible EUR-LEX, PRELEX, OEIL etc EUR-LEX

15 College of Europe - Natolin Library Information Seminar, 6 September 2008 Conclusions Political interest has focused attention and resources – which has led to useful specific initiatives, products and services But… Democratic openness v operational efficiency is a challenge Citizens are still not especially engaged (not unique to the EU)


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