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As we see them

Posted by Richard Friday, July 09, 2004

The Friends of Europe – a supposedly independent EU think-tank - has been concerned about the “communications gap” between the EU institutions and the “EU citizens”.

In an attempt to deal with the problem, earlier this year it commissioned Gallup Europe to undertake a detailed survey of the opinions of nearly 2000 "decision-makers" in EU member states. Amazingly, I was asked to take part in the survey.

The draft findings are now available and they cast the EU in an "unflattering light". In its executive summary, Gallup Europe reports that:

The European Commission is perceived as an unfriendly, bureaucratic body, distant from ordinary people, driven by complicated and unclear, sometimes even unreasonable procedures. The language of Brussels' elites is too complex, maybe mysterious, as it is seen to serve themselves rather than citizens. The bureaucratic short-hand expressions that speed up communication of complex issues and processes within and between EU institutions and organizations act as a barrier of communication when reaching a wider constituency.
Crucially, this was not an ordinary opinion poll. Over 90 percent of the respondents were people with direct experience of working on EU-related issues – within EU institutions, as officials in member states, in private sector business and in the media.

This rather knocks on the head the theory that the more people know about the institutions, they more likely they are to be in favour of them. This survey suggests exactly the opposite.

If you wish to read the full survey, it can be accessed though this link.