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Margot is not a happy bunny

Posted by Helen Thursday, May 05, 2005

The fragrant Commissar has expressed her irritation, according to a story in the Times. It seems that the British government, afraid that it might be accused of condoning Euro-propaganda, wants to prevent citizens from finding out about the EU.

“We have an obligation to make sure that information and the chance to put questions is accessible to citizens.”
Well, no, since you ask, that obligation does not extend to her answering the many questions that went up on her blog since its inception. In fact, it no longer seems to extend to her posting anything on that blog but, perhaps, she has parted with all the information she ever possessed.

Actually, things are not as bad (or good) as the fragrant Commissar makes out. After all, anyone who does want to have information about the EU can look things up on the web and, even, ask the existing Commission offices. Normally, they are very free with all their material, and very interesting much of it is. (Well to a sad nerd like myself, they are interesting.)

Not satisfied with what they have, the Commission wants to open many more direct information centres across the EU. The British Government, through Sir John Grant, our man in the EU, has asked not to have any of them in Britain.
“The Government’s decision became public yesterday when the Commission unveiled plans for a network of 393 Europe Direct centres, costing €10 million (£6.8 million) a year, that will provide information on EU matters in each of the 25 member states except Britain.

The network will have 47 centres in Germany, 39 in France, 43 in Spain,39 in Italy and eight in Ireland. The €840,000 annual budget allocated for Britain will not be spent.

The centres, part of an EU campaign to fight growing Euroscepticism among European citizens, would have provided information to the British public about EU treaties, European policies and legislation, the workings of the European institutions and how to apply for grants.”
The idea that somehow businesses will not have enough information about grants is nonsense. All they have to do is ask their local councils.

No, clearly, the crucial part of this whole exercise is the need to counteract eurosceptic feelings across the EU. And the Government is correct in thinking that the presence of these direct information centres, which are about as likely to provide any information that is not completely positive as my cats are to ignore a saucer of milk, will be viewed as propaganda by a large proportion of the population.

Still, one cannot help wondering why there is a need for so many centres in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. They surely know all there is to know about grants and aid. And they surely do not need convincing out of their euroscepticism. Or do they?