"EU hopes to win over public with songs" says Reuters, brought to us courtesy of The Scotsman, in response to which it is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry.
According to a document "seen by Reuters", the commission "is turning to cake-baking competitions and cross-border song and dance parties to win the hearts and minds of sceptical citizens."
In addition, a new logo, an EU theme tune, carnivals and concerts and a special "European Commissioner's Day" are ideas being proposed to mend the perception among many "Europeans" of an EU run by distant and elitist bureaucrats.
"We have big plans to make the EU more punter-friendly," one EU official is reported to have said. "The intention is to heighten people's awareness and make the EU fun. We intend to use the 50th anniversary of the Union in 2007 as the vehicle to drive the initiative."
This public relations onslaught begins this month with the launch of a competition to find a logo and slogan to mark the occasion. Experts will choose 10 logos, which will then be voted on by "citizens" across the EU from September.
The climax, we are told, will be an EU-wide song and dance party proposed by Belgium and in the same mould as the Eurovision Song Contest (our own A Non EU Mouse has his own take on this). One song will be picked to be played throughout the 25 member states of the EU, as well as future entrants Bulgaria and Romania, and accompanied by choreographed dancing. It will be live on television and big screens. "We want to show the EU can dance," the document said.
Reuters do suggest, though, that there is some concern at the cost of the events, with some newer and formerly communist member states in particular turned off by the idea of a song and dance party. "They feel people are being forced to dance and sing, like they were by the communists," says an EU diplomat.
In fact, there is something terribly "New Labour" about all this. Never mind that the EU is run by distant and elitist bureaucrats. They can't change that – and nor would they want to – so the plan is to go about changing the "perception". And, no doubt, the BBC will give the celebrations the maximum of publicity, and hang the cost.