Sunday, May 08, 2011

Death wish

Over the 2012 budget period, the EU is planning to spend £225 million on its publicity operation, including paying an "army of 1,000 spin doctors" to sell the EU to a hostile public. This is according to the Bruno Waterfield, who cannot be held responsible for the stupid Failygraph headline. One of these days, the babies might realise that "Europe" and the "EU" are not the same thing – but don't count on it.

Almost half the cost, £115million, will be spent on administration and the 1,078 staff who work in the commission's directorate general for communications. Another £84million is earmarked for "informing about European policy and better connecting with citizens" and £7million will used on events, including a "Year for Citizens 2013". Publicity promoting "Europe for citizens" will cost £25million.

The EU's publicity spend is now a serious amount of our money. By comparison, the giant conglomerate Unilever spends less than £4 million on its international promotional budget, and even domestically, the Asda spend is only in the order of £80 million. In terms, therefore, the EU is now getting major brand treatment. This now compares with our own government, which spends £180 million or so for advertising, £40 million on PR and a total close to £270 million.

However, there is no very great practical need for the EU to communicate with the people it claims are its "citizens". It is supposed to act through member states, which implement its laws and policies. Barring a basic information capability, therefore, this spend is entirely on propaganda – and that is very obviously the case.

Yet throughout the EU, people are hurting and they are going to be hurting more. The "project" was always at its most successful when it was near-invisible and to see a flood of propaganda from the "colleagues" is not going to go down well. They are really stupid if they think this is going to improve the EU image – either that or they have a death wish.