Sunday, 29 August 2010

Eurobarometer controversy

The UK based anti-EU lobby group Open Europe managed, perhaps unintentionally, to stir up a debate at European level when they accused the European Commission of spinning the results of the Eurobarometer poll of public opinion in the European Union. After – as they might have seen it – beating the Commission to pulp, they finally reached what they saw as the main result: declining support for EU membership.

The EU Commission’s press release branded as dishonest by Open Europe can be found here (26 August 2010, IP/10/1071; available in 22 languages):



Spring 2010 Eurobarometer: EU citizens favour stronger European economic governance




All guns firing, Open Europe delivered its broadside from its blog, its daily press summary, its fortnightly bulletin and on Director Mats Persson’s blog.



In my humble view, Open Europe gave in to its urge to bash the Commission, while missing a golden opportunity to discuss growing European awareness of the need for economic reform at macro and micro level; that is, if Open Europe really is interested in these issues with the European public good at heart.



British exceptionalism



I had first discussed the political atmosphere and media climate in the United Kingdom, resulting in a high level of distrust and a low level of trust for the European Union, then pointed out how unique British public opinion is in its exceptionalism.



Spin or policy pointers?


My intention was to move on to the issue of declining support for the European Union, but then I felt that I had to take a closer look at Open Europe’s accusations and the European Commission’s “offending” press release.


Shorthand

My reading was that Open Europe seemed to have found particularly offensive that the headline of the press release and Commissioner Viviane Reding had used the words stronger or enhanced “economic governance” as shorthand for the 75 per cent EU-wide support for a “stronger coordination of economic and financial policies among all the EU Member States”, the highest support (26 per cent) among institutions - national and international - for ability to “take effective actions against the financial and economic crisis”, as well as high support for some sort of economic reform agenda (reducing public deficit and debt in respondent’s own country, surveillance of international financial groups, and for priorities of the EU 2020 reform strategy).


Challenges


Whether openly accounted for or not, the issues debated reflect fundamental assumptions about politics and policies at European level. Despite my tentative findings, the ongoing discussion and the detailed Eurobarometer results still merit a closer look.




Ralf Grahn



P.S. Comments relevant to the topic discussed in each Grahnlaw blog post are most welcome. However, the number of spam comments has skyrocketed. This is the sad reason for comment moderation, so it may take a while before your valued comment appears.

It is easier to understand a language than to use it correctly. As Eurobloggers we could and should promote interaction among Europeans across borders and between linguistic communities. Grahnlaw has adopted a multilingual comment policy:

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Antonia on the Euonym blog (Talking about the EU) tells us that the European Commission in the UK arranges a Day of Multilingual Blogging on 26 September 2010, and the UK Representation has been joined by the multilingual aggregator Bloggingportal.eu and individual Eurobloggers. Join the event page on Facebook, spread the word through social media and personal contacts, begin preparing your blog posts and start learning a new language.
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