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National University of Political Studies and Public Administration

Faculty of Communication and Public Relations


Master in EU Communication and Governance

DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF


EU COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGNS
Course Notes

Loredana Radu

Bucharest, 2014

DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF EU COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGNS


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Course Notes -

Contents
1.

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................... 3

2.

Communicating Europe Why does it Matter?.................................................................................... 3


2.1.

Pre-Crisis EU Communication...................................................................................................... 3

2.2. Case study: the promotion campaign for the Regional Operational Programme ............................... 4
3.

4.

5.

Public Communication and Public Communication Campaigns ........................................................ 13


3.1.

Public Communication................................................................................................................ 13

3.2.

Public Communication Campaigns ............................................................................................. 13

3.3.

Public Communication Campaigns for EU-funded Programmes and Projects........................... 14

Communicating Europe in the Context of the Crisis .......................................................................... 17


4.1.

Crisis in the EU a Brief Introspection ...................................................................................... 18

4.2.

Euro Crisis or the Crisis of the European Union? ....................................................................... 23

4.3.

Conclusions ................................................................................................................................. 26

What is at Stake: a Brief Incursion into the Meaning of the (European) Public Sphere ..................... 27
5.1.

EU Communication and the Public Sphere................................................................................. 28

5.2. Case Study: Mass Media Role in Broadcasting the Europes Single Voice during the Arab
Spring .................................................................................................................................................... 32
6.

Communicating Solidarity .................................................................................................................. 39

7.

Management of EU Communication campaigns: from idea towards results ..................................... 40

8.

References ........................................................................................................................................... 44

1. Introduction

EUs recent enlargements have raised the stake in building an efficient communication
strategy that would close the gap between EU and its citizens. Peoples confidence and support
for EUs policies will reinforce the idea of creating a modern, democratic, secure and
economically viable structure that would successfully face contemporary challenges. The
programmes and projects financed by the EU represent a way to achieve the above-mentioned
goal. These specific tools can be of a great help in promoting the European dimension and
increasing EUs visibility in the world. We shall focus next on the way in which the European
Commission and its representatives in member states act according to a well-established
communication policy principles to promote EUs initiatives and actions. We shall also look at
the goals of EUs communication policy as they are stated in the documents issued by the
Directorate General Communication. Moreover, we shall distinguish between the core concepts
of a public communication campaign and explain their role in ensuring the success of the
publicity for EU-funded programmes and projects in Romania.

2. Communicating Europe Why does it Matter?

2.1.

Pre-Crisis EU Communication

During the last years, EC and the DG Communication, in particular, have drawn attention
on the importance of identifying a set of principles on which the EUs communication policy to
rest. Some major events in the history of the EU have shown that there is a significant gap
between what Brussels considers to be a priority and how EU citizens feel about that. The
rejection of the EU Constitution in two of the founders of the Union, in summer 2005, has made
it clear that this gap must be bridged, and the DG Communication has been given the task to
propose ways in which the dialogue between the EC and the citizens need to be improved. At
that time, several documents have been issued in order to reinforce the communication inside
and outside the European Union. At the beginning of 2006, DG Communication released the
White Paper on a European Communication Policy, a collection of official documents
containing action plans towards the elimination of the communication failure between EC and
the citizens. The White Papers follow the direction launched in 2005, in a document called Plan
D Democracy, Dialogue, Debate. The White Papers have been submitted to public
consultation between February and September 2006. Given the observations and comments on
the White Papers, EC has reviewed and updated its policy proposal and has issued a document in
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which the principles of the EUs communication policy are stated. Communicating Europe in
Partnership (CEP) launched in October 2007 gathers the most recent assessed objectives of
EUs communication strategy. EUs communication policy rests on the major idea that the
debate on Europe has to be made available outside the institutional framework, to its
citizens(CEP: 3). This is also evidenced by the European Council, in June 2007, which
underlined the crucial significance of an efficient communication with the EU citizens, which to
encourage them to express their opinion on EUs actions and to ensure the diffusion of correct
information on EU. CEP clearly indicates the main directions which EUs communication policy
should be set up on:
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Coherent and integrated communication. This involves more consistent public


consultation on EC major decisions, promotion of the dialogue with the citizens and
consolidation of institutional transparency.
Involvement of EU citizens. This requires the building of specific structures and tools in
order to ensure the public participation in decision-making process.
European public sphere. Promotion of EU policies should engage public debates and
consultation concerning the common interest of EU and its citizens.

2.2. Case study: the promotion campaign for the Regional Operational Programme
The Regional Operational Programme General Framework

The Regional Operational Programme (ROP) is one of the post ascension EU-funding
programmes, which supports the development of Romania in various fields, such as
infrastructure, tourism, or business. The ROP global objective consists in supporting and
promoting a sustainable balanced economic and social development of the Romanian Regions,
giving priority to the lagging behind ones by improving business environment and infrastructure
conditions for economic growth (ROP, 2007: 97). This objective will be achieved through a
differentiated financial allocation by region, connected with their level of development and in
close coordination with the actions implemented by other Operational Programmes.
ROP budget for the 2007-2013 period totals 4,4 billion euros, 84% of which from the
European Commission and 16% from the Romania side. ROP offers no reimbursable funds for
projects that are related to: urban services (including public transport), roads infrastructure
(county level), hospital infrastructure, social services, tourism, and entrepreneurship. The eligible
beneficiaries for these funds are: public authorities (county or local councils, schools, hospitals,
NGOs, small and medium-sized enterprises, and academic bodies.
Financing is granted through dedicated call for offers that are organized for each specific
priority axis and operation. The ROP priority axes are:
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1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Support the urban development of the towns main urban growth centers
Improvement of the local and regional transport infrastructure
Improvement of the social infrastructure
Strengthening the local and regional business environment
Sustainable development and tourism promotion
Technical assistance
Except for the axis 6 Technical assistance, which is a horizontal priority since it
funds the specialty expertise necessary to implement the projects funded the other five axes ROP targets specific regional and local needs. These needs are at least theoretically
documented in the National Development Plan 2007 2013. Also, there are specific
beneficiaries types for each priority. Among the Operational Programmes (available for
Romania between 2007 and 2013), ROP is maybe the most specifically customized and tailored
actually, its priority axis are self-explanatory as far the eligible beneficiaries are concerned. For
example, it is clear that the potential beneficiaries of the priority axis 2 Improvement of the
local and regional transport infrastructure are public authorities that manage the local public
transport, while the priority axis 4 Support the local and regional business environment more
specifically addresses SMEs and the local business associations.
By addressing local and regional priorities, ROP is complementary to the Sectorial
Operational Programmes (SOP) that address specific action fields (e.g. Sectorial Operational
Programme for Human Resource Development, Sectorial Operational Programme for Economic
Competitiveness, Sectorial Operational Programme for Transport etc.). Technically, ROP focus
is on the local level it is more concerned with local specific development issues, while SOPs
have a more in-depth and specialized approach.
The ROP Awareness Campaign - Success or a Glorious Failure Only?
In order to make ROP popular among target groups, an awareness campaign was carried
out in 2007. It was a complex campaign, composed of a variety of communication tools
starting from the traditional press conferences and interviews and finishing with large
broadcasting campaigns (for TV and radio spots). It was quite an aggressive campaign composed
of several key elements:
- Dedicated web site
- Media relations (through press conferences, press releases, press informal meetings)
- Information leaflets
- Practical guidelines
- TV spot
- Radio spot
Apart from these rather visible elements, the campaign was also focused on creating and
promoting communication guidelines and visual identity rules. These rules became operational
through two documents: ROP Visual Identity Guidelines and ROP Communication
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Guidelines. At a first glance, the campaign created a certain level of visibility for ROP. In the
following chapters we are going to take a close look at the specific aspects of this campaign,
which seems to respect a rather commercial than an awareness approach.
Campaign Objective Wanted
Each communication campaign has to answer a simple, yet sometimes overwhelming
question Why do we communicate?. This basic question is usually ignored or taken as
implicit. Still, reality shows that campaigns managers are so commercial-oriented, that the first
idea that comes in their mind is Lets sell this product / service / brand. In EU communication
this commercial feeling is related to some booming principles, such as citizens empowerment
or European public sphere. What sometimes one stubbornly fails to understand is that these
booming principles are not associated to the promotion of a certain EU programme or project,
but to the European communication policy as a whole.
It is high time we underlined the difference among EU policy, EU-funded programme,
and a EU-funded project.A well-formulated project should derive from an appropriate balance
between the ECs development policy priorities and the partners development priorities. (EC,
2004: 8). Within the scope of these policy priorities, the executive arms of government or nongovernmental agencies formulate the broad areas of work required to implement policy
decisions. These broad areas of work are often called programmes, which, like projects, may
vary significantly in scope and scale. The definition of what a programme is depends essentially
on how the responsible authorities choose to define it. Following this terminology, ROP is a EUfunded programme, derived from the European regional development policy, and that funds
eligible projects.
A properly conceived and adequately resourced communication policy is an essential
element in the range of EU policies. It combines proximity to the citizens together with a reach
extending across the Union and beyond its current borders to the countries aspiring to become
members as well as to the rest of the world.
As we showed, there is a big difference between the European communication policy and
the EU communication campaigns. These differences mainly deal with communication approach,
campaign purpose and target, messages, and, finally, specific activities. Of course, the EU
Communication Policy (actually formalized in Communicating Europe in Partnership official
document) is supposed to form the basis, the red wire of all EU communication initiatives.
Still, the overall objective of the EU communication policy is to strengthen coherence and
synergies between the activities undertaken by the different EU institutions and by Member
States, in order to offer citizens better access and a better understanding of the impact of EU
policies at European, national and local level. This purpose is clear, which make us conclude that
EU communication policy sets the philosophical principles, while the specific EU-funded
communication campaigns translate these principles into real-life practices.
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Apart from differentiating between EU policies and practical activities that derive from
these policies, one has to take into account the specific aspects associated with promoting EUfunded programmes, on one side, and promoting EU-funded projects, on the other side. As we
have already mentioned, campaigns for EU-funded programmes must focus on informing their
potential beneficiaries, while campaigns for EU-funded projects look at persuading project
stakeholders on adopting a certain behavior.
The ROP communication campaign failed to underline the key purpose of a campaign
designed for a EU-funded programme, namely to inform potential beneficiaries. It became a
marketing, almost commercial tool, targeted at a wide audience. The answer to the question
Why do we communicate? is not clear at all. For example, the TV spot that was aggressively
broadcast on national and local TV stations, aimed at presenting an extremely general view on
the ROP goals. In itself, the idea of using a TV spot in order to promote a EU-funded programme
(that is characterized by technical and financial details, targeted according to the potential
beneficiaries types) is an odd one. The same applies to other communication tools, such as
information leaflets or practical guidelines.

Information, Awareness, Persuasion orSimply Commercial Marketing?

The campaign purpose is dependent upon the communication approach that one may
choose. As we argued, there is a significant difference among related communication concepts,
such as information, awareness, or persuasion. These concepts also stand for specific
communication approaches:
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information campaigns are meant to offer objective, verifiable information on some


matters of public relevance;
- awareness campaigns are more concerned with a specific questionable social aspect,
such as awareness raising activities for AIDS prevention;
- persuasion campaigns are more behavior-oriented, such as the campaigns that want to
orient peoples behavior to selective waste collection.
In general, communication campaigns for EU-funded programmes are more or less
information campaigns. They aim at offering objective and accurate information on the funding
schemes. Under an Operational Programme there are grouped several funding schemes (or
priority axes). These axes have specific funding and eligibility rules, specific beneficiaries and
schedules. One could not treat an Operational Programme as a whole. It is almost like
advertising for a field (such as History), and not for an identifiable item of the field (such as a
History Museum). By following this logic, creating an information campaign for an Operational
Programme is a non-sense. In the ROP case this was quite visible in the campaign message
Local Initiative. Regional Development. Technically, the ROP campaign brought up the
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concept of regional development and marketed it for the large public. As wired as it may
sound, regional development is not a matter of general concern. One could not expect that each
and every individual has a role in developing her or his town or region. Basically, the concept of
regional development addresses special interest groups, such as public administration, NGOs,
or business environment. This goes together with the general communication principle that an
issue really is an issue if it is put in a certain framework, thus expressing a concern for a specific
target group. From the communication point of view, there arent issues per se; regional
development is not an issue per se. We wonder how regional development could become a
concern for the average worker whose goal is to pay for his bank creditor for the student who
plans a summer trip with his friends?! Obviously, they are not the target group for the regional
development concept.
If we follow this logical path, a ROP advertising campaign is not the best approach to
follow. This approach is wrongly based on the idea that ROP is a commercial product or service,
thus the focus being put on the marketing side, and not on the information dimension. The main
goal of commercial marketing is

Who is the Public?

The very concept of public leads us to the idea of identification. The public of a
communication campaign must be identified by using quantitative and qualitative data. This is an
essential aspect that will eventually guide the elaboration of specific messages and
communication activities.
Who is the public in the ROP campaign? After analysing the promotion materials used
for this campaign (e.g. leaflets, posters, TV spot), we are able to underline that there is no
specific public, that there is no segmentation. Most of the promotion materials are targeted at the
general audience, which makes them useless for both interested parties (who do not get enough
information on the funding opportunities) and general public (who simply are not able to
understand how they are supposed to act). For example, the information leaflet gives a generic
overview on the ROP by simply stating the priority axes and the ROP institutional framework. In
addition, the TV spot invites everybody to get involved in local development initiatives.
As we stated, the concept of regional development is too wide and, thus, confusing, if
not put in a certain framework. In the ROP case, there is no communication framework. We
assume that one of the main reasons for this is the lack of the public identification and definition.
By definition, a financing scheme or programme has a pre-defined public. In the EU
terminology, these are the potential beneficiaries of the EU funds. As far as ROP is concerned,
the potential beneficiaries are specific for each priority axis and indicative operation. There are
several examples: for the priority axis 2 Improvement of the local and regional transport
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infrastructure only local public administration is eligible, for the priority axis 3 Strengthening
regional and local business environment (area of intervention 3.3. Supporting local/regional
entrepreneurial initiatives for micro-enterprises set up and Development) only SMEs are
eligible.
We only found three booklets that would comply with this segmentation principle. Each
of the three booklets apparently addresses the NGOs, the Universities, and, also, the local public
administration. Still, if we take a closer look to the booklet designed for Universities, for
example, we discover that it is not specifically targeted to the potential beneficiaries (in our case
Universities); in stead, the booklet describes all ROP priority axes and area of interventions
that offer funding opportunities for education development this in spite of the fact that some of
these areas of intervention are not available for universities, but for local public administration.
This fact is confusing, since there is a gap between the booklet title - ROP Funding
Opportunities for the Universities, and its content. We would have expected to find all specific
activities that may receive funding via universities.
This aspect leads us to the conclusion that the ROP communication campaign faces an even
more serious issue than public identification and segmentation. It mixed up some key concepts of
what the European Commission understands through stakeholders, beneficiaries, and target
groups. The European Commission considers stakeholders at the project concept stage; less
importance is granted to stakeholders as far as their actual involvement in project activities is
concerned. This is in spite of the fact that project team members are seen as project stakeholders. A
basic premise behind stakeholder analysis is that different groups have different concerns,
capacities and interests, and that these need to be explicitly understood and recognized in the
process of problem identification, objective setting and strategy selection (PCM Manual, 2004:
61). In EC approach, project stakeholders have at least four different meanings and usages:
programme beneficiaries and project beneficiaries. Basically, the programme beneficiaries are
those who benefit from EU funding schemes, while project beneficiaries are those who benefit from
the activities that will be implemented within the EU-financed projects. To turn back to the ROP
case, we assume that since ROP is a new financing programme, which comes with new rules and
concepts the campaign should have targeted the programme beneficiaries. Paradoxically, in this
specific case the programme beneficiaries are not the same as ROP beneficiaries. ROP is, in fact, an
umbrella that groups several programmes and areas of intervention. So, for the public
segmentation to be correctly carried out, there should have been implemented specific information
campaigns for each priority axis or area of interventions depending on their complexity. This
makes us stress again the idea that regional development is not a concept that would make sense
per se. It must be put in a certain framework; the main communication driver that would help
identifying this specific framework is public segmentation which is addressing programme
beneficiaries in our case.
The Formal Side ROP Communication and Visual Identity Rules
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The ROP campaign contained a strong formal component, focused on elaborating


specific communication and visual identity rules for ROP related campaigns. The specific
deliverables resulting from this dimension are the ROP Communication Guidelines and the
ROP Visual Identity Guidelines.
The ROP Communication Guidelines contains information related to:
The structure of the communication plan
The use of the communication tools: media relations, publications, information
centres, call centres, press events, online campaigns, advertising;
Management of the communication campaigns: budget, schedule, human resources,
evaluation, communication briefing.
As we passed through the information comprised in the ROP Communication
Guidelines, it became clear that it suffered from the same confusing approach as all the
awareness materials did. In the first place, it is not clear what are the purpose and target of this
document. For us it appeared as an internal document that would be very appropriate to support
the ROP communication campaign. It is very suitable for the ROP Management Authority, since
it seems to address a specific stipulation of EC Regulation 1083 (laying down general provisions
on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund
and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999): the managing authority for the operational
programme shall be responsible for publicity in accordance with the implementing rules of this
Regulation adopted by the Commission in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article
103(3) (Regulation 1083, 2006: 56). The ROP Communication Guidelines contains
information that may offer good foundations for the EU communication campaigns carried out
by the ROP Management Authorities. It is not the most suitable tool to equip programme
beneficiaries with the necessary tools and concepts to communicate on their ROP-funded
projects. That is why we find the ROP Communication Guidelines as being inappropriately
involved in the ROP communication campaign, a fact that gives us important hints regarding our
assumptions related to defining the campaign purpose and identifying the public.
The ROP Visual Identity Guidelines describes the visual rules that must be respected
by those implementing a ROP-funded communication campaign. It basically refers to visual
rules for developing:
Regio logos (including for each Romanian development region)
Usage of additional logos (European Union, Romanian Government, Structural
Funds)
Colours, backgrounds
Formatting
Compulsory information
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Publications: brochures, leaflets, posters, banners


Press releases and special layouts
Billboards and commemorative plaques
Web pages
These rules add up to the existing EU Visual Identity Guidelines, a document elaborated
by the EC Representation in Romania and that formally guides all EU-funded communication
campaigns. The European Union visual identity elements presented below are to be used by
implementing agencies/institutions, and beneficiaries/contractors/grantees, responsible for the
implementation of the EU financed programmes / projects. The Visual Identity Guidelines is part
of the Annex to the contracts for all EU-funded programmes. These guidelines have been drawn
up to present the elements that have to be used by EU beneficiaries in order to promote the visual
identity of the European Union, including graphic examples, the rules for using these elements,
and the circumstances under which exceptions to these rules are allowed.
The ROP Visual Identity Guidelines creates a different identity for the ROP, thus
overlapping with the EC identity rules that are already in place. We consider that this will be
even more confusing for the ROP beneficiaries, that will face two different types of EU identity
rules: the ones established by the EC Representation, on one hand, and the one formulated by the
ROP Management Authority, on the other hand. Of course, there are many similarities between
the two visual guidelines. Still, we think that the existence of two types of rules that technically
stipulate the same thing will generate many question marks among beneficiaries and contractors.
Also, launching a ROP visual identity rules by setting up new colours, new logos, and new
formats means overlapping ROP identity on the European Union image. Actually, ROP is
treated as a brand name which is not consistent with the fact public authorities from the
Member States are supposed to enhance the visibility of the European Union as a whole. Of
course, EU visibility is mainly enhanced through EU-funded programmes and projects. In our
view, this is not the same as creating brand names out of EU-funded programmes.
Brand is a sign of consistency (Ollins, 2006: 16). The visual identity guidelines
developed by the EC Representation are clearly directed towards assuring the consistency of EU
image. The ROP Visual Identity Guidelines seem to focus on ROP as a brand name; thus, we
identify a gap between the EU as a brand and ROP, which is indented to become a brand derived
from EU. The ROP campaign initiative to create a specific ROP identity is not based on the EU
communication policy. In terms of EU communication, ROP is only a tool for enhancing EU
visibility. That is why we consider that, by focusing on the brand awareness approach, the ROP
campaign made an exaggerated point on creating a communication entity that actually overlaps
with the EU image in Romania.
Conclusions and lessons learned

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We consider that the ROP communication campaign will most probably not attain its goal of
stimulating potential beneficiaries to submit good quality project proposals to be financed under
ROP areas of intervention. In brief, this opinion is supported by the following arguments:
The ROP communication campaign failed to underline the key purpose of a campaign
designed for a EU-funded programme, namely to inform potential beneficiaries on the
application rules and eligibility criteria. The answer to the question Why do we
communicate? is not clear at all. For example, the TV spot that was aggressively broadcast
on national and local TV stations, aimed at presenting an extremely general view on the ROP
goals. In itself, the idea of using a TV spot in order to promote a EU-funded programme (that
is characterized by technical and financial details, targeted according to the potential
beneficiaries types) is an odd one. The same applies to other communication tools, such as
information leaflets or practical guidelines.
The ROP communication approach was built on weak premises. In EU communication
terms, the core issue is not to increase the visibility of an Operational Programme (which is
composed of several funding schemes), but to address potential beneficiaries by underlining
their specific needs and funding interest. So, information campaigns tailored to each of the
ROP areas of intervention would have been a more effective approach.
ROP communication campaign has no specific public segmentation. The ROP campaign
brought up the concept of regional development and marketed it for the large public. Most
of the promotion materials are targeted at the general audience, which makes them useless
for both interested parties (who do not get enough information on the funding opportunities)
and general public (who are not able to understand how they are supposed to react to the
information avalanche).
The ROP Visual Identity Guidelines creates a ROP identity, thus overlapping with the EC
identity rules that are already in place. We consider that this will be even more confusing for
the ROP beneficiaries that will face two different types of EU identity rules: the ones
established by the EC Representation, on one hand, and the one formulated by the ROP
Management Authority, on the other hand.
The most efficient communication tools used to promote EUs policies and to contribute
to a better communication inside and outside the Union are the public communication campaigns
and public awareness campaigns. EU is strongly committed to ensure the success of its
communication campaigns in member states and therefore a huge amount of financial and human
resources are set apart for this purpose.

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3. Public Communication and Public Communication Campaigns

3.1.

Public Communication

Nowadays, public communication is considered a real engine of social change, a


consequence of the proliferation of crucial issues that affect the public and personal space of the
individual. Such issues concern, for example, environmental matters, public health, or anti-drugs
fight. Thus, public communication is a reaction to the incapacity of the legal system and of the
socio-cultural rules to impose and preserve a healthy way of life and a solid attitude toward the
environment. Pierre Chambat considers that the main goal of public communication is to act as a
mediator between the public space (the society) and the private space (the individual). The public
space is defined in a three-way manner: first sees the public space as a pace for social interaction,
the second focuses on the notion of public debate, and the third emphasizes on the idea of a
set of institutionalized scenes where a number of organized and politically oriented actions are
exposed, justified and decided (Paillard, 2002: 68). To use public communication tools in order
to submit a topic to general interest means to build a public communication campaign. Planning
and designing a public communication campaign is based on theoretically acknowledged
instruments that are adjusted to the specific goal of the campaign.
3.2.

Public Communication Campaigns

Communication campaigns, in general, are large, coordinated efforts oriented towards a


certain objective or a set of interrelated objectives, which ultimately lead to reach a long-term
goal (Newsom, VanSlyke & Kruckeberg, 2003: 571). Rice and Atkin (1989) define public
communiction campaigns as non-commercial ways to inform and persuade people to change
their behaviour by means of using communication instruments involving both the media and the
interpersonal relationships (Jeffers, 1997: 66). According to Newsom, VanSlyke & Kruckeberg
(2003) there are several types of public communication campaigns:
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Awareness campaigns, whose topics concern general public;


Information campaigns, targeted at segments of the population, that are specifically
concerned with the topic;
Public education campaigns, whose goals are to change public behaviour in certain area
of activity;
Campaigns to re-instill adherence to common socio-cultural values;
Campaigns to alter incumbent beliefs.

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As far as the factors contributing to the success or failure of a public communication


campaign are concerned, researchers have identified the following major items (Pratkanis &
Elliot Aronson, 2001):
a.
b.
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Success of the communication campaign


have a fun component;
avoid to directly attack incumbent beliefs of the target;
use persuasion techniques adjusted to the target.
Failure of the communication campaign
adoption of a moralizing tone;
use of complex messages;
insufficient funds;
lack of media support.

These are factors that should be given special attention in any public campaigned, regardless of
the goal for which it has been designed. There are, of course, many particular elements that come
into play with respect to the topic on which the campaign is built. This is why a successful
communication team working on the implementation of a public communication campaign will
gather not only professionals in the field of communication, but also experts in the field to which
the topic of the campaign belongs. This seems to be the case for the public communication
campaigns on the EU-funded programmes and projects which Romania benefits as a member
state.
3.3.

Public Communication Campaigns for EU-funded Programmes and Projects

The EU-funded programmes and projects represent one of the most debatable European
issues both at the global and local levels. The significant preoccupation with this topic is
justified, on one hand, by the enormous amount of money engaged in the implementation of
these funding opportunities. On the other hand, EU-funded programmes and projects are EUs
main means to promote European policies and enable development in every field. Helping each
member state to reach a higher stage of development contributes to the overall development of
the Union. EUs policies are exploited and communicated as goals of the programmes and
projects funded. There is no one-to-one mapping between one of EUs policies and one funded
programme or project, but there is no funding opportunity that does not address, in a specific
manner, one of EUs declared preoccupations.
Romanias accession to EU represents a milestone in the countrys attempt to attain
development in all fields. Although the country has not reached the desirable stage of
development yet, significant efforts are made at local, regional and national level in order to urge
this process. EU funding opportunities are a vital means for reaching development. The main
financial instruments Romania could benefit from are the Structural Funds, and therefore,
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beginning with 2007, top priority is given to these financial instruments. In order to successfully
access and spend European money, Romania needs highly specialized professionals who are well
informed about EU-funded programmes and projects, and about EUs initiatives in related fields.
The classification of EU funding opportunities in Romania have to closely follow the line
drown by the distinction between different policies. For example, some programmes have been
created to address the thematic policies of the EU, and others address the social and economic
cohesion policy. Regardless of the funding instrument to be promoted, public communication
campaigns should follow the same rules. However, it is essential that an important distinction
between public communication campaigns on EU policies and publicity for the European
programmes and projects is made. There is a significant difference between, on one hand, how
EU actions are communicated to the citizens of member states and, on the other hand, how EUfunded programmes and projects are publicized in the member states by the designated
authorities. Promoting EUs policies and EU-funded programmes and projects are two equally
important actions, yet they demand for different approaches when presented to the people, thus
publicly communicated. The different approaches need to separately account for the target public
and the goals of the type of public communication campaigns used to promote one or the other of
the two EU actions. Nevertheless, the communication campaigns for EUs policies and for EUs
funding opportunities have many things in common. The target of the public communication
campaigns designed and implemented by the Commission is the citizens of the member states,
and the ultimate goal of this communication tools is to gain the citizens support for the EUs
initiatives. Therefore, EUs communication policy has to be citizen-centered and peoples views
and opinions have to play a major role in planning, designing and implementing communication
campaigns. However, EU is mainly visible among member states through the special financial
assistance given to them (i.e EU-funded programmes and projects). Basically, the EU
programmes and projects, designed to help member states reach higher stages of development,
represent communication tools employed to promote the EUs policies. Nevertheless, the target
audience of the EU-funded programmes is not the citizens of a country. The publicity for the
Unions funding opportunities follows specific rules, despite the fact that it represents another
way of promoting EUs initiatives and policies. Therefore, we believe that the points where
communication campaigns for EUs policies and for EU-funded programmes and projects
diverge are extremely important, but yet neglected so far in such campaigns implemented in
Romania. Unfortunately, as we show later in this paper, the public communication campaign for
the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) is no exception. Why is so important to distinguish
between promotion of EUs policies and publicity for EU programmes? First, and most
significant, because there are two different types of public communication campaigns should be
implemented. In one case, for promoting EUs policies raising awareness of these policies
among citizens of a country therefore, an awareness campaign is needed, and in the other
case, some people (potential beneficiaries of the funds) need to be informed about the funding
opportunities for which they could apply as citizens of Romania an information campaign is
the optimal solution to that. Secondly, apart from the specific identified targets for each of the
15

two public communication campaigns, there are different institutions responsible for the
implementation of such campaigns. The implementation of post-accession funds in Romania, for
example, is supervised by special management units, and they should be primarily concerned
with the public communication of these funds, whereas promotion of EUs policies in Romania
is the main concern of the EC Representation in this country.
The history of the implementation of the EU pre-accession funds in Romania has shown
that the social and economic impact of these funds was very small. We assume that one of the
key issues that caused this apparently contradictory situation (potential beneficiaries
determination to access EU funds vs. EU-funded projects actual outcome) is the lack of
visibility of EU-funded programmes and projects, whose most significant consequences were:
lack of awareness of EU financing opportunities (projects and programmes);
ineffective public communication for EU-funded programmes and projects;
lack of actual outcome of EU-funded programmes and projects.
Bearing this in mind, it is advisable that stakeholders involved in the implementation of postaccession funds in Romania pay attention to the weak points of past relevant experience. One
way to overcome the inconveniences of an incorrect public understanding of the philosophy of
EU-funded programmes and projects is for the Romanian authorities to closely work with EUs
representatives. Nevertheless, at a practical level, it is essential that the Romanian units for
management of the post-accession programmes understand that they must inform a certain
segment of the population about the existence and usefulness of such funding. Well demonstrate
that, judging from the public communication campaign designed for the ROP, no such
segmentation of the target has been made. Public information campaigns for EU funds should be
targeted at segments of the population that are specifically concerned with the topic. Public
information campaigns do not aim at presenting a topic to all citizens of a country, for example.
They are conducted to hit a specific audience and to produce maximum of effects.
Awareness campaigns, respectively, aim at producing effects and impacting upon a larger
audience that need not be strictly segmented. The topic addressed by an awareness campaign is
usually a general one, which is of a certain interest for everybody, every member of a community
or for every citizen of a country. Promotion of EUs policies should raise awareness among
member states, and every citizen should be given the opportunity to actively respond to the
decisions taken in Brussels. The goal of EUs communication policy is to ensure such public
participation to the decision-making process and to promote the dialogue and partnership
between the institutions and the people. According to Communicating Europe in Partnership
more than eight out of every ten Europeans feel that it is important to be informed about
European issues. EU citizens feel that is important to know about the decisions that affect their
lives and to be given the chance to react to those decisions.
However, there is a significant difference between being aware of the EUs policies and
having the possibility to express your opinion on that, and being informed about the EU funding
16

opportunities and taking an action in this respect. Not everybody can be a beneficiary of the
financial assistance of the EU, whereas, in principle, anybody can have an opinion and express it
concerning the EUs policies, as they are submitted to public debate. This is why the target of the
awareness campaigns for the promotions of the EUs policies may include the target of the
information campaigns for the EU funds, but the vice-versa is not valid. Although we have
emphasized mainly here the importance of the target and, therefore, the choice of the relevant
type of public communication campaign, this is not the sole weakness of the publicity of the
ROP. Other significant aspects will be identified and explained in the analysis of the public
communication for this funding tool we have carried out.

4. Communicating Europe in the Context of the Crisis

The economic crisis began in the summer of 2007, being considered as an event with no
precedent in the economic history after the Second World War. What makes this crisis very
special is mainly its global character. We live in a networked world, thus we face a networked
crisis. Even the Great Depression of 29 is eclipsed by the crisis of 2008. L. Wong put it
simple: the difference with 1929 is that the world is far more interdependent and the scale of the
crisis is potentially far bigger (2009, p. 58). As it has created a more integrated and
interdependent world, economic globalization has outpaced political globalization in terms of
the change of mindset. (Stiglitz, 2008, p. 177). In a nutshell, this meant that the global
institutional set was not prepared for facing the challenges of a global economic system.
Another underlining characteristic of the crisis of 2008 is the analysts focus on the ethical
side of this story. A veritable crisis philosophy, built around the crisis, gave birth to ethical and
even religious explanations for the global economic warming. J.E. Stiglitz (2010) speaks about
the the avarice triumph over prudence, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission points out to
the systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics (2011, p. xxii), whereas Hudson and
Maioli state that we need to recover that common sense and morality we pushed aside (2010,
p. 56).
An anatomy of the crisis demands a more exact approach, focused on events. As the crisis
bears a made in USA label, the history of the crisis leads us in the United States of America. In
the April 2007 edition of the Global Financial Stability Report, the economists at the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) pointed out that the American credit risk was highly
concentrated among subprime borrowersi.e., those borrowers with impaired or limited credit
historieswhich in 2006 accounted for over 14% of the residential mortgage-related securities
market (IMF, 2007). According to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Survey, the
subprime mortgage delinquencies increased sharply right before the crisis, from approx. 5% in
2005 to over 30% in 2007.

17

Tightened credit rules and conditions was a double-edged measure. The most obvious and
intended effect was to prevent the apparition of new mortgage-related delinquencies. The
unintended and far-reaching effect was the impossibility of many subprime borrowers to pay
back their credits. The impossibility of payment brought an injection of executable mortgages on
the American market, which caused the collapse of the real estate prices. The first victims of the
economic turmoil were several small to medium financial services companies, which went
bankrupt at the end of 2006. In 2007 and 2008, several famous big financial corporations, such
as Citibank, HBSC, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, faced serious problems.
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize laureate in 2008, succeeds in elaborating a comprehensive and
more balanced, I dare say, analysis of the American crisis. To understand what happened, you
have to begin by asking what the financial sector is supposed to do. Its very simple: it is
supposed to allocate capital and manage risk, both with low transaction costs. If I were to grade
our (the US) financial system, I would have to give it an F. (Stiglitz, 2010, p. 322). Stiglitz
peels back the onion and concludes that the American crisis has been unfolding in front of our
own eyes during the last decade. In his own words, the only surprise about the economic crisis
of 2008 was that it came as a surprise to so many (Stiglitz, 2010, p. 53). The first signal, Stiglitz
believes, was the American invasion in Iraq, which determined a fast increase in the price of the
oil barrel from only $34 in March 2003 to $137 in July 2008 (Stiglitz, 2010).
However, drawing an accurate and complete picture of the crisis is far beyond the scope of
this paper. Rather, my focus is on discussing several key aspects, which would support me in
building an honest understanding of the crisis. My ultimate goal is to establish whether there is
any correlation between the Europeans opinions and trust, on the one hand, and the political
evolutions taking place within the broader context of the euro crisis, on the other hand.

4.1.

Crisis in the EU a Brief Introspection


Global Contagion

The American twilight soon caused the global sundown. A legitimate question is related to
the very short time span between the American crisis and the global crisis. How was it possible
for the crisis to become global in only half a year? For many specialists globalization in itself is
not a complete answer to this question.
In mid-2007, the IMF mentioned that it is unlikely that the American problems would affect
other economies. One may assume that this reassuring approach of key international financial
institutions was due to a lack of accurate estimation of how several existing vulnerabilities would
combine and create a high market risk. The unexpected degree of global contagion started to be
signaled at the end of 2007, when both IMF and European Central Bank (ECB) increased their
market risk expectations.
18

The American credit freeze was, probably, the most visible mechanism which led to the
globalization of the crisis of 2008. The credit freeze had a devastating impact not only on the
American economy, but also on other national economies that depended upon the purchasing
power of the American consumers.
Several specialists under the umbrella of United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD, 2009, pp. 4-9) identify several rather subtle macroeconomic issues that
facilitated the worldwide impact of the American economic issues. One channel of contagion
was the global imbalances, an over debated subject in dedicated literature. In a nutshell, global
imbalances meant that there was excess saving from the surplus country, and excess saving lead
to low interest rates, and low interest rates can feed bubbles. (Stiglitz, 2010, p. 325). After the
end of the global system of Bretton Woods, it has become possible to identify an Anglo-Saxon
part of the global economy, on the one hand, and a Euro-Japanese component, on the other.
One key characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon economy was given by its rather liberal and laissezfaire character. The complete trust in the invisible hand was successful in stimulating growth
and job creations, and, more important, in creating a consumption boom that was not funded
from real domestic income. As regards the Euro-Japanese economies, growth remained rather
sluggish, which meant that people were encouraged to make savings. The result was that, for
example, at the end of 2010, the average household savings rate in countries belonging to the
Euro-Japanese block (e.g. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland) was
of 11,1%, whereas in USA and UK was of only 3,3% (OECD Economic Outlook No. 85, 2010).
This is not only plain statistics, but also an important indicator of how people in the two different
types of economies perceived and approached their own future.
The savings glut, which is another critical point of discussions about the global crisis, goes
hand in hand with the global imbalances problem. Many countries from the Euro-Japanese side
started to accumulate billions of dollars as a measure for securing themselves against the
international risks (UNCTAD, 2009). However, these savings gave birth to what Joseph Stiglitz
calls the paradox of thrift (2010, p. 326), this meaning that an increase in savings may actually
lead to a weaker economy. The capital is not released in the economy and it is simply kept in the
governmental safe. By not fueling the economy with liquidities, these economies contributed
implicitly to the aggravation of the crisis.
The institutional contagion also had a big stake, as emerging economies tried to replicate the
success stories of Anglo-Saxon corporations by simply replicating their business model. For
example, countries whose institutional environment historically encouraged savings saw a
cultural shift and a move towards acceptance of debt and a softening of regulation.(Hudson &
Maioli, 2010, p. 60)
As regards the EU, the first reaction in relation to the American crisis was to simply decouple
from the unappealing turmoil. This was hardly possible from various reasons, already described.
In the first place, the belt-tightening exercise done by countries in the continental Europe (i.e.
Germany and France) resulted in slow or no wage growth, which determined a decline in the
consumption trends. In the second place, it is estimated that one fourth of the American toxic
19

mortgages went abroad (Stiglitz, 2010). In this way, the US succeeded in exporting its own crisis
to Asia and mostly in Europe. In the third place, the institutional contagion transformed many
financial organizations in Europe, and made them rely on high debt and leveraging. Last but not
least, the US exported their deregulatory philosophy and made European institutions believe in
the emblematic invisible hand of free markets. Furthermore, A. Brgoanu points out to the
fact that the EU did not have an easy position before the crisis, taking into account the fact that
the main international actors had better economic growth rhythms: China registered 8 to 10%,
the USA had 3.5%, whereas the EU had only a 2% growth. (Brgoanu, 2011, p. 13)
The Architecture of the European Monetary Union
Exploring the architecture of the European financial and economic system is a prerequisite
for a correct understanding of the euro crisis. The European Monetary System was created in
1979, with the ECU at its centre. The Single European Act, entered into force in 1987, was an
important step for economic and monetary union, as it introduced the Single Market as a further
objective of the Community. The Single Market was clearly subject to great expectations on
behalf of European government, since it was supposed to link the national economies much more
closely together and increase significantly the degree of economic integration within the
Community. The Maastricht Treaty (1993) set the legal basis for the single monetary policy.
The Eurosystem is made up of the ECB and the National Central Banks (NCB) of the EU
Member States whose currency is the euro, whereas the European System of Central Banks
comprises the ECB and the NCB of all EU Member States.
Since the introduction of the euro in 1999 in 11 EU Member States, the euro area has
undergone five rounds of enlargement that have brought the number of euro area countries to 17
(in 2011). There are currently 10 EU Member States whose currency is not the euro (i.e.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden,
and the United Kingdom). Denmark and the United Kingdom have a special status (based on an
opt-out clause); the other eight countries are prospective candidates for adoption of the euro
(i.e. Member States with derogation).
The euro area is characterized by a combination of centralized monetary policy-making and
largely decentralized, albeit closely coordinated, fiscal policy-making. (ECB, 2011, p. 15). In
this regard, the EUs system of economic governance is unique it benefits from fiscal
sovereignty that is the power to levy taxes remains fully in national hands (Gros, 2009, p. 53)
The ECB leads the Eurosystem and the centralized monetary policy, being independent from
political influence. The ECBs financial arrangements are kept separate from the financial
interests of the EU: the ECB has its own budget, and its capital is subscribed and paid up by the
national central banks from the euro area.
In order to address the financial crisis, the following mechanisms were created by the
Eurosystem in 2010 (ECB, 2011): the European Financial Stabilization Mechanism (EFSM),
operational since May 2010, and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), operational
20

since August 2010. Both EFSM and EFSF can offer emergency loans to a Member State, if the
benefiting state accepts a detailed and demanding set of policy conditions.On 1 January 2011 a
new financial supervisory architecture became operational in the EU. It includes three new
European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) for banking, insurance and securities markets and the
European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), an independent EU body, responsible for monitoring the
financial system within the EU. In March 2011 the EU Council decided to establish a permanent
crisis management framework, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
The Anatomy of the Euro Crisis
Although the crisis originated in the United States, European banks were deeply affected by
it because they had also done extensive financial investments in that country. Impressed by the
success of American financial services, large European banks had aggressively expanded in the
USA. This rapid expansion was also due to the Financial Services Action Plan, an ambitious
program launched by the EC after the introduction of the euro in 1999, strongly influenced by
the American model, giving priority to promoting market-based forms of finance, and
encouraging financial institutions to become more competitive (Evans, 2011, p. 98).
The institutional contagion was triggered by the American banking dream of making huge
profits by using a rather small amount of real capital. Betting on subpriming and high leveraging
was not a winning strategy in the long run, as I have already mentioned. According to estimates
done by the IMF, the total losses incurred by euro area banks between 2007 and 2010 amounted
to $630 billion, which places them rather close to the figure for American banks of $878 billion
(IMF, 2010). Similar to the bail-out strategy put in place by the Federal Reserve in the US,
European governments provided guarantees for bank lending in their attempt to equilibrate the
financial market. The total commitment done by euro area governments accounted for 28% of
the areas gross domestic product (GDP), which is comparable to the total commitment done by
the Federal Reserve of 26% of the American GDP (IMF, 2010). These are only a few of the
striking numbers that can make us create a rather realistic picture of the crisis in Europe.
D. Dianu identifies the roots of the strain in the EU (2011, pp. 5-23). A flawed financial
intermediation system is one root of the problems. More specifically, this refers to mistakes in
macroeconomic policy, the same errors (e.g. lack of regulation, excessive securitization,
inadequate risk-assessments models) that contributed to the emergence of the American crisis.
Another root is related to the premises of the EMU, which are those of a single market, but
lacking a coherent risk management policy. The EMU has never solved several issues related to
the distribution of responsibilities between home and host country. In addition, the EMU was not
built on detailed burden-sharing arrangements in the event of a crisis. The third root is the failure
of the Europe 2020 strategy to combine centralized decision making with national or regional
initiatives in economic policy making. And, last but not least, EU has always suffered from a
lack of integration and harmonization among Member States, this meaning that conflicting

21

views and interests among EU member states reduce its internal cohesion and harm its power
projection externally (Dianu, 2011, p. 14).
The recession in the euro area officially ended in mid-2009, even though the social strain was
still to come. In the second half of the year output finally began to rise again and growth
strengthened in the first half of 2010. Nevertheless, output remained below the level it had
reached prior to the onset of the crisis, while the unemployment rate did edge downwards in
some countries, most notably in Germany. The first austerity measures were implemented by
Ireland in December 2009, which included reducing civil servants pay, cutting welfare
payments and child benefits (Financial Times, 2009). Other Member States (e.g. Spain, Portugal,
Romania, Bulgaria, Poland) soon embarked in the austerity train. These measures were subject to
controversies, as they reduced the purchase power and, implicitly, the economic output in several
countries. Furthermore, the austerity measures were too much about cutting salaries and they
simply eluded the necessity for several specific indicators that would make the measures more
equitable and certainly more bearable.
The Greek crisis was by far the gravest challenge that the single currency has faced since its
creation, in 1999. In May 2010, the EC together with the IMF granted Greece with a 110 billion
EUR loan. This is the most expensive country bail-out in the history of the EU. However,
taxpayers in Germany and elsewhere were understandably riled with this decision. According to
Eichengreene (2011), three factors compelled the opponents of the rescue fund to back down:
EU solidarity, fear of unknown, and the estimated impact of the Greek crisis on the European
banking system. Clearly, bailing-out Greece was a matter of financial calculations, but, also, a
proof the Europeans officials concern to preserve a certain level of political and economic
integration.
Another country hit very hard by the crisis was Ireland, which had to cope with the failure of
its oversized banking system. As compared to Greece, Ireland was not a direct beneficiary of the
Commissions emergency funds. By middle 2011, the Irish government succeeded in funding its
own skyrocketing deficit. In 2011, the Irish banks started to support their operations with support
from the ECB, who repeatedly lent money to the Irish banking sector. In this way, Ireland
succeeded in preserving its economic status quo.
Both the Greek and the Irish cases point out to a weakness of the EMU the economic and
monetary union can not be feasible in the absence of the fiscal union. When the institutional
framework for the EMU was constructed during the 1990s this question was discussed under the
heading: Can a monetary union without a political union be stable?. Many analysts and
economists remained rather skeptical at that time. One side implication of this strategic decision
was that it became impossible to unify banking supervision in the common currency area.
(Gros, 2009, p. 106).
For A. Brgoanu, the technical explanations built around the euro crisis are not enough to
explain the breadth of Europes political strain. Far from being a bureaucratic and technocrat
crisis, the euro crisis reveals structural imbalances in the Euro zone, as well as the fact that the

22

euro has been created as a single currency for economies which are much too diverse[]
(Brgoanu, 2011, p. 22).

4.2.

Euro Crisis or the Crisis of the European Union?

Surprisingly enough, the literature review that I carried out did not produce many results
referring to the causal relationship between the economic fallout and citizens degrading trust in
the economic conditions and financial institutions worldwide. In general, declining trust is only
regarded as a consequence of the crisis. My underlining assumption is that the lack of trust could
also be regarded an underlining cause or an aggravating factor of the actual crisis. As John
Maynard Keynes put it, at crisis time, the trust is the most difficult thing to be rehabilitated.
The debate on the economic governance of the EU is one side of the story. The Euro crisis
triggered vivid debates around several important themes related to European integration,
European identity, and European cohesion. Clearly, Europeans trust in the European project
seems to have been seriously shattered by the recent events and political decisions (see chart no.
1).
Chart 1: Europeans Trust in the EU
Chart 1 - Trust in the European Union
60%

55%
50%
40%

47%

50%

41%

47%

47%

48%

40%

41%

40%

47%
42%

49%
45%
43%

41%

36%

34%

30%
20%
10%

12%

14%

13%

12%

12%

11%

12%

10%

11%

0%
EB69
Spring
2008

EB70
Autumn
2008

EB71.1
Winter
2009

EB71
Spring
2009

Tend to Trust

EB72
Autumn
2009

EB73
Spring
2010

Tend not to trust

EB74
Autumn
2010

EB75
Spring
2011

EB76
Autumn
2011

Don't know

Chart no.1 aggregates the data about the Europeans trust in the EU, according to the
Eurobarometer surveys carried out between the spring of 2008 and the autumn of 2011. The
question asked was: I would like to ask you a question about how much trust you have in
certain institutions. For each of the following institutions, please tell me if you tend to trust it or
tend not to trust it? the EU.
Starting with 2010, one can observe an obvious erosion of Europeans trust in the EU.
During the spring of 2010, the percentage of citizens who did not trust the EU surpassed the
percentage of citizens who still trusted the EU (47% vs. 42%). We may assume that this was
23

also due to the fact that, following the ECs official announcement that Europe had exited the
recession in mid-2009, Europeans had great expectations about the 2010 2011 period.
Unfortunately, these expectations were never met. What the EC failed to explain was that by
exiting the recession (i.e. through two consecutive quarters of growing GDP), the EU was not
leaving the crisis behind.
However, the erosion of the citizens beliefs in the EU as a panacea of democracy and
public participation is not a new phenomenon. It is a trend that was very visible during the
process of ratifying the Maastricht Treaty (19921993), in referendums held in France, Denmark
and Ireland. The opposition of the citizens opened up what is often referred to as a new era, in
which Europeans are not bound anymore to the so-called permissive consensus (Hix, 2005, p.
149), thus being less likely to follow blindly the positions of their governments (Hix, 2005, p.
151). Europeans grew up in terms of political judgment, which creates new challenges for
European political bodies. The birth of the active citizenship demands constant commitment
from two sides: EUs commitment for transparency and access to information, on one side, and
citizens commitment for freely expressing their opinions in the public arena, on the other side.
Unfortunately, the European decision makers were not able to use the past events or the past EU
legitimacy crisis in order to learn how to address the present Euro crisis.
Chart 2: Support for the European economic and monetary union and the Euro
Chart 2 - Support for the European economic and monetary
union and the Euro
70%
60%

60%

61%

61%

60%

56%

58%

56%

37%

35%

37%

40%

7%

7%

7%

7%

50%
40%
30%

33%

32%

33%

33%

7%

7%

6%

7%

53%

20%
10%
0%
EB69 Spring
2008

EB70
Autumn
2008

EB71 Spring
2009

For

EB72
Autumn
2009

EB73 Spring
2010

Against

EB74
Autumn
2010

EB75 Spring
2011

EB76
Autumn
2011

Don't know

Chart no. 2 aggregates the data about the Europeans trust in the Euro, according to the
Eurobarometer surveys carried out between the spring of 2008 and the autumn of 2011. The
question asked was: What is your opinion on each of the following statements? Please tell me
for each statement, whether you are for it or against it. A European economic and monetary
union with one single currency, the euro.
We can notice that the Euro has also suffered from a decline in trust of the Europeans.
Similarly to the Europeans trust in the EU, the Europeans trust in the single currency started its
downward trend at the beginning of 2010. Still, as compared to the trust in the EU, the trust in
24

the Euro is within satisfactory limits. The Euro is still seen as a reliable and trustworthy currency
by 53% of the Europeans. Between 2008 and 2011, the decline in the trust granted to the EU was
of 13 points (from 47% in 2008 to 34% in 2011), whereas the decline in the trust granted to the
Euro as a single currency was of 7 points (from 60% in 2008 to 53% in 2011). If we compare the
EB country reports in august 2011 vs. the EB country reports in spring 2011, we can observe two
specific groups of countries that have contributed heavily to the decline in the confidence score
granted for the Euro. The first group of countries is composed of those Member States from the
euro zone that have been seriously hit by the crisis in 2010 and 2011. I am referring to Germany
(-4%), Ireland (-2%), Greece (-4%), Italy (-1%), and Portugal (-7%). Part of these countries have
also experimented open protests organized by their citizens against the austerity measures
implemented by the national governments. The second group of countries is composed of
Member States from the non-euro zone. Here the decline in trust is even more abrupt than in the
case of the countries from the first group i.e. The Czech Republic (-13%), Hungary (-10%),
Poland (-9%), Lithuania (-6%). However, many countries from the euro zone preserve their
confidence in the single currency (e.g. France, Spain, and Belgium).
Based on the data provided in charts 1 and 2, I argue that the Euro crisis is, above all, a
legitimacy crisis. Paradoxically, the Euro crisis is not related to the Euro in itself or to the
economic and monetary union. Many countries in the euro-zone appear to feel comfortable with
the single currency. Rather, the legitimacy crisis is mainly triggered by the citizens declining
trust in the EU as a political entity. Thus, at least as the European public opinion is concerned, it
may be inaccurate to label the crisis Europe faces today as the Euro crisis. From the
communication side, focusing on the Euro as a trigger of the European economic fallout might
prove to be a wrong way to approach the crisis.
The European citizens perceive the present crisis as a crisis of the EU, which involves
many aspects, many of them being related to the way the EU communicates with its citizens.
Unfortunately, the communication gap between the Europeans and the EU grew bigger as a
consequence of the crisis. This gap is also the result of a communication vacuum constantly fed
by ECs lack of communication initiatives related to the crisis. Even an outsider would be able to
seize the ECs lack of focus on crisis communication. For example, DG Communication has not
implemented any communication campaign related to the crisis so far. The Europe for Citizens
Programme (2007-2013), managed by DG Communication aimed at giving the citizen a key
role in the development of the EU (http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship) does not address any priority
related to the relationship between the EU and the Europeans during the crisis. Furthermore, the
DG Economic and Financial Affairs does not publish on its web page
(http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/) any user-friendly information about the EU economic
situation. Most of the publications about the crisis are very technical and clearly dedicated to
specialists. The only section that could be easily understood by the general public is the section
on General interest publications. This section is less specialized, but is mostly dedicated to the
Euro. The same situation applies to the European Central Bank web page (http://www.ecb.int),
where the focus is again on the Euro. The European institutions have invested many of its
25

communication efforts in advocating the Euro. These efforts are, of course, salutary, but they are
not enough and can not be a substitute for an effective crisis communication or for advocating
Europe. What many European decision-makers seem to ignore is that the EU and the Euro are
two different entities. And this may prove to be costly from the communication side.

4.3.

Conclusions

According to the EB between 2008 and 2011, the European citizens declining trust in the
EU is an evident trend. The Euro, as a single currency, still benefits from a good confidence
level, especially in countries from the Eurozone. The Euro appears to be a more credible symbol
of the EU than it is the Union in itself. This lead me to the conclusion that it may be wrong to
assume that the present crisis is solely an Euro crisis; rather, the European public opinion tells us
that its key concern is the EU and its eroding prerogatives.
Solving EU legitimacy crisis is like solving a very complex puzzle. Some pieces of this
puzzle belong to the political actors; others belong to financial regulators, whereas others belong
to the civic society. Even though European citizens are an important part of this puzzle, many
European decision-makers seem to elude this. Jurgen Habermas, the creator of the public sphere,
illustrates this aspect in his latest book -The Crisis of the EU: A Response, which was
published in April 2012:The supranational expansion of civic solidarity depends on learning
processes that can be stimulated by the perception of economic and political necessities[]
(extract published by the British newspaper The Guardian in November 2011). EU
communication is a feasible way to create an accurate perception of economic and political
necessities. Despite this, there is a gap between ECs documents on EU communication - i.e.
White Paper on a European Communication Policy, Plan D, EUs Information and
Communication Strategy, and the specific communication actions implemented by the EU in
order to cope with the crisis.
I do not argue that EU communication is a universal solution. There are other actors in
the European public sphere i.e. mass media, political elites that also have their role in
rehabilitating the Europeans eroding trust.
Traditionally, EU communication policy was formulated as a remedy for Europeans
(negative) attitudes towards the European project. Nowadays, European decision makers can
make a step forward and they can use the past lessons in order to proactively communicate the
crisis. The crisis is a good vehicle for active citizenship and it can be used as a stimulus for
public participation. Communication can become a valuable partner and a good ingredient in any
political decision. The European institutions, in general, and the EC, in particular, should take
this into account when formulating their policies. EU communication has an important stake in
recovering the Europeans lost trust in the European project. Herman Van Rompuy, President of
the European Council, said that during the crisis () we stumbled but did not fall. (2010, p.
134) My belief is the EU communication has a big stake in preventing us from stumbling over
and over again.
26

5. What is at Stake: a Brief Incursion into the Meaning of the (European) Public
Sphere

As Simon Hix has noticed ever since 2005, the erosion of the citizens beliefs in the EU
as a panacea of democracy and public participation is a trend that emerged during the process of
ratifying the Maastricht Treaty (19921993), in referendums held in France, Denmark and
Ireland. The opposition of the citizens opened up what is often referred to as a new era, in which
Europeans are not bound anymore to the so-called permissive consensus (Hix, 2005, p. 149),
thus being less likely to follow blindly the positions of their governments (Hix, 2005, p. 151).
Europeans grew up in terms of political judgment. The birth of the active citizenship demands
constant commitment from two sides: EUs commitment for transparency and access to
information, on one side, and citizens commitment for freely expressing their opinions in the
public arena, on the other side. As we will show below, this twofold commitment premised the
creation of the EU communication policy. The most recent documents on EU communication
issued by the European Commission seem to confirm what several authors predicted (e.g.
McCormick, Ladrech, Eriksen) several years ago: the new European citizen should be seen as an
active actor on the political scene, who will make herself or himself heard whenever (s)he will be
granted with the opportunity to speak out. The European citizen has been subject to a paradigm
shift from the passive recipient of the European political decisions to the active voice that is
made more and more audible on the political level.
If we take a close look to EUs history, we will observe that EU communication is
subject to a paradox. Technically, the crisis of the European governance model has premised the
formulation of the European communication policy as a new horizontal policy aimed at
bridging the gap between the European institutions and the European citizens. We will
illustrate this assumption by taking a close look to several events that have put the European
cohesion under the question mark. Such events are mainly related to the referendums organized
around key momentums: Irelands refusal to support the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, the negative
vetos given by The Netherlands and France for the European Constitution in 2005, Irelands lack
of support for the Treaty of Nice in 2001. In a nutshell, EU communication policy was
formulated as a means of coping with Europeans (negative) attitudes towards the European
project. Although these reactions are widely known under the label of Eurscepticism, we must
admitt that Euroscepticism is not the only one to blame for citizens opposing attitudes towards
the European Union. The image of a mentally lethargic population lagging behind the political
elites represents just one side of the icon. (Habermas, 2009, p. 129).
In the theoretical field, there is a strong tendency to explain the Europes lack of cohesion
by entering the rather complex field of European identity studies, which tackle several sensitive
subjects, such as the Europeanization of the national cultures or the creation of a European
public sphere or Eurosphere. Scholars interested in EU communication argue that Europes
27

lack of cohesion or collective identity is a result of the European public sphere deficit
(Gerhards, 1993), which is seen as a part of a larger democratic deficit. As any theoretical field,
EU communication is subject to many controversies and opposing perspectives. Some believe
that we cannot speak of a European public sphere in a meaningful way (Kantner, 2004), whereas
others argue that public spheres are out there waiting to be discovered by analysts (Risse,
2010, p. 110). Thus, in order to understand the complex mechanism behind the creation of the
European identity, we are going to structure our discussion around the public sphere as a concept
in the making and we are going to propose and test a new way of analysing the way the
European public sphere emerges. We assume that it is possible to configure the European public
sphere under the pressure of external, non-European events taking place outside the European
Union.

5.1.

EU Communication and the Public Sphere

Despite its rather complex and long history, EU communication became a strategic
objective of the EC only in 2005. 2005 is the year when, spurred by the negative votes given by
France and the Netherlands for the European Constitution, the European Commission issued
several key documents aimed at closing de gap between EUs institutions and EUs citizens. If
we make a simple count, we can observe a time gap of around 50 years between the creation of
the European Community and the formulation of a European policy in the field of
communication. This gap was filled with rather isolated initiatives in the field of EU
communication, such as the creation of the Press and Information Service (1955) within the High
Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community or the settlement of the Eurobarometer
(1973), which still operates as the European opinion survey tool. Despite the fact that many
European documents claim to be premised on the idea that the European citizen has the right of
being actively involved in the political life of the European Union, the social and political reality
shows us something different. Each time the Europeans have been granted with the opportunity
to clearly state their political wish (e.g. within referenda), the European government had to cope
with complex and problematic situations. There were situations in which not even those states
that are positioned in the avant-garde of the European project (e.g. France, The Netherlands)
were able to reach a political consensus. One explanation for the unpredictability of referenda is
that a politically mobilized population can make decisions without concern for professional
politicians interest in retaining power. (Habermas, 2009, p. 129). During referenda organized
on European issues, political interests are irrelevant for the general public, who acts and behaves
according to its own code of honor, which is mainly leveraged by a feeling of belonging to a
common European reality or, more simple, by the European we-feeling (Eriksen, 2009). A
poor European we-feeling translates into a low level of citizens involvement, which may be
seen as an indicator of a poor communication between the European Union, on one side, and the
European citizens, on the other side. Since citizens are not informed about the high-level
28

European decisions, then they cannot make any educated decision regarding the EU;
furthermore, they will lack the motivation to analyze the actual political context and, thus, they
will try to deny or to reject whatever they do not understand. This would be the explanation
formulated by a communication theorist.
If we analyzed this aspect through the lenses of the cultural anthropologist, then the
situation is perfectly natural and logical. In both qualitative and quantitative terms the
development of the European Union represents one of the most sophisticated and mature
attempts to construct an intergovernmental, and to a lesser extent, supranational framework for
the initiation, implementation and enforcement of a variety of economic, political and public
policy objectives. (Ward, 2002, p. 1) In deed, the European project is one of the most
ambitious endeavors in the contemporary history. When referring to the European Union,
diversity through unity appears to be a credible slogan at least as far as the institutional level
is concerned. By building a transnational state, organized after its own principles, institutions,
and laws, the European Union meets most of the formal prerequisites for becoming a vivid
entity. At an upper political and institutional level, the European Union appears to be an engine
of unity and solidarity. However, the history has put its fingerprint on the actual European
picture, and, nowadays we see many Europes in terms of cultures, languages, norms, values,
traditions, knowledge, political involvement etc. the plurality of Europe is more than a
diversity of cultures and nations, but extends into its very civilizational nature (Delanty &
Rumford, 2005, p. 35).
If there are several Europes Western, Northern, Southern, Eastern, Latin, AngloSaxon, Slav, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant etc does this mean that the European project is
only a chimera fed by the enthusiasm that followed the end of the World War II? A thorough
analysis of a deeper level of Europe can provide a pertinent answer to this question. This deeper
level consists of the so-called public sphere, which creates the premises for collective
identity or the European we-feeling (Eriksen, 2009). Why focusing on the public sphere? The
public sphere is a prerequisite of the collective identity. In brief, public sphere plays an
important role for the emergence of a common identity (Risse & Brabowsky, 2008, p. 1).
Whereas early research provided pessimistic prognosis for the emergence of a European
public sphere, more recent findings (Risse, 2010; Van de Steeg, 2004) are more optimistic and
point out to several already existing processes, which contribute to the making of an agora of the
civil society or of the general public, a place for the exchange of information, ideas, opinions, a
vehicle of contestation, and, thus, an engine of democratization. According to Jurgen Habermas,
who is considered the creator of the public sphere (Brgoanu, 2011, p. 192), the emergence of
the public sphere seems to be a fascinating and intriguing process that is mainly leveraged by the
media and the public communication. public communication is a force which both stimulates
and orients citizens opinions and desires, while at the same time compelling the political system
to adapt and become more transparent. (Habermas, 2009, p. 136) Recent findings point out to
the fact that communication is a key element in configuring the European public sphere. Public
spheres whether local, regional, national, or issue-specific are social constructions in the true
29

sense of the word. They do not preexist outside communication, but are created precisely when
people speak to one another, be it in interpersonal settings or through the media. Public spheres
emerge through the process by which people debate controversial issues in the public. (Risse,
2010, p. 110).
The Commissions White Paper on a European Communication Policy, published in
February 2006 and aimed at laying the foundation of the EU communication policy, adopts
public sphere as a current bureaucratic term of reference (Schlesinger, 2007, p. 67). This
suggests a fruitful convergence of the academic and political interests, and, furthermore, it
proves that the public sphere is not (only) an over-rated and over-theorized notion. Moreover, the
5th and 6th Framework Programmes, focused on funding international research projects, listed
the public sphere as a specific field of research, which implies that the Commission tacitly
confirmed that researching the public sphere is a necessity. But what is the public sphere? Or, to
paraphrase M. Schudson, we could ask Was there ever a public sphere? If So, When?
(Calhoun, 1996, p. 143)
At a rather trivial level, public sphere is a term to describe a communicative space
populated by citizens who gather in order to freely express their opinions, to protest, to contest,
to debate, to influence political decision; these citizens may act as a common voice, as a volont
gnrale; they want to make themselves heard. As the public sphere is regarded as key ingredient
in finding the Eldorado of the European project, that is an European identity shared by all
European citizens, the literature in the field of EU public sphere is abundant and still flourishing.
The concept of public sphere has been long theorized. Historically speaking, the public
sphere was born twice, under two paradigms. The American paradigm intimately links the public
sphere with the raise of the public and public opinion. In this light, the famous polemic
between the philosopher John Dewey and the journalist Walter Lippman is eloquent. In 1927 this
polemic became widely known through the publication of two important books: The Public and
Its Problems (authored by John Dewey) and The Phantom Public (authored by Walter
Lippman). The dispute was shaped by two opposite attitudes towards the public: J. Dewey
inferred that the citizens should continue to participate in the public affairs and search for the
legitimacy of their opinions, whereas Lippman concluded that the public can not lead a nation
and that only well educated and informed people the so-called experts - should be granted
with the opportunity to make themselves heard in the public space. Both authors premised their
arguments on the fact that democracy is an effective mechanism of conducting a nation.
However, their perspectives of the role of the ordinary citizen in the democratic system are
totally different and, to a certain extent, still applicable.
If the American inauguration of the public sphere is strongly influenced by mass media,
publicity, and advertising, the European birth of the public sphere is more ideologically
grounded. Seyla Benhabib (1996) delineates three different conceptions of the public sphere in
the European context. The first one is called the agonistic approach; Hannah Arendt, its major
representative, regards public space as a republican virtue or civic virtue (Calhoun ed., 1996,
30

p. 73). The second one is the legalistic model of the public space, which brings into the
limelight the notion of public dialogue; typical for the liberal tradition, this model was
inaugurated by Immanuel Kant. The third and last model is mastered by Jurgen Habermas and is
labelled as the discursive public space. The Kantian tradition played a very important role in
the configuration of the Habermasian theory on the public sphere; Habermas has used the
rational and normative perspective, typical for the Kantian system, in order to configure a public
sphere which is regulated by the power of public debate and political communication.
However, the concept of public sphere has gained considerable popularity in the
academic world since the translation in English of Jrgen Habermass book Strukturwandel der
ffentlichkeit (1962), known to the English speakers under the title The Structural
Transformation of the Public Sphere (1989). Linguistically, the syntagm <<public sphere>>
seems to be a recent construction, selected by a translator to find a label for a word that has been
in regular use in Germany since the 18th century. (Kleinsteuber, 2001, p. 96). As Habermas
himself stated, the usage of the words <<public>> and <<public sphere>> betrays a multiplicity
of concurrent meanings (Habermas, 1993, p. 1). The public sphere is a realm of our social life
in which something approaching public opinion can be formed. Access is guaranteed to all
citizens. A portion of the public sphere comes into being in every conversation in which private
individuals assemble to form a public body (Habermas, 1974, p. 49). According to Habermas,
the public sphere is a space where private persons assemble to debate matters of public concern.
The freedom of publicly expressing ones opinions, ideas and beliefs, of getting involved in a
public debate in order to identify the best solution for a collective problem, of debating on the
political options is a basic feature of modern democracies. Without this freedom, the public
sphere is a utopia.
In specialized literature there are many definitions of the public sphere. We will just
review the most prominent ones. For Eriksen, the public sphere is the place where civil society
is linked to the power structure of the state (Eriksen, 2009, p.120); for Fraser it is the
informally mobilized body of nongovernmental discursive opinion that can serve as a
counterweight to the state (Fraser, 1990, p. 134); Trenz sees it as the engine of
democratization, an open field of communicative exchange (Trenz, 2008, p. 2); Risse focuses
on an empirical definition of the concept by stating that the public sphere is a a shared
community of communication (Risse, 2003, p. 7). Taylor has defined public sphere as a
metatopical space (Taylor, 1993, p. 229) in order to capture the non-assembly character of
this common space of thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
Claes H. de Vreese sums-up the different approaches related to the public sphere, by
delineating between the <<public sphere heavy>> notion of a singular, pan-European public,
and the <<public sphere light>> notion of co-existing national public spheres in regard to
European politics (de Vreese, 2007, p. 8). The already widely rejected concept of a single
transnational European public sphere (due to differences imposed by language, religion, access
to mass media, etc), experienced a short delusive resurrection in 2003, when both Habermas and
Derrida saw in the public demonstrations against US invasion in Iraq the empirical birth of the
31

European public sphere. Since these popular reactions did not happen in Europe only, it is
reasonable to agree that these events were rather a manifestation of the <<maturing of global
civil society>> and not an expression of a European public sphere (de Vreese, 2007, p. 8).
The most recent conceptualizations of the public sphere are focused on its communicative
character and underline the fact that public spheres are social constructs that emerge in the
process during which people engage one another and debate issues of common concern in the
public. Public spheres and communities of communication come into being when people argue
about controversial issues. (Risse, 2010, p. 125). Habermas argues that the public sphere
contributes to the legitimation of the political discourse, by keeping it active, by steering and
filtering it (Habermas, 2009, p. 159). Thus, the public sphere could be understood as an
intermediate system of of mass communication, situated between the formally organized
deliberations and negotiations at the centre and the arranged or informal conversations which
take place in civil society at the periphery of the political system. (Habermas, 2009, p. 159)
Recent research on EU communication and public sphere is starting to surpass the already
traditional discourse about the existence or non-existence of a European or Europeanized public
sphere. Koopmans and Statham (2010, p. 38) arrive at three different types of Europeanization.
The first is the emergence of a supranational European public sphere that consists of interactions
among European-level institutions and collective actors (Koopmans & Statham, 2010, p. 38);
the second is the vertical Europeanization, which consists of communicative linkages between
different European countries (idem); the third is horizontal Europeanization, which consists of
communicative linkages between different European countries. This shows that the scholars
discourse on EU communication and public sphere has matured, thus starting to accept the idea
that the emergent public sphere of Europe is not the final stage of a full post-national and
federal democracy (de Beus. In Koopmans & Statham, 2010, p. 33).

5.2.

Case Study: Mass Media Role in Broadcasting the Europes Single Voice during
the Arab Spring
Euronews.net and Europes single voice

When analyzing the mass media role in the emergence of the public sphere,
Europeanization is a matter of adopting a tone and logic focused on Europes single voice.
Mass media is often referred to as the infrastructure of the public sphere (Habermas, 2009, p.
164), which means that its role in the creation of the European identity is well-recognized and
documented in various studies and research projects (e.g. Risse, 2003, Trenz, 2008, Koopmans &
Statham, 2010). My assumption is that Europes single voice should be more visible and easily
quantifiable when analyzing those mass media that are in close relation to the European Union
and European Commission.
This may seem redundant, as the official goal of the media tools funded by the
Commission (i.e. Euronews.net) is to frame the international events from the EUs own
32

perspective. In the Commission Communication of 9 July 2003, which called for an ad hoc
evaluation of Community support for the EuroNews channel, it is explicitly stated that
EuroNews is clearly relevant to EU objectives and that it is efficient as a partner for the
Commission compared to comparable alternatives and to industry norms. This is coherent with
the Maastricht Treaty (1993), which clearly stipulates that the EU must promote a single unitary
image on the international (non-European) stage. This single image should be centered on the
core-values of the European Union, which are related to social and economic cohesion,
decisional transparency, and respect for cultural diversity.
EuroNews was founded in 1992, following the First Persian Gulf War, during which
CNN's position as the preeminent source of 24-hour news programming was cemented. Thus, the
European Broadcasting Union decided to establish the channel to present information from a
European perspective. Euronews was first broadcast on 1 January 1993 from Lyon. By going
outside the traditional national or international frameworks within which the journalistic
profession functions, the members of the channel came to slowly define what news with a
European perspective meant. (Baisnee & Marchetti, 2010, p. 9). Like most of the television
channels that do news, Euronews depends on external sources. It is a so-called channel of postproduction (without camera), as it depends on a plurality of sources for footage. This is due to
financial constraints, as Olivier Baisnee explains (2010, p. 10). Since 2008, Euronews is
available online through the web site euronews.net that broadcasts news related to European and
non-European events.
Research Methodology and Background
I have used qualitative framing as a means for exploring how euronews.net approaches
the Arab Spring. The final goal is to understand how the EU is framed in relation to important
and very visible non-European events, such as the Arab revolutions. Qualitative framing is also
used to see if the Europes single voice is promoted by the European news portal.
The qualitative framing was performed on all the news related to the Arab revolutions
posted by euronews.net during February, March, and April 2011. This meant a research corpus
composed of 42 articles: 18 articles published in February, 19 articles published in March, and 5
articles published in April. Following the political and military tensions, period comprised
between February and April 2011 is rather rich in news and comments focused on the Arab
revolutions.
In brief, the Arab Revolutions or the Arab Spring consisted in a wave of
demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world. Since 18 December 2010 there have
been: revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt; a civil war in Libya resulting in the fall of its regime;
civil uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen; major protests in Israel, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan,
Morocco, and Oman; minor protests in Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and
Western Sahara. Protests peaked in the Spring of 2011, which is the reason why I analyzed the
February April 2011 period. During The Arab Spring, the most violent protests took place in
33

Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and escaladed very fast. The Tunisian President fled to Saudi Arabia
on 14 January following the Tunisian revolution protests; the Egyptian President resigned on 11
February 2011, after 18 days of massive protests, ending his 30-year presidency; the Libyan
leader Muammar al-Gaddafi was overthrown on 23 August 2011, after the National Transitional
Council (NTC) took control of Bab al-Azizia thereby effectively losing control of Libya.
Research Questions and Key Findings
Research question 1: What are the key factors that influenced the agenda-setting of
euronews.net in the Arab conflicts?
Most of the articles approaching the Arab revolutions were published by euronews.net
during two periods: 1. between the 21st and the 28th of February, and 2. between the 10th and the
28th of March. These two periods concentrate approx. 70% of the news related to the violent
events taking place in the Arab countries. In the table below I explain the informational and
communicational thickness of these periods by making correlations between the number of
articles published by euronews.net and the political and military events:

Period
Key events
th
21 28 February = 13 February 10: President Mubarak ceded all
articles
presidential power to Vice President Omar
Suleiman, but soon thereafter announced that he
(30% of the total number of
would remain as President until the end of his
articles)
term.
February 18: Human Rights Watch reported 84
Focus: Egypt (36%) and Libya
deaths in Libya since the beginning of riots.
(64%)
February 24: the European Union diplomats met
to discuss sanctions. These included an EU travel
ban, an asset freeze and an arms embargo.
US President Barack Obama stated that Gaddafi
has lost the legitimacy to rule and must leave
now.
February 26: The UN Security Council announced
sanctions against Libya.
th
th
10 28 of March = 17 March 11: the leaders of the 27 EU countries
articles
organized a special summit to discuss Libya. They
said unanimously that Gaddafi must leave power
(40% of the total number. of
immediately.
articles)
March 17: the United Nations Security Council
34

Resolution 1973 was adopted, authorizing a no-fly


Focus: Libya (80%), Tunisia
zone over Libya, and "all necessary measures" to
(10%), Egypt (5%), Others
protect civilians. Two days later, France, the
(5%)
United States and the United Kingdom intervened
in Libya with a bombing campaign against proGaddafi forces.
Table 1: Correlation between the propensity of news and the actual events around the Arab
revolutions
As shown in Table 1, on euronews.net the most visible Arab country involved in the
Arab Spring is Libya, followed by Egypt. In February, over 60% of the articles were focused
on the Libyan conflict, whereas during March euronews.net dedicated its news almost
exclusively to the Libyan revolution. Other countries that were mentioned in the news posted on
euronews.net were Tunisia and Syria.
By correlating the visibility of the Arab countries affected by the turmoil events with the
international political events taking place during that period, one can conclude that, between
February and April 2011, the agenda-setting for the Arab Spring was influenced by two factors
at least as euronews.net is concerned: 1. the political and military implications of the events for
both the EU and the UN, and 2. the geographical proximity to Europe (e.g. Libya, Egypt,
Tunisia). Thus, the political implications of an event/an organization/a country and its
geographical proximity are key aspects that influenced the way euronews.net set the agenda in
this international non-European context.
There were poor or no correlations between the actual gravity of the facts taking place in
the Arab states affected by the revolutions and the agenda set by euronews.net. For example, the
Syrian people were subject to the regimes violent reactions, but hardly did euronews.net cover
these facts. Two articles published in March and one article published in April illustrated the
Syrian revolution, but euronews.net gave it a short shrift. As it is evident in the following quotes,
euronews.net mentioned the facts with no additional explanations: In the Syrian city of Deraa
crowds have set fire to a building housing the local headquarters of the ruling Baath party.
(21/03)
One can notice that there is a difference between the way euronews.net comments the
conflicts in Libya and Egypt which are by far the focus of the European news portal, on the one
hand, and the way it addresses the conflicts in other Arab countries, on the other. The news
focused on Libya or Egypt is rather analytical and focused on the relationship between the EU or
the UN and the specific events, whereas the news on Syria, Qatar or Tunisia are rather
informational they present the facts in a simple and plain language.
Analytical focus
Informational focus
The turmoil in Cairo is being felt by Police in Tunisia have fired warning
Egyptians around the world. In Brussels, shots and tear gas to disperse crowds of
35

scores of people marched through the


streets to lend their support to calls for
President Mubarak to step down.
Mubarak clear off, they shouted, while
some were even more blunt. EU leaders
have urged Egypt to move swiftly towards
democracy. But some say the 27-member
bloc has been slow to respond to events
unfolding in Cairo. (www.euronews.net,
06/02/11 22:34 CET)
Libyas Muammar Gaddafi now has all
of NATO to reckon with. The 28-member
military alliance has agreed to be in
charge of the UN-backed western-led
coalition intervening in Libya. A structure
has been worked out to police the skies,
enforce the arms embargo and safeguard
civilian lives.(www.euronews.net, 28/03
18:11 CET)

protesters in the centre of the capital,


Tunis. (www.euronews.net, 26/02/11
00:44 CET)
The Tunisian Prime Minister has
announced resignation following a series
of street protests.(www.euronews.net,
27/02/11 18:13 CET)
At least 88 people have been killed in the
latest protests in Syria says human rights
organisation
Sawasia.()
Tens
of
thousands took to the streets with killings
reported in one Damascus district and six
of its suburbs, in the central city of Homs,
Latakia, and in Izraa in the south. Dozens
more have been injured.
(www.euronews.net - 22/04/11 22:34
CET)

The UN involvement had a big stake in establishing how the euronews.net should
approach the Arab revolutions. By reviewing all news about the Arab spring, one can discover
that UN was mentioned 29 times, the US was mentioned 8 times, and the NATO was
mentioned 30 times each time in relation to the Libyan revolution. The focus of external nonEuropean authorities was on Libya rather that on other Arab countries that were as well strongly
affected by violent events. Thus, one may rightfully assume that non-European organizations
played an important role in the way euronews.net approached the Arab revolutions. Of course,
this assumption should be judged under the limitations which are somehow inherent to any pilot
study: the limited period of analysis, the limited number of media channels, and the limited
number of articles subject to my analysis. Despite these evident limitations, the study shows that
the propensity of euronews.net towards certain events is highly influenced by the way external
non-EU authorities relate to those events. One can notice an important difference between the
way euronews.net builds its discourse on those countries that are its key focus and which set its
agenda (e.g. Libya, Egypt) and the way it approaches other Arab countries. The analytical tone,
used by euronews.net for describing the events taking place in the agenda-setting countries is
mainly leveraged by the EUs or UNs direct involvement in peace-setting measures.
Research question 2: How is EU framed in relation to the Arab conflict?
36

In order to answer the second research question, I used the qualitative framing. My focus
was not on general frames, as it is evident that the conflict frame would be predominant, taking
into account the very subject of the news. Rather, I tried to identify several specific frames,
which are relevant for how EU is actually positioned in relation to Arab revolutions. I have
identified two main frames used by euronews.net in order to address the Arab conflicts: the
open supporting Europe and the closed defensive Europe.
The open Europe reveals the humanitarian side of Europe; www.euronews.net points
out to a Europe which is mainly concerned about the fate of the affected populations. This frame
is approached in two ways. First, the EU is framed as a model of democracy for the Arab
countries. In an article published on 22nd of February, euronews.net presents the EU foreign
ministers determination to provide support to those countries in the grip of unrest and to
manage their peaceful transition to a peaceful government. When an EU official frames the
EU as a model of democracy, the result is almost apologetic. For example, the British Foreign
Secretary William Hague speaks about the EUs historic responsibility to fight the instability
on our frontiers (22/02/11). The tone adopted by Jose Manuel Barroso is also very firm: We
must do everything so that the current regime leaves the country and stops its actions against the
Libyan people.(02/03/11). In another article, it is shown that The European Unions 27
leaders have said unanimously that the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi must leave power
now. (11/03/11)
The second way of framing the open Europe is by underlining the EUs humanitarian
values and its determination to provide unconditioned support to all those in deep need. For
example, www.euronews.net explicitly mentions that the EU is very supportive for the Arab
people in need of special assistance: The European Unions foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton, at talks in Tunis, has expressed support for Tunisias caretaker administration, as
increasing numbers of illegal migrants from that country bring calls for help from Italy. Also,
Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, said: In the Benghazi
area, we have humanitarian teams already on the ground, and they report that there is a need
for medical assistance. Because the Libyan health system had foreigners at its heart and they
have left, leaving behind a huge void, which has to be filled.(02/03/11). In addition, ECs
President declares: We will step up our cooperation with international humanitarian
organizations to alleviate the situation inside Libya and at its borders. We have already freed-up
37 million Euros and deployed teams on the ground.(11/03/11).
The second frame is the closed defensive Europe. In this frame, we see a Europe that
fears its own stability and who is prepared to act as a military ally in order to avoid further
turmoil. The Italian Foreign Minister makes the EU officials aware of the dangers resting at the
Mediterranean shores: Italy is a first destination country where potentially an enormous
number of migrants could make for.dozens of people who, due to disasters, chaos or violence
could flood on to its shores. (22/02/11) or Im extremely concerned about the self
proclamation of these so-called Islamic Emirate of Benghazi. Would you imagine having an
37

Islamic Arab Emirate at the borders of Europe? This would be a very serious threat. (21/02/11)
Germanys Minister for External Affairs declares that Germany will not participate with
soldiers, which does not mean that Germany isneutral or that it has any sympathy with the
dictator Gaddafi. Rather, Germanys non-intervention means that it sees the risks and that it
has reasons for its concern.(21/03/11)
However, the predominant frame is the open Europe. In general, this frame is mainly
advocated by EU officials, such as Jose Manuel Barroso or Catherine Ashton, who become very
active in promoting the image of the humanitarian and democratic Europe .The closed
Europe is mainly leveraged by several key representatives of the Member States i.e. the
Foreign Ministers from Italy or Germany. In the Arab context, EUs officials tendency to
position the EU as open and carrying is counterweighted by the need of several Member States to
reaffirm their status quo concerning political and military decisions. In their quest for stability,
the Member States use NATO as a panacea of military interventions. Thus, one may conclude
that EU is not perceived by its Member States as a military or political construction; rather, it is
positioned as a funding institution, which is ready to offer financial assistance to the victims of
the Arab conflicts. This dichotomy is coherent with what political analysts and historians
observed when analyzing the EUs role in the Arab Spring. For T. Schumacher, the EU clearly
revealed itself as both an actor and spectator by resorting to both activism and passivism in a
seemingly erratic fashion (2011, 108). Furthermore, the Arab Spring revealed regular displays
of disunity among EU member states governments over how best to react and finally led to a
policy response that reaffirmed, yet once more, the different degrees of importance the EU
attaches to the southern Mediterranean and the Gulf countries. (2011, 117).
If one takes a closer look to the visibility of the key actors mentioned by
www.euronews.net within the analyzed period and in relation to the Arab Spring, the dichotomy
between the EUs and the Member States perspectives is striking. Jose Manuel Barroso, the
President of the European Commission is presented as a defender and promoter of humanistic
values, his discourse being focused on how EU could support the Arab people subject to violence
and crimes: We must do everything so that the current regime leaves the country and stops its
actions against the Libyan people. Catherine Ashton, the European foreign policy chief, is also
focused on the open Europe: We are extremely concerned by the events which are unfolding
in Libya. We condemn the on-going repression against demonstrators, and deplore the violence
and the death of civilians.
As regards the representatives of the Member States governments, the Great Britain has
the greatest visibility through its Prime-Minister, David Cameron, and its Foreign Minister,
William Hague. Interestingly, their focus is rather on the closed Europe than on the open
Europe. The national officials are less concerned than EU officials about advocating the image
of a an open, humanistic Europe, and more focused on making a clear point regarding the
political and military stability of the EU.

38

6. Communicating Solidarity

Nowadays, we can speak about Europes crisis of solidarity that is starting to become even
more acute, even more serious than the gravest economic effects of the Economic crisis. Given
the actual context, we could rightfully state that the Europes belt-tightening exercise would
easily be eclipsed by the EUs crisis of solidarity. The current crisis has caught the European
Union in the midst of fundamental reordering, when citizenship and identity were starting to
coagulate. The economic turmoil revealed older tensions and created new ones among EUs
political actors. But, as Jrgen Habermas explains, the main conflict in Europe is not necessarily
a purely political one, but rather the genuine expression of the gap between economic rationality
and political vision. On the threshold between economic and political unification of Europe,
politics seems to hold its breath and to play low profile. (Habermas, 2012) The crisis of the
European Union (J. Habermas, 2011) has emerged as a new angle of analysis. From this
perspective, the current crisis should not be seen solely as a financial and economic crisis, but
rather, as an intrinsically political crisis, generated by the EUs lack of solidarity, by the fact that
EU could not take concerted decisions in some moments that many have subsequently deemed as
having been critical in the evolution of the crisis. There is general consent that the current
economic crises, in general, and the euro crisis, in particular, place the European Union at a
crossroads. The problems arising are not only of a practical (economic and financial) nature, but
also highly symbolic. In a statement made by the Council for the Future of Europe (Europe is the
solution, not the problem, 6th of September 2011) it is admitted that the vision of Europe that
will succeed is that which inspires the commitment of its citizens whose faith in a European
future is shaken. Some talk about Europes darkest moment: The crisis in Europe is existential.
It is a question of whether the EU survives as a recognizable entity. (Giddens, 2012). Even
though the outburst of the crisis did not happen on the European territory, but on the other side of
the Atlantic, the effects of what started in 2007 are most enduring in the EU and one could safely
state that most serious impact of the global crisis is on Europe itself: what started as the
subprime crisis in 2007 and morphed into the Global Credit Crisis in 2008 has become the Euro
Crisis in 2009 (Eichengreen, 2011, 1). Now, we are dealing with a never-ending crisis - neither
of the common currency, nor of the euro zone or of its banking system, but with a never-ending
crisis of the European Union itself (Habermas, 2012). Europes crisis of solidarity is now very
visible during the process of deciding on the new Multiannual Financial Framework. The
disparity between nation-oriented interests and Europe-oriented visions is evident and represent
the expression of clearly defined positions in terms of political power.
Under the pressure exerted by both intra-European (i.e. the dilution of convergence, the
polarization of the Member States, the private debt in the new member states) and extraEuropean forces (the pressure of globalization, the emergence of China as a genuine global
player), Europe is in the midst of a fundamental reordering. This means that we should indeed
39

deal with those things that we have repeatedly managed to avoid in the past. The multi-speed
Europe, which implies a division between the EU-17 (euro zone) and a slower non euro
periphery, has been revealed in several instances during the EUs crisis. The analysts have gone
even further and discuss about a periphery of the euro zone, consisting in those member states
that did not achieve considerable economic outputs and recovery. In 2011, Finlands European
Minister, Alexander Stubb, proposed a new geometry of the EU, based on economic ranking.
Within the EU-17 there is a divide between Germany, Austria, Finland, and the Netherlands, a
core Triple-A, net-payers, plus a second tier of Slovenia, Slovakia, and Estonia, neither Triple-A
not net-payer. And, on the other side, we can find Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal that for a
variety of reasons have failed to follow the rules. In between there are euro-area members such
as AAA Luxembourg, AA+ France, and AA Belgium, net payers, whose positions on fiscal
disciplines are somewhat more ambiguous. (idem) Therefore, within the framework of the
crisis, the two-speed Europe risks to become a three-speed Europe, split among the first tier
of countries (Germany, Austria, Finland, and the Netherlands), the second-tier countries
consisting in the new periphery of the euro-zone, and a third-tier composed of the states outside
the monetary union. In the logic of this new geometry, several questions mark regarding the
survival of the European Project can be raised. Will Europe be able to cope with these new
divisions? Will we have more Europe or less Europe after the crisis? Is European solidarity the
victim of the current crisis?

7. Management of EU Communication campaigns: from idea


towards results
Please, see also the seminar handbook.
Communication initiatives (campaigns or simple activities) need a thorough organization
in order to attain their goals and to obtain public support. Project management as a discipline
is a means of planning, organizing, and implementing communication campaigns. The meaning
of the concept project has lately twisted from a rather limited view - specific for the
construction and IT & C fields to a more general one, which underlines the fact that projects
should be connected to policy-making and implementation 1. Thus, wider definitions for
project were formulated by the main professional associations at international level. Project
Management Institute (promoting the American project management approach) considers project
to be a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result 2, while

Brgoanu, A., From Projects to Project Management, in Business Excelence, Constantin Brtianu, Dorin Lixandroiu, Nicolae Al. Pop,
Bucharest, Academy of Economic Studies, 2006, page 57
2
***Project Management Body of Knowledge, Project Management Institute, Pennsylvania, 2004, page 20

40

Association for Project Management (focusing on the European project management) states that
projects are the most efficient way of introducing unique change 3.
Many consider that the practice of project management is a new profession, the
discipline of managing projects successfully. Over the last few years, many discussions have
been carried out within international conferences, publications and elsewhere, the conclusion
being that project management is a global profession 4. In 1990, during the Project
Management World Congress of the IPMA International Project Management Association, it
was established that the performance of projects assures the competitiveness of companies and of
nations. Ever since then, project management is being understood as a macro-economic strategy,
which could also apply to developing regions and countries.
Management by projects and programs is an explicit strategy of the European
Commission (EC). Development projects and programs are currently used by EC in order to
implement the cohesion policy, which is built on the assumption that redistribution between
richer and poorer regions in Europe is needed in order to balance out the effects of further
economic integration.
The concepts of European studies and European project management appear to be very
popular in Romania, at least as far as the usage of the terms is implied. This has happened as a result
of European funds granted to Romania as a member of the European Union. EU-funded projects
and programs represent a clear priority for Romania and are considered as one of the most important
means for organizational, social and economic development. Eurobarometer opinion polls 5 show
that public sector (local, regional and national public administration), private sector, and nongovernmental organizations are determined to benefit as much as possible from the support offered
through EU programs (e.g.: 6 out of 10 small and medium enterprises representatives, 8 out of 10
public administration representatives, and 7 out of 10 NGOs representatives showed their raising
interest in the implementation of EU financing projects.) Thus, Romanian economic, social and
administrative actors need EU financial support in order to develop sustainable projects. Yet, preaccession experience in Romania shows that the social and economic impact of EU-funded projects
was very small.
One of the key issues that caused this apparently contradictory situation (potential
beneficiaries determination to access EU funds vs. EU funded projects actual outcome) is the lack
of awareness of project management methods, tools and techniques among managers of EU-funded
projects. This fact results in focusing solely and even valorizing the bureaucratic dimension of the
European projects, on transforming the team work in a continuous flow of individual assignments,
and, nonetheless, on maximizing projects costs and deadlines.
In 1992 the European Commission adopted Project Cycle Management (PCM) as its
primary set of project design and management tools 6 (based on the Logical Framework

Dixon, Miles (Association for Project Management), Project Management Body of Knowledge, Cambridge Publishing House, UK, 2000, page
12
4
***Professionalization of Project Management, Project Management Institute, Pennsylvania, 2004, page 1
5
http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/
6
***Project Cycle Management Guidelines Supporting the effective implementation of the EC external assistance, European Commission,
Brussels, 2004

41

Approach 7), and a first PCM manual was produced in 1993. The manual was subsequently
updated in 2001, shortly after the publication of the ECs most recent Development Policy
document (April 2000), the latest version being issued in March 2004. Through these Guidelines,
EC intends to provide European project managers with a comprehensive tool for the description
of key tasks, quality assessment criteria, documented information requirements, and decision
options at each stage of the project cycle. PCM approach offers a complex and strategic view on
the way EU projects and programs are to be managed. It is primarily focused on objectives, on
the specific final goals / outcomes that must be attained by implementing EU-funded projects.
This implies that PCM is mainly targeted at EC Project Managers (at Delegations and in
Brussels), being less concerned with the implementation processes of the EU-funded projects.
PCM offers the general strategic view, the EC approach on the way projects must be
managed. By focusing on programming and evaluation issues, PCM is less appropriate for local
project managers, who are not specifically bound to use specific project management tools and
methodologies for performing within projects (from the financing decision to the closing-down).
In fact, at local level, PCM is all about programming EU money, identification of projects
tailored to best answering regional needs (in conformity with National Development Plan),
formulation of project proposals (according to the Applicants Guidelines), financing
agreements, monitoring, evaluation, and auditing of EU projects. PCM is rather used within
Romanian EU-funded projects as a guideline for elaborating progress reports, for concluding
tender procedures and contracts, for performing audits and specific evaluations.
Since PCM is officially labeled by EC as a means for managing EU projects, many
European project managers assume that this is the only tool needed for the proper administration
of projects; in this way, they tend to use PCM as a substitute for project management. This trend
is unconsciously encouraged through the training schemes for public administration, where
training on project management is rather reduced to the Project Cycle Management (the way
it is presented in the Project Cycle Management Manual, elaborated by EC).
As compared to PCM, which is focused on the project goals, project management is
rather targeted at specific processes, made operational through specialized methods. Project
management is defined as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project
activities to meet project requirements 8 9, while PCM provides an overall analytical and
decision making framework 10. PCM is an iterative method, while project management allows us
to get specific hints related to the progress in time, meeting of the scope, and performance of
costs within projects. According to Roland Gareis (2005), successful project management is

In the context of the Logical Framework Matrix a project is defined in terms of a hierarchy of objectives (inputs, activities, results, purpose and
overall objective) plus a set of defined assumptions and a framework for monitoring and evaluating project achievements (indicators and sources
of verification).
8
In the case of EU-funded projects this implies that project activities will lead to the development of the project outcomes and products promised
in the application form.
9
***A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), Project Management Institute, 2003 (3rd edition), page 23
10
***Aid Delivery Methods, European Commission, 2004, page 2

42

assured through the use of methods related to start-up, coordination, controlling, discontinuity
management, and close-down.
We may conclude that sustainable EU-funded projects are based on a well balanced
mixture of PCM (as a strategic dimension) and project management (as an operational way of
making development happen).

43

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