Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments


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Governance and citizenship

European governance - 24.10.2006

CEMR's response to the EU Commission's white paper on communication: "Decentralize and change the communication structures"
Decentralize the Europa website, set up common structures for EU visitors groups in Brussels, establish common EU houses in all the member states or communicate via the 30,000 town twinning links, these are some of the proposals set out by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) in response to the white paper on a European Communication Policy.
 
These suggestions presented in CEMR's response to the white paper on communication were put forward by EU policy experts and press and communication officers from CEMR members (national associations of local and regional governments). They are based on their own experience and the views of local and regional journalists of the way the EU communicates.
 
CEMR suggests, for instance, the establishment of common "EU houses" in all the member states, instead of separate representations of EU institutions. In Brussels, one single structure in charge of visitors' groups to the EU institutions would also be useful.

Since the Internet is fast becoming the main source of information for European citizens, and since the Europa website is becoming complex due to the amount of information it features, CEMR suggests creating decentralized versions of the Europa website in each member state. Each national version of the Europa website would be manned by journalists from that country, and each would feature EU news more relevant to that country.

Town twinning should be seen a vital means of bringing Europe's citizens together across national frontiers. With its network of nearly 30,000 links, town twinning could become one of the EU's best communication tools, provided that sufficient resources are allocated to it.

CEMR notes that often, the information provided by the EU lacks relevance to people's everyday life and is riddled with EU jargon. These technical words should be avoided and basic communication guidelines should bind all EU press and communication services. The way these services work should also be extensively reviewed and only professionals with extensive experience of press and communication gained outside EU institutions should work in EU press offices.
 
Background information

The European Commission published, in 2006, a document - the White Paper on a European Communication Policy - to find ways to better communicate on Europe. As a matter of facts, EU surveys show that most citizens in Europe know very little about the EU, and many feel European institutions are in a far-off place: "Brussels" seems remote from people's daily lives.
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