Propaganda in Europe

Description of Propaganda

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes propaganda in the following terms: [1] Different authorities give different accounts of the amount spent by the Community on information. A former special adviser to the Commission once estimated it (how reliably is hard to judge) at $750 million per year (see more in this European encyclopedia). In 1998 the European Parliament approved a $75 million campaign to promote the euro. In 1999 the Commission accounts showed expenditure of nearly $150 million on information (a quarter of it on the euro, aimed partly at schools) and plans were announced to spend another $150 million promoting the benefits of enlargement. Each Commission Directorate-General and each Community institution has its own public relations activities, and of the numerous pro-European lobbying organisations in member states some are part-funded from European sources. The true overall expenditure figures are, however, impossible to establish, given the multiplicity of institutions and the slim dividing lines between normal information, public relations and propaganda, lines made hazier by the absence of any internal democratic opposition to the Community’s policy of integration.

The British people must be led slowly and unconsciously into the abandonment of their traditional economic defences, not asked. Peter Thorneycroft, a member of Harold Macmillan’s cabinetwhich applied to join the EEC in 1961

From the outset the Community’s strategy has been to spare no expense to place itself in a favourable light as the defender of the citizen against exploitation and the purveyor of peace and prosperity to member states. Emphasis is given to the success of regional aid programmes, the voter-friendly role of ‘subsidiarity’, the supposedly overwhelming support for the EUamong enlightened people and the bright prospects for growth and jobs. The ‘inevitability’ of the process of political union is repeatedly stressed. As an inducement to think positively, many of the more than 750 journalists accredited to Brussels are paid for helpful reports, recruited to compose articles for Commission publications or given grants for writing books. By such means they can double their regular salaries. Although lip service is paid to transparency, investigative journalists seeking factual information are met with the ruling of the Court of Justice that the Commission may ‘regulate the right of public access’ to relevant documents.

Information policy is focused, with advice from experts in psychology. A 1993 report advocated targeting young people ‘where resistance is weakest’ and women, as more ‘intuitively inclined … to recognise the advantages of a better future’. As early as 1954 the European Coal and Steel Communitycommissioned a study which concluded ‘it is necessary to play on sentiments and appeal to beliefs held without judgment, in short to everything which constitutes the psychological temperament of the crowd’.


Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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