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Commission muct do 'much better' on communication

April 6, 2011


"The house is burning and we don't have time for a Europe of 'we love each other'," said Sørensen, speaking during a debate hosted by the European Foundation Centre in Brussels.
The Danish director-general of the Commission's communications directorate said that Europe must focus all its efforts on economic recovery if it is to emerge from the crisis and compete effectively with the giants of the future, like China and India.

"When you talk to kids about competing with China, they already understand. We need to be specific on concrete points, like the chances of energy bills increasing and being unable to go skiing due to climate change," Sørensen explained.

"Is the Commission good at that? No. We're a bureaucracy. We must do much better. But we're improving," he said, calling on officials at the EU executive to help communicate European issues back in their home countries.

"A college of 27 commissioners can't communicate to 500m citizens in 27 countries. Commission officials need to be out there communicating too," the Dane added.

"We don't want to be the only ones communicating either," Sørensen said, expressing hope that the Greek debt crisis would help the Commission to get better at "capturing the beat of the European media" by creating stories that they can write about at the same time across the continent.

He said Europe 2020, the EU's new strategy to boost economic growth and job creation, presented a perfect opportunity to engage Europeans in a debate on the EU's future.

Its predecessor, the Lisbon Agenda, was widely perceived to have been a failure and a lack of awareness of the strategy among the public at large was cited by many as a main reason for this.

"Take 'Europe 2020' and discuss one or two individual parts, like women's participation or the digital agenda, in several places across Europe at the same time," Sørensen advised.

Echoing this view, Gerrit Rauws, director of the Brussels-based King Baudouin Foundation, insisted that no topic was too complicated for citizens to grasp. "You just need to make sure not to overload them with information."