Following the publication of the White Paper on the Future of Europe on March 1st and the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Treaty of Rome, the EU Institutions Working Group of the EACD held a discussion about challenges and solutions for communicating Europe.

The group was hosted by Mr. Mikel Landabaso, director of strategy and corporate communication in the Directorate-General for Communication at the European Commission, who set the context with recent Eurobarometer survey results showing the decline in trust in government institutions, the growing scepticism about media independence, the rapid rise of social media and the diversity of attitudes in different EU countries about the future of the EU.

The White Paper, offering five scenarios for the Union's evolution, presents an opportunity to debate about what our shared future could look like. We face a great many challenges, from globalisation, to the impact of new technologies on society and jobs, to security concerns and the rise of populism, and we must ensure that we seize the opportunities that these trends present. The Commission has called on national, regional and local governments, businesses and civil society organisations and EU citizens to contribute to the debate, which will culminate with the European Parliament elections in 2019. To encourage this debate, the European Commission, together with the European Parliament and interested Member States, will host a series of 'Future of Europe Debates' across Europe's cities and regions. The Commission has also invited views and comments on its website.

Communicating to citizens

The communication campaign for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty proved that citizens are willing to debate and express their views about the EU. The next challenge is to translate the EU political priorities for citizens in order to show what Europe does for Europeans, what it stands for and why. Communication campaigns will be run to reflect three messages: the EU delivers on jobs, growth and investment, the EU empowers Europeans by with a range of life-changing and life-enriching opportunities and the EU protects and defends its citizens in a volatile, uncertain international environment.

A campaign has already started on the first message, with a focus on EU supported investment and funding opportunities. Under the #investEU hash tag and with the slogan "Opportunities start here", the campaign uses a mix of PR, digital communication, traditional advertising and events to showcase a selection of EU supported projects that help create jobs and have a positive impact on local communities. Two further campaigns on 'EU empowers' and 'EU protects' will be launched later this year.

About the author:

Béla Dajka leads the corporate communication team in the Directorate-General for Communication of the European Commission. He coordinates communication planning on the Commission's political priorities, advises Commission departments on communication strategies and actions, runs campaigns and manages the Commission's visual identity. Béla works with the decentralised agencies of the European Union on streamlining their communication. Before joining the European Commission in 2008, he worked at the BBC in London where he managed editorial teams producing content for TV, radio and online. Béla is the co-head of the EU Institutions Working Group.