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Posts Tagged ‘EU’

Take a look at this promo video a French friend sent me. If you watch it through you’ll notice something strange. It’s meant to be a video crossing linguistic and cultural barriers – by the youth of Europe for the youth of Europe – urging them to vote in the European elections.

Yet the British are conspicuously absent. The English subtitles and a few good attempts by (my guess is) a Scandinavian at an English accent cannot mask the fact that our fellow countryman have not got involved in this project.

From my experience of living in France, Brits have a bad reputation when it comes to politics. According to the stereotype, we’re too busy drinking tea to get down to the polling booth.  

Poor British turnout in the 1999 European elections seemed to confirm this. Just under 23% of us voted, compared with the 50% of Europeans who cast their ballots.

Our performance in the last European elections was, however, much better, with 39% of Brits turning out.  In 2004 we showed Europe that, although are feelings towards it are often at best ambivalent, we at least cared enough to have a say on its policies. Unlike France, there has actually been an upward trend in Britain in voter turnout in the European elections.

Whatever the reasons for us not being involved in Five Friends for Europe campaign, we can still show our amis across the channel that we’re politically engaged enough to vote in the EU elections.

Still unsure? Try votematch – a quick online questionnaire which works out which parties you agree with most by getting you to click “agree” or “disagree” to different policy statements. Even if it doesn’t throw up the party your heart tells you to vote for, at will at least get you thinking about the issues.

See you at the polling station…

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TH!NK ABOUT IT EU blogging competition

TH!NK ABOUT IT EU blogging competition

 

In my last post I spoke about the negative way in which the British press portrays the EU. With this in mind, I was interested to learn that some of my course mates are taking part in a competition designed to encourage bloggers to express  their views about the European Union in the run up to the June 2009 European parliamentary elections.  

Participating in the European Journalism Centre’s TH!NK ABOUT IT competition are 81 bloggers from the 27 EU members states. Their blogs don’t give a simplistic view of the EU but instead treat specific campaign issues in depth. Among those representing Britain are City University bloggers Katrina Bishop, Etan Smallman and David Christopher. For a French view, see Jean Sebastien Lefebvre’s TH!NK ABOUT IT blog.

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 Originally uploaded by Don Gru

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the difference in the way the British and French press cover the European Union. I don’t want to harp on about the same subject but this week I came across an example of this which is too good not to share.

Last Sunday EU leaders held a meeting ahead of next month’s G20 summit with the hope of agreeing on a shared response to the economic downturn. If you read about it the next day in the British and French press you might think they were describing two different events.

A double page spread in The Times, under the heading “Suspicion and self interest behind European Union rift” painted a picture of great discord. As well as a graphic illustration of divided Europe, the article concentrated on the aspects which separated the leaders:

“The meeting was overshadowed by a cacophony of competing interests and the rejection of a cry for help from Eastern Europe, even though delegates agreed in a final statement to cooperate and fight protectionism.”

In complete contrast, many of the French newspapers chose to focus on the fact the EU leaders agreed to reject protectionism. To give just one example, A Libération blogger chose to end his post, “Union européenne: l’ouest réaffirme sa solidarité avec l’est face à la crise”, with the following quote:

“Les Vingt-sept ont fermement souligné que « le protectionnisme n’est pas la réponse à la crise actuelle.”

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At a lecture at City University yesterday, media commentator Roy Greenslade blamed Britain’s press for the British public’s continuing negative attitude towards Europe.

He pointed out that the papers rarely covered the goings on of the EU and that when the EU did hit the headlines it was often portrayed in a negative light.

According to Greenslade there are two competing narratives advanced by Euroskeptic Fleet Street: Underlying most news stories is either the assumption that there is a Franco- German conspiracy to run the EU together or the assumption that the EU is a sham because individual nations are constantly at each other’s throats.

Certainly the big EU story of the moment is the Czech President’s call for an EU summit to prevent French “protectionist” measures. The move came after Sarkozy announced a €6.5bn rescue package for French carmakers and said that they should consider relocating their plants in the Czech Republic back to France.

The difference in the coverage of the events by the French and British media is really interesting and seems to offer a good example of Greenslade’s thesis. While the Brits tended to focus on Czech- French tensions (see this article in the BBC for one example), the French looked at how the European Commission was investigating the matter first, and Czech accusations only second (see this article in L’Express).

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this one event. What do you think? Is the British media’s EU coverage too negative? Is the French media’s coverage any better?

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