Brussels We Have a Problem: The Internal and External Communication Dilemma Facing the European Union

Essay by lordlarUniversity, Master'sB+, March 2007

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A 1992 pro-European ad campaign reads: “Let us unite. And the world will listen to us” , signifying the breakdown of European “otherness” with the end of the Cold War and ushering in the possibilities for new relations and actors in the European Community. The optimistic attitudes of the early 90s has fizzled to say the least, clearing the way for the popular mind-set regarding a unified Europe as simply wishful thinking. In the most obvious sense, the European Union implies a merging of Member States under a common organizational umbrella; however the dilemma today is not one of physical unification, but that of communicating Europe both within and beyond its borders. Who the European Union is, what it does, what it stands for and whether it really matters are questions EU citizens and people outside Europe are asking, to which there is a failure to provide adequate answers.

Successive enlargements of the EU – 6 members in 1958 to 27 in 2007 – has meant that it is now dealing with a highly diversified Union.

Whereas communications to a homogenous community was simple in 1958, it has now become quite a challenge to have one consistent message from all members, conveying one cohesive message to the rest of the world. This predicament became quite evident in the wake of the French and Dutch “no” vote on the 2005 European Constitutional Treaty, revealing the “Union showing multiple faces and speaking in disparate voices at a time of increasing involvement and growing ambitions”. Consequently, I will argue that the Treaty rejection illustrated the absence of dialogue in intra-Union relations, exposing both a domestic and external ‘communications deficit’ towards achieving constructive and cohesive communications policy objectives, specifically concerning the future of EU enlargement. In this context, I will focus the Union’s...