The European Commission has defended a PR campaign promoting the EU after it was decried as "incomprehensible" by an MEP. (EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET)


EC defends ‘incomprehensible’ €18m-plus EU PR campaign


The European Commission has defended a PR campaign promoting the European Union after it was slammed as “incomprehensible” by an MEP.

Costing the taxpayer €20 million, according to media reports, the You Are EU campaign involved the installation of broadcast, digital and billboard advertisements across the bloc.

Speaking about the PR push, Rassemblement national MEP Jean-Paul Garraud asked the EC to confirm “whether this communication campaign that is totally incomprehensible to the majority of Europeans really cost €20 million” as previously claimed in the media.

Responding to the query, EC executive vice-president Maroš Šefčovič insisted that the campaign actually cost just over €18m before hitting back at Garraud’s suggestion that it was “incomprehensible”.

“With a campaign investment of approximately €18.2 million, the Commission developed its most successful campaign so far, reaching more than 325 million people, which is 73 per cent of EU citizens,” he said.

“The campaign has generated highly positive data regarding its impact. According to survey results, most respondents believe that the campaign encouraged reflection and conveyed a positive image of the EU.

“These outcomes collectively indicate that the campaign raised awareness of the importance of energy independence for Europe,” he added.

Šefčovič went on to describe the You Are EU campaign as being an “an important tool for transparently communicating the EU’s initiatives, programmes, and priorities to EU citizens” regarding what Brussels was doing to deal with the bloc’s ongoing energy crisis.

The Commissioner’s claim that the PR project was successful came without evidence. On social media, there appears to be little reference to it.

What is more, while some EU netizens do appear to have positively engaged with the advertising push, it also appears to have turned off others, with one user describing the campaign as “disturbing”.

The EC also appears to have caused controversy with the campaign in Spain. Many people living in the Catalan region of the country expressed anger that their local advertisements were in Spanish.

Diana Riba i Giner, an MEP for the region, denounced the decision to have the campaign adverts in Spanish rather than Catalan as causing “discomfort” locally.

“Catalan, as the official language of [Catalonia], deserves all the respect from the European institutions and we have conveyed this to the commissioner,” she wrote at the time of the campaign.

She went on to describe the EU’s decision to advertise in Spanish as “unfair and discriminatory”.