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Dominika Lange: around the EU

My thoughts on the European Union

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Where is the EU?

Are we done yet?

Long time no see. At this particular moment a lot is going on around the EU. We are slowly preparing ourselves for an EU budget proposal beyond 2020 at the beginning of May. This exercise highlights main policy areas of Member State’s interest. The EU budget currently funds some of the most well-known and important EU programmes: Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps, Horizon 2020, Galileo and the Cohesion policy. Although, if you go on any street in Europe and ask some random people about those programmes, they will not be able to say almost anything about them. OK, except for Erasmus. I think we all agree that the Erasmus takes it all. Unfortunately, the EU success story cannot always tell us very nice stories about studying abroad. It needs some new fuel. 

Close circle

What strikes me right now, in our debate about the EU is the failure of courage to protect this great project. This is in fact the biggest international cooperation on a global scale. Do not get me wrong, all pro-EU initiatives are super important (go and visit WhyEurope – super good initiative!!), but living in a heart of Europe, in Brussels, make me even more aware of the fact that our activities are somehow “blocked” for the public.

Part of my work here includes my presence at different conferences and seminars. The main aim is to grasp (yes, very unequal level of events) crucial and important information about the EU activities. A lot about EU policies, programmes and projects, initiatives, opinions, results, research, innovative ideas… Endless pages of notes. Hundreds emails. No one reads my report since it contains more than 170 words. You see how big words change your thinking, but not the reality around. When I hear “dissemination” in the EU context, I am ready to run as far as possible… I know that this means sending out information without any specific strategy and target group. As a result, it is rather a spamming exercise with a limited patient on the other side.

Even closer circle

I am still waiting for any EU campaign which will rock our minds. I strongly believe it is possible, but a nice animation is not the key element for that. You have to be less formal, less correct, less naive… People remember emotions, so get to their emotions. The best thing is that I know a lot of people working in the European Commission, which good ideas are immediately cut at the lowest level by the top people, who do not understand or are too bored already to be involved and let some fresh air into the room. What happens now is of your own making. Nothing great in this world happened, because someone was following blindly existing at that point in time rules. The same story with the EU. Some courage was needed to foreseen this kind of project.

Therefore, as long as the EC (since this institution represents the EU voice in its pure definition) does not let some people out of the box (desks), we will not see any change in the process. Currently, it is difficult to deny the fact that the EU is too far from its citizens to be understood.

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