Grumpy Old European

AFP was awarded a major contract last week to provide EBS with coverage of “the movements and activities of members of the European institutions in most regions of the world” and “establish image banks illustrating the themes of major importance to the commission, the parliament and the Council of Europe.”

Er, sorry guys, but shouldn’t that be the Council of the European Union or the European Council? Well, with a bit of luck, by the time you have to tag all these videos for “broadcast on the European channel” or delivery to “media around the world rights-free” you’ll have found someone who does understand that the Council of Europe is not an institution of the European Union.

Still, what’s an institution here or there, when there’s “tens of millions of euros over four years” on the table for glossy advertorial: “AFP has decided to develop this activity as a totally separate entity from editorial; the contract is being managed by a wholly-owned subsidiary of AFP and by a specially formed unit to avoid any possible conflict with its traditional role as a news agency.”

Obviously this contract must have been developed before the publication of Project Europe 2030, where the Reflection Group on the Future of the EU suggest that:

The image of the EU which is conveyed to the public must be balanced, reflecting both strengths and weaknesses, rather than an idealised or overly pessimistic account. Instead of focusing on a communication policy which sometimes verges on propaganda, it would be preferable to communicate on policies, explaining frankly what is at stake and the different options available.

Fortunate timing! Citizens around the world will be delighted with what’s now in store. Not only will they be able to see more of the great and the good of the EU going about their activities at a safe distance from all that unremittingly negative news, their cravings for audiovisual material on “themes of major importance” to the institutions will finally be satisfied. Networks, meanwhile, will be glad to pad their schedules at zero cost, except, of course, the potential loss of audience share.

The European taxpayer will undoubtedly be ecstatic at making so many people happy, while AFP are laughing all the way to the image bank…

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