Addressing the failings

Series Title
Series Details Vol 7, No.18, 3.5.01, p11 (editorial)
Publication Date 03/05/2001
Content Type

Date: 03/05/01

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt this week unveiled Belgium's bold plans for its presidency of the EU, declaring it would focus on the Union's failings and take criticism seriously.

He cited lack of transparency, efficiency, democratic legitimacy and loss of identity as the public's chief concerns about the EU's current state.

What a breath of fresh air - and not the only one in the past seven days. European Commission spokesman Jonathan Faull admitted feeling "humbled" after the latest Eurobarometer survey showed there was widespread public ignorance about the EU.

He was quick to add that the knowledge deficit lay more with the member states than the Commission.

Faull is almost certainly right about that. But the EU executive can - and should - do more to address the failings identified by Verhofstadt. Most Commissioners and MEPs will, at least privately, admit that the Belgian has a point.

It's a mistake for Neil Kinnock to blame the media for failing to get a positive message across to the EU's citizens. European Voice got a taste of that last week after our report on the funding of school textbooks in the Palestinian Authority.

Although we made it clear that the Commission was not funding this exercise, it publicly lambasted us for running an "irresponsible" article at a sensitive point for Middle East relations.

It's nearly always a sensitive time when it comes to Middle East politics.

But if serious allegations are made and MEPs are demanding answers, it is the duty of a free press to play its part in finding the truth. And that's what we told Chris Patten (his reply is below).

The media plays a crucial role in ensuring transparency, efficiency and democratic legitimacy. And that's why we'll also be checking that Verhofstadt lives up to his promises.

Subject Categories
Record URL