Sixth EU Framework
Programme - Priority 7

Final Conference in Brussels

AIMing at Europe: The EU and the Challenge of Communication

The public relations work of the EU Commission, its communication strategy as well as the reporting of EU correspondents and journalists in the home newsrooms were the objects of investigation of two empirical field studies within the EU funded project AIM (Adequate Information Management in Europe). On the project's final conference March 1 and 2, 2007 in Brussels the results of a three-year long research period were presented.

During the first conference day, the transfer of knowledge and positions between researchers, journalists and EU-representatives took centre stage. One panel discussed the major problems of EU communication and presented first strategies for a better communication between journalists and the EU Commission. Another panel reviewed the situation of the correspondents in Brussels, the press corps' work, its different research methods, and the cooperation with the editorial offices at home.

In the morning of the second day Paolo Mancini (University of Perugia, Italy) and Aukse Balcytiene (Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania) discussed the effects of different journalism cultures in Europe on professional framework and routines in EU reporting. "In some national contexts like in Italy, the relationship between politicians and journalists is based on close partnerships and cooperation rather than rivalry while in the UK as well as Ireland media report critically on politics and play a watchdog role", Paolo Mancini said. In Brussels, AIM researchers had observed a trend of convergence in journalists' practices concerning the press-politics relationship.

Lack of manpower

Later on Peter Golding (Loughborough University, UK) and Risto Kunelius (University of Tampere, Finland) disputed about the existence of (a) European public sphere(s) (EPS).

Although both held different views on the current character of (a) EPS, they agreed that in the future Brussels correspondents should be assigned a much more prominent role in EU news production. Instead of pointing out "what is going on in Brussels", EU stories could be better analysed and integrated into the national political debates.

The conference closed with the presentation of findings about the Brussels press corps and its special characteristics resulting from interviews with EU-correspondents. "Especially regional media suffer from a lack of manpower and knowledge of the EU. Most revert to the services of stringers or news agencies. Of course, these are not able to be responsive to all their clients' individual requirements and they are also unable to regionalize EU policy. Therefore, media need EU experts in their editorial offices at home", Farrel Corcoran (Dublin City University, Ireland) stated.

For further information please contact Julia Lönnendonker, phone: +49(0)-231-755 6975, fax: +49-(0)231-755-6955, email.