Communicating the Lisbon Treaty…

… to the citizens seems to be a huge problem.

Seals of signatures of the Treaty of LisbonOne could assume that at least in Ireland, the only country that will hold a referendum on the Treaty, things are slightly different. But apparently this is not true! This article (What exactly are we reforming in this treaty?) shows us all the problems of the Treaty /EU in a nutshell: Lack of a professional communication strategy, arrogance of EU officials, no consolidated version of the rather complicated Treaty and journalists that are not doing their job properly!

– Problem No.1:The European Commission Representation in Dublin clearly fails in explaining the Treaty. Not only were they not able to answer some of the questions, but they also showed a degree of arrogance that makes it hard to become a supporter of the Treaty (and eventually the EU)! It is another proof that the Commission does not have the slightest idea how to communicate professionally. Commission Representations in the member states are seen as ‘official embassies’ of the EU! Therefore, it should be in the interest of the European Commission to make the case for the EU and the Treaty in a convincing way. The upcoming referendum in Ireland should make training of the Commission staff in Dublin a priority! Or to put it more dramatically: Dublin might be the only place in the EU where people actually want to know details about the Lisbon Treaty!

– Problem No.2 is of course the complicated nature of the Lisbon Treaty which also makes it more difficult to explain (but that should not be understood as an excuse!). Of course the reason for this is the failed constitutional treaty and the problematic idea that the new treaty should be similar in content but with a different form. It is believed that only a stripped down treaty that looks very technical and incomprehensible (= “non constitutional”) can win the support of all member states and, at the same time, prevent as many referenda as possible.

– Problem No. 3: The missing consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty. Ralf Grahn put together a list of existing consolidated versions of the Treaty which is probably the most comprehensive list to date. I guess there are three reasons why the EU has not published consolidated versions: firstly, a lot of legal details have to be clarified, secondly, a translation in all languages takes quite a while and, thirdly, I think the EU institutions have an interest to preserve the “technical look” (see above) as long as possible.

– And problem No. 4: Journalists that are unable to find facts. Of course I understand the point Vincente Brown wants to make in his article. But in a way he is doing it in such a typical manner. I agree that the Commission Representation behaved in a very unhelpful way, but why is it not possible for journalists to distinguish between the Commission in Brussels and Dublin? Why did he not phone the various information services of the Commission? What about the journalistic principle to check more sources? Maybe he would have found that website! Somehow I am sure that he just wanted to “test” the knowledge of the Dublin Representation so why does he not say that clearly in the article? I also agree that the treaty is not easy to understand: the language of the treaty is very legal and compared with other treaties also the structure is confusing and complicated. But can we not expect from journalists to read the treaty a bit more carefully? Because he would have found the following article (admittedly very hidden in the treaty!):

Article 2
The Treaty establishing the European Community shall be amended in accordance with the provisions of this Article.
1) The title of the Treaty shall be replaced by “Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union”.

Anyway, if he still has problems with the TFEU he should start reading EU blogs!

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6 responses to “Communicating the Lisbon Treaty…

  1. Think about it:
    The only quality information one can find about the Treaty is on Grahnlaw, a blog!

    This plays into the hands of all those who claim that EU officals try to keep people in the dark about the treaty until it is ratified.

  2. This whole story makes me so exasperated… Anyway, your post started to make me think: I wonder what domain names are out there relating to the Lisbon Treaty. So I forked out 60 Euro and registered:
    <a href=””

    If you or anyone else has any bright ideas of what to do with the domains then please do let me know…

  3. Pingback: Jon Worth » Blog Archive » Will the official with the faintest clue about the EU institutions’ online strategy please stand up?

  4. Thank you, Kosmopolit and rz, for your kind words. But I have to say that I found the press story unfair and tendentious:

    The Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin, Ireland, was quick to offer a consolidated version of the Treaty of LIsbon in English.

    A little while ago the IIEA published an updated consolidated version of both the EU Treaty and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, complete with Annex and Protocols.

    The Institute has announced a consolidation in Irish Gaelic.

    When the reporter refuses to accept the available and free information, the story loses credence and ethics, if it ever was meant to have any.

    If, for unfathomable reasons, even an electronic download over distance from the IIEA would have tainted the writer, there are at least three other consolidated versions of the Lisbon Treaty in English.

    But, of course, the story would have looked different.

  5. Pingback: links for 2008-02-15 | Nosemonkey’s EUtopia

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