Labour and Lib Dem MPs last night backed a proposal to spend 88 million euros of taxpayer’s money on information campaigns, including support for the Lisbon Treaty.
'Communicating Europe in Partnership', includes the proposal to:
“launch a follow-up communication Plan D, as well as a new set of Plan D civil society projects, with the overall objective of supporting the ratification process for the Reform Treaty and the increasing participation in the 2009 European Parliament elections.”
It even suggests the "identification of aspects of school education where joint action at EU level could support Member States".
The Commission earnestly declares that "We need to empower citizens" in order to "promote active European citizenship".
It then goes on to make the astonishing assertion that:
"There is an underlying conviction amongst European citizens that our societies can only tackle today's challenges by working on a European scale. This shift in the purpose and focus of the EU thus fits well with the aspirations of citizens."
This notion is presumably derived from the notoriously skewed Eurobarometer polls - which invariably return exactly the 'right' result for the Commission (for more, see the Economist's excellent critique on Eurobarometer).
No surprise then that the Commission's document notes the imporance of "strategic" use of these surveys:
"The Commission will introduce innovations in the methods used by the Eurobarometer in response to the White Paper consultation to increase its ability to listen and respond to public opinion. The goal is to use surveys more strategically in relevant phases of the policy process"
The Commission apparently thinks it's acceptable to assign legitimacy to awarding itself more power on the basis of its own private polling. But if the transfer of powers to Brussels is rejected in a direct public vote which cannot be managed or controlled (as in Ireland, France or Holland), the result is apparently illegitimate.
Just a thought: instead of spending taxpayers' money trying to construct artificial legitimacy for its actions, perhaps the EU would 'engage with citizens' far better by ceasing to legislate in secret, publishing minutes of meetings, or perhaps paying attention to occassions when people actually get the chance to vote against further transfer of powers to unaccountable, distant institutions?
This won't cost a penny. But something tells us it won't be happening any time soon...