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EU should be communicated better, say MEPs

Better communication by governments, parties, educational institutions and public service broadcasters is vital to overcome the perception of many citizens that "Europe" is too distant and can do little to solve their real problems, say MEPs in a resolution approved on Tuesday.

Declining voter turnout highlights "the need to continue efforts to overcome the distance between the EU and European citizens", and this should primarily be done through better communication aimed at creating a "European public sphere", say MEPs.

A role for public service broadcasters and transnational media

While "Member States should ensure the independence of public service broadcasters", the latter "have a responsibility to cover the EU" and need to set ambitious targets in this field, stress MEPs.

Finding the recent decrease in the number of accredited journalists in Brussels "extremely worrying", MEPs call for measures "supporting those currently in Brussels".

Meanwhile, the EU "should foster the establishment of trans-national media ..., while tightening up the rules intended to safeguard pluralism and combat concentration of media ownership", say MEPs, who also suggest increasing the number of Euronews broadcast languages to cover all the EU Member States and beyond.

Governments, parties and politicians to play their role

MEPs encourage EU Member States to nominate a specialised European affairs officer responsible for explaining the local, regional and national implications of European policies to citizens.

As political parties play an important role in shaping public opinion on European issues, "they should give European issues a more prominent position in their programmes", stress MEPs. They also underline the importance of involving national MPs in EU policy-making, for example, through web-streaming.

Social media: huge potential, yet with underlying dangers

Although "social media have immense potential for reaching young people", MEPs point out that "their reliability as sources cannot always be sufficiently guaranteed", that they "cannot be considered to be professional media" and may even "give rise to serious breaches of journalistic ethics", and therefore "caution is required when taking up these new tools". MEPs also emphasise "the importance of drawing up a code of ethics applicable to new media".

Need to update school curricula

Parliament advocates "incorporating the EU more fully into all educational curricula", as well as teaching "courses in journalism using new media" in schools.

Improve EU institutional communication

MEPs believe that the EP internet television channel EuroparlTV "should be made more effective", while ensuring its editorial independence, and advocate "making its content as widely available as possible for TV channels and online media who wish to use it". They also call for larger budgets and greater independence for Parliament's information offices in Member States.

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