INTERNATIONAL: Prodi countermands EC PR centralisation

BRUSSELS: A European Commission U-turn over the reorganisation of media services means commissioners will continue to have individual press officers.

BRUSSELS: A European Commission U-turn over the reorganisation of

media services means commissioners will continue to have individual

press officers.



The plan to remove officials dedicated to a specific portfolio and

replace them with a small centralised unit to promote the institution’s

common objectives team (PR Week, 18 June) has been dropped following

protests from members of commission president Romano Prodi’s new

team.



With the restoration of Brussels’ credibility a key task, possible

reforms of the commission’s PR set-up has caused intense debate between

politicians and officials. The new structure represents a compromise.

Commissioners’ individual press officers may be redeployed at busy times

and will report to head of communications Ricardo Levi.



A long-time Prodi ally, Levi will be given overall responsibility for

getting the commission’s message across and avoiding negative

publicity.



Levi is both Prodi’s spokesman and ’adviser’, helping to plan media

campaigns and direct attention on policy and positive action.



Some members of the old spokesperson’s service, including Levi’s

Portuguese deputy Joao Vale de Almeida - a spokesman for Jacques Santer,

the previous commission president - will continue to work in the

service. Commissioners have had little say on appointments.



A commission spokesman said: ’We are still in the process of completing

the structure. Commissioners will have a spokesperson each, although

some are not yet in place.’



In speeches to the European Parliament, Prodi has said he wants more

’openness and transparency’ in the way the commission operates, but has

added that the new PR team will be urged to keep a ’tighter focus’ on

messaging.



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