INTERNATIONAL: EC's German office pitches an expansion comms brief

BERLIN: The European Commission is to draft in PR agency support as it bids to convince Germans of the benefits of European Union enlargement.

The EC is tendering a contract to handle a 'mobile information service' that will visit areas of the former East Germany where unemployment stands at almost 30 per cent and where citizens are fretting about potential consequences of enlargement.

The European Commission Representation in Germany and the European Parliament Information Office for Germany have jointly put out a PR tender, worth almost £500,000, with a spokesman for the latter saying: 'We want to inform the German public on a broad basis about EU enlargement.'

He added: 'We have sent out the preliminary information for the tender and expect to start the decision process (on which agency to hire) in around two weeks.'

The 'Infobus-Tour' is slated to visit 60 towns, with a focus on 'former production sites' in the former communist part of the country.

Events will be staged in towns near the borders with the Czech Republic and Poland, the two EU applicant countries that border Germany, and set to join the EU in May 2004.

The spokesman cited worries about 'immigrants and cheap labour', and also that unemployment could rise further.

The tour is likely to start 'around September', the spokesman added, saying: 'The main focus is to "go to the people"- we want to hear their concerns directly.'

Unemployment in the former West Germany stands at around nine per cent, more than ten per cent lower than in the eastern portion of the country.

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