Euro Parliament seeks PR agency for 2004 election

The European Parliament is on the hunt for an agency to handle a newly created £300,000 account to promote the 2004 election among the UK public.

This will be the first time that the Parliament’s UK office has taken on an external PR agency for election work, which is seen as vital to address low turnout and lack of understanding in the UK of the Strasbourg-based institution.

In the last election, held in 1999, turnout was just 24 per cent.

Head of the Parliament’s UK office Dermot Scott said: ‘A turnout of 24 per cent is a failure. It shows widespread ignorance of how laws are made in Europe. For the last ten years most European laws have needed the agreement of the European Parliament.

‘With this information programme we are not asking people to vote for Europe. Indeed, the current range of UK MEPs represented in

the European Parliament includes ardent federalists and those that would argue for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. This is simply to encourage voters to use their chance to influence the law-making process,’ he added.

A call for tenders is expected to be published this week and it is hoped an agency will be in place by November.

Head of public affairs Daniel Ratcliffe said the successful agency would work with the UK office to devise strategy and implementation of the campaign.

He stressed that a key to the campaign’s success would not necessarily be to boost turnout, but instead to change public attitudes surrounding the effect that the Parliament has on the lives of UK residents.

He said this is likely to include highlighting legislation the Parliament has been involved in, including the toughening of laws governing car fuel emissions, and ensuring that certain sporting events such as Wimbledon are broadcast on a terrestrial channel.

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