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