PUBLIC SECTOR: FCO bids to alter perceptions of EU candidate states

The Government has launched a PR offensive to raise Britons' interest in - and enthusiasm for - European Union enlargement.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is concerned Britons have an 'outdated' perception of central and eastern European (CEE) states, some of which are likely to join the EU in 2004.

It aims to use a series of events to illustrate what FCO press officer Rashmi Choudhury terms the 'massive' contribution CEE countries have made to popular culture.

Europe minister Peter Hain opened the first of these events last week, a photo exhibition, 'Images of a New Europe' at London's Mall Galleries, which runs until 24 August.

Another event, the 'New Europe Film Season', will show films from CEE from 19-24 September at the Barbican.

And, on 13 October, the FCO is staging a football tournament, 'Europe United', at London Arena in Docklands. The Yes Consultancy was hired two weeks ago to handle PR for the tournament.

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